How To Help a Teenager: 13-18 years

By High School children are no longer learning to read and have transitioned to reading to learn. Accommodations and assistive technology will be vital. Emotional support may be required.

Teenagers can improve limited literacy skills if they have the personal motivation and time to dedicate to it. However, the demands of schoolwork, preparing to pass exams, sports and other extra curricular activities typically take priority, leaving little time for intensive tutoring.

Just keeping up with the pace of general classwork is likely to be a struggle, so support should focus upon providing accommodations and assistive technology with study skills.

Give Emotional Support

  • Self-esteem is frequently damaged. Emotional support and encouragement combined with assistive technology tools and accommodations can help teenagers get through school.​​​​​​​

Encourage Self-Advocacy

  • Teenagers have to understand what kind of things are helpful to them, recognize their own strengths and weaknesses then become a self-advocate.
  • Encourage them to speak to their teachers so they can explain the accommodations and assistive technology that they need.

Provide Assistive Technology

  • To keep up with written notes, Smart Pens can be used to record spoken lessons, transcribe the audio into digital text, organise and search for key words.
  • Other speech-to-text tools.
  • Screen readers.


Accommodations are ways to support a child through school, bridge the gap between their skills and the educational demands being placed on them. They help a teenager access the curriculum despite them having limited reading and spelling ability. The need for accommodations increases with age as there are greater demands on a person's reading and writing. Suitable accommodations will vary according to the needs of the individual.


  • Provide a screen reader or someone to read for the student. 
  • Provide text books in an audio format.
  • Do not require a student to read aloud in front of others.
  • Provide more more time to complete reading assignments and reduce amount of work given.


  • Provide a note taker.
  • Expect less written work - at least reduced by half.
  • Provide a planning framework or organizational helper such as mind mapping.
  • Teach key words.
  • Allow students to use assistive technology such as spelling and grammar checkers. 
  • Do not penalize the student for lack of punctuation and misspelled words.


  • Give extra time on tests or examinations.
  • Allow the student to use their smartphone or tablet to take photographs of notes.