Encouraging positive engagement with reading and writing

​Students who have learning difficulties may be reluctant to engage in literacy activities, such as reading and writing, or have negative views about these activities and themselves.

In addition to the targeted support needed, students with learning difficulties will benefit from additional encouragement and recognition of their progress. When they are interacting with texts, draw on reflective questions.

For example:

  • What do you know now that you didn’t know before?
  • How has reading helped you? What can you do now that you couldn’t before?
  • How do you think you might use what you have learned in the future?

It is also important to help students see that reading and writing can help them feel different emotions like happiness, curiosity, excitement or amusement.

Encourage students to talk about what they imagine when they read, to describe the ‘pictures’ they see in their minds.

Check-in and see how well they remember these pictures by asking about them the following day or week.

These kinds of interactions help students see that they can be successful as readers and that their knowledge and skills change when they read. While reflecting on how reading and writing works for them, they will start to see that they can be successful and why literacy is important.

Teaching students to self-manage their literacy learning

Successful reading comprehension and writing involves using a range of self-regulation strategies. Teaching students to think about their actions while reading and writing (metacognition) is an important part of this.

While scaffolding is vital, students, including those with learning difficulties, will eventually need to be able to self-manage their use of comprehension strategies to understand texts.

Students who can do this independently are more likely to view literacy activities in a positive way, becoming self-teachers and learners of new knowledge and skills. It is possible to teach students of all ages how to manage and direct their learning in literacy.


Self-talk is a useful strategy that students can use when they approach a task, monitor progress and review and consolidate what they have learned.

You can teach students this technique either explicitly or implicitly by asking them to reflect regularly before, during, and after a lesson or activity.

For example, teach students explicitly how to segment unfamiliar one-syllable words into their graphemes and have the students repeat back the steps several times to show that they know what to do and why they are doing what they are doing.

Provide many opportunities for them to practise.

Ask the student to say out loud what they need to do to read new words, then ask them to read the words and summarise the actions they took. Repeating this sequence will also help to automatise that aspect of literacy.

The goal here is to help students become independent learners and to empower them to use their existing knowledge and skills to direct their learning.



Before reading a text, students should:

  • know what the title, author, and blurb is
  • call on any knowledge they may have about the topic (if appropriate)
  • make predictions about the topic and purpose.

Before composing a written piece, students should clarify what its purpose is, what they want readers to know, how they'll communicate this and visualise possible outcomes or endings.

Monitoring progress and adjusting approach

As they read, it is important that students are taught to self-monitor their progress and respond accordingly.

If students feel that they are having trouble understanding a sentence or paragraph, they need to adjust their approach. For example, re-reading a section may be helpful or using prefixes and suffixes to assist their comprehension.

For more information visit Focused teaching Prep to Year 2.