Helping Learners With Slow Processing Speed

Helping Learners With Slow Processing Speed

Child leaning over looking at a computer representing a student with slow processing speed from Illinois participating in Fit Math instead of tutoring to help them catch up in school.

Are you concerned that your child struggles to learn, or takes much longer than expected to complete basic homework? Have you been told they have slow processing speed or a processing disorder? Are these challenges holding them back at school or contributing to low self-esteem?

Fit Learning may be your answer. Key aspects of Fit’s unique teaching technique make it a particularly good match for children with slow processing speed. Fit, a one-on-one private school in St. Louis, takes a personalized approach to learning. But does it work? Absolutely. In fact, the average Fit learner improves one or two grade levels after 40 hours of instruction.

So, what exactly is slow processing speed?

Simply put, slow processing speed refers to how long it takes a person to take in new information, make sense of it, and respond to it. For learners with cognitive processing disorders such as slow processing speed, it takes more time for information to get into their “working memory,” which is related to their short-term memory. This causes delays and makes it harder to perform cognitive tasks. Therefore, a child with slow processing speed may be more likely to fall behind in school.

It’s important to note that slow processing speed is not correlated with a person’s intelligence. In fact, gifted students oftentimes have processing speed challenges.

Regardless, slow processing speed can have wide-ranging effects. It often impacts a child’s ability to make decisions, learn and remember new material, hold conversations, and follow directions.

In school settings, slow processing speed commonly affects a learner’s performance in core areas such as reading, writing, and math. That, in turn, can lead to stress and anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, and even social difficulties on the part of the learner.

Is there anything that can be done to help with slow processing speed?

Child working on homework representing a learning with slow processing speed from the St. Louis area who's parents have brought her to our Creve Coeur learning lab to catch up on math and continue learning to read.

Occasionally, slow processing speed corrects by itself with maturity, but unfortunately that isn’t usually the case. However, there are measures that can be taken to help improve working memory and make tasks more “automatic” (or routine) for these learners. Some of these include using both verbal and visual channels, repeatedly practicing specific skills, and reducing distractions.

It also helps to increase the level of supervision. This way, the learner’s progress can be closely watched. In addition, allowing periodic breaks and reducing (or eliminating) busywork helps learners feel less stressed and overwhelmed. And, finally, providing lots of support and encouragement is key to help motivate learners, minimize frustration, and make learning an overall positive experience.

How Fit Learning Can Help

A child concentrating on both the computer and writing, representing a child participating in our online tutoring for math, reading, logic & more. Our tutoring strategies are perfect for students with ADHD, slow processing speed, autism, anxiety, and a variety of learning disabilities. We offer in person tutoring at our Creve Coeur learning lab in addition to online tutoring.Fit’s unique precision teaching style uses these practices. This makes it an excellent match for learners with processing speed conditions. Fit uses research-based learning and behavior science technologies to improve learners’ visual and auditory processing speed and working memory. Fit’s method also boosts learners’ executive functioning skills, including planning, time management, and problem-solving. All of these factors are critical in helping learners with slow processing speed. Here are just a few examples of how Fit helps with processing speed problems.

Best practices for learners with slow processing speed

Fit Learning’s method

Use both verbal and visual channels.

Fit takes an interactive, multi-modal approach.

  • Fit’s certified learning coaches give frequent and immediate feedback. This gives learners multiple opportunities to respond and practice. The constant back-and-forth helps students better grasp and remember the material.
  • Within a single session, a Fit learner may practice a given skill several different ways. For example, they may learn through verbal instruction, written responses, and use of an iPad or other technology. Above all, sessions are varied, fast-moving and never boring.

Repeatedly practice specific skills.

Fit trains skills to fluency.

  • First, learners begin by taking a comprehensive assessment to pinpoint knowledge gaps. Then, their learning coach develops a learning plan to target those specific “building-block” skills.
  • Through practice, Fit students come to know the base skills so well that they don’t have to stop and “decode” before problem-solving. This is a game-changer for learners with slow processing speed.

Increase the level of supervision. Monitor learner’s progress.

Fit personalizes and tracks learning.

  • Fit’s program isn’t one-size-fits-all. Rather, it provides just the right blend of structure and flexibility to allow learners to excel, regardless of their processing speed.
  • All sessions are conducted one-on-one. This allows the coach to tailor their teaching for the learner. So, our learning coaches meet students where they are instead of using a canned system.
  • Additionally, coaches are constantly assessing the learner’s progress using data collection and standardized testing. This regular tracking makes learning sessions more efficient and effective.

Minimize busywork (and homework, if possible). Provide periodic breaks.

Fit focuses on learning, not busywork.

  • At Fit, the instruction is deliberate and intentional. There is no busywork – or homework, for that matter!
  • Fit uses explicit and systematic instruction. That is to say, the coach supplies clear learning goals and direct explanations of skills. Skills are covered in a carefully developed sequence, much like a builder would construct a house.
  • Learning sessions are broken up with short breaks to help learners focus and recharge.

Offer lots of support and encouragement. Provide incentives for completed work.

Fit makes learning fun and engaging.

  • Fit’s upbeat and fast-paced system makes learning sessions enjoyable and practically effortless for students.
  • Fit’s expert learning coaches are skilled in behavior science and motivation techniques. They use reinforcement, prizes, rewards, and lots of encouragement. The whole team celebrates learners’ effort, performance gains, and personal bests. This makes learning fun.


Even beyond academics, Fit’s alternative learning method boosts students’ overall self-esteem and confidence. The joy and sense of accomplishment that comes with successful learning paves the way for tackling more complex material. Your student is then set up for success throughout the academic journey.

Tutoring and Academic Services Offered at Fit Learning St. Louis

Fit offers instruction in the areas of reading, expressive writing, math, logic, spelling, and kindergarten readiness. There is also a program designed for homeschoolers. Furthermore, our learning coaches even offer an option for those who prefer to learn online instead of coming into our learning lab in Creve Coeur, MO.

And because of Fit’s customized approach, the method works well for all kinds of learners, including those who:

  • have a diagnosed learning or developmental disability, processing disorder (as discussed here), dyslexia, ADHD/ADD, or autism
  • are average or gifted
  • are struggling in class (a lot of learners at Fit Learning have no identified learning barrier but are performing behind grade level)
  • experience social or generalized anxiety, stress, or a lack of self confidence

Maybe you’re looking to start a Fit program to help a child who has fallen behind to catch up. Or, maybe you’re just taking this step to help your child remain caught up. Either way, Fit’s approach will accelerate and transform your child’s learning … all while having fun.

Better Than Tutoring: Get Effective Help in the St. Louis Area for Learners With Slow Processing Speed

Have you tried tutors before and just felt like your child’s academics barely improved? Is your child trying their best but just not making progress? Fit Learning is different from traditional tutoring programs. For more information on how Fit Learning’s alternative teaching and learning methods can help improve slow processing speed, contact Janice Smith, director of the Fit St. Louis learning lab. We help students from throughout the St. Louis area in our Creve Coeur learning lab. Additionally, our learning coaches can help students from more rural parts of Missouri, Illinois, or other parts of the Midwest with online tutoring.

Additional resources on slow processing speed: