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Expert Q&A

What online resources are available for a student in a rural area without access to special education services?

My six-year-old son is obsessed with super heroes. He often talks about his favorites (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, etc.) and is very fond of watching their movies and cartoons. He has an amazing memory about things he is interested in and can remember everything about superhero movies and cartoons he likes but still does not recognize his numbers and letters. I’m very worried about his studies and his reading. How can I help him improve his reading skills? We don’t have access to special education near our home as we live in a remote town in Pakistan.

Finding help for your child can be difficult if you live in remote or rural areas without access to specialists. However, there is a wealth of resources available online through free websites. With the growing number of educational websites, students who live in such areas can now access a wide variety of tools, specialized information, and helpful hints for working with their struggling child. One great example of a website to explore is ReadWriteThink(opens in a new window), a website that provides “resources in reading and language arts instruction through free, Internet-based content.” Here you can find information on the best ways to teach reading and writing, as well as helpful tools and resources.

One of these online tools, a comic strip creator(opens in a new window), may appeal to your child as a fan of comic books and superheroes. Using tools like this, your child can create stories of their own, perhaps with some help from you for some of the writing. It is possible that the high interest of creating his own comic strip may encourage him to try writing more. Such activities take advantage of your child’s interests and help him engage in telling and writing stories; studies have shown that storytelling is the first step in learning to read and write, so encouraging your child to use technology tools and artwork to tell stories may help their build up his reading and writing skills.

Below is a list of other great websites for students with disabilities:

You may also want to explore the many free, online course providers now available to students of all ages and needs. For example, Khan Academy(opens in a new window) offers all online courses and instruction in traditional subject areas such as math, science, and English Language Arts, as well as other subject such as computer programming and art history. It is especially good for students with disabilities since the lessons are self-paced, allowing the student to take as much as time as they need to grasp the concept. If you child is more engaged with iPhone and handheld games, check out the many educational apps now available in the iTunes and Android store. To get started, explore the suggested resources on Children with Special Needs and their related resources.

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