So, when it comes to reading and writing for me, I struggle. I am more of a math and science kind of person where there is a clear answer for what you are trying to accomplish and its usually either yes or no. As a child I read a lot of books with my mother but she could never get me to read books for fun and I believe that has hindered me to some extent in both my reading and writing areas of life.
When I was in elementary school most of my writing was an open time for you to write what you wanted and how you wanted; as I remember, there was not much formal instruction. In my middle school reading and writing classes I just remember a lot of reading of novels. In middle school I was very very above average for math and science test scores but barely average for reading and writing. At this time my teachers wanted to send me to a tutor during the school day to help me with this and I refused. I believe in middle school everyone is just trying to fit in, and that was the last thing I wanted...not to fit in. High school was where it hit me that oh know, I am stuck! We were given tons of readings a night for every class and I quickly realized that I was not able to read as quickly as I should have. During high school whenever a large, intense paper was assigned I knew exactly was I was going to have to do. I gathered all of my materials (books, papers, research etc) and my mom and I would sit down and try to organize things by topic and see how much we had in order to start outlining. My mom was definitely my rock through high school to help me calm down, breathe, and tackle a paper.
But then, I went to college, haha. And my first paper was for a history class and I actually had my mom come down to Bloomington so she could walk me through it and give me tips on how to write a paper.
So now I know when I am given either a writing or a reading assignment that I need to start it well before others probably would. I know that while reading I must highlight and possibly take notes if the text is difficult. Much like Trisha said, I try to relate it to something in my own life or an experience I have seen in a classroom to help me understand it more.
When I am writing, I know I have to outline the paper first and organize by topics. For example, this summer I was in a writing class and I did an analysis on the characters. I read the story once just to read it through and the second time I went through and read it and took notes for each character. It may be a long and tedious task but I have learned that organization is the key to my paper writing.