The term ‘slow learner’ is not synonymous to incompetence or laziness. It is a big misconception. A lot of parents find it difficult to accept that their child has a form of learning disability, or is a slow learner. Children who struggle to learn are not ‘dumb’ or ‘losers’. They need encouragement and extra-care in order to reach intellectually. These children succeed academically as well.
There are steps parents or teachers can take to encourage slow learners to succeed. This article will analyze every one of them.
Who is a slow learner?
Children who learn at a much slower pace behind their peers in age and grade level are often referred to as slow learners. Slow learners are not ‘failures’ or ‘unintelligent’. They reach their developmental milestones, as regards learning, at a slow rate.
Children are unique and grow and comprehend things at their own pace. While a few kids tend to assimilate and understand concepts faster, some kids would need time to grasp them. It has been noted that about 13% of the entire population are ‘slow learners’. Slow learners are not categorized as being learning disabled. Outside the learning environment, they may lead normal lives. Most’ slow learners’ grow to become independent, self-reliant and focused adults.
Why can’t my child retain information?
Your child may struggle to retain information because he is a slow learner. There are four developmental milestones that slow learners may attain developmental, educational, social and personal milestones at a much slower rate.
Some characteristics or sign of slow learners are:
- Inability to grasp or retain information due to poor memory or inadequate concentration or lack of focus.
- A low cognitive capacity that makes them unable to deal with learning scenarios, and think in abstract terms. Though slow learners can succeed in rote-memorization and concrete teaching, they usually will need more drilling and revising than other kids.
- Poor usage of drawing and writing tools due to weak eye to hand coordination.
- Short attention span.
- The portrayal of poor judgment or behaviours that show lack of maturity.
- Preference for the company of younger children.
What do you do if your child is a slow learner?
If your child is a slow learner, that does not make him ‘less’ than other children. Slow learning is not a disease or illness. It does not mean your child can’t attain educational goals; it just means that he/she needs more support, great patience and more time to reach his potentials. As a parent, it is advised that you equip him with the right learning environment and tool to succeed.
Here are numerous ways to help a slow learning child:
- Your child can still do tremendously well in a non-academic environment, and with your encouragement, that will become a reality. Slow-learning is not an avenue to give up on your child’s skills and abilities. Encourage your child to have other extra-curricular interests like painting, singing, athletics etc.
- Adopt an individualized education plan to aid your child’s academic needs. You will need the support of your child’s teacher to create this unique plan.
- Create a culture of learning for your family. Make supporting your child’s academic progress a regular activity. You can establish a relationship between what your child learns at school with his normal activities. For instance, if your child is learning about dinosaurs, then he can watch Jurassic Park in his spare time.
- Support your child by helping with class assignments and providing aid during study hours. You can also tutor your child from time to time, advise and assist them during challenging school tasks. This does not mean doing your child’s assignments.
- If you are hiring a tutor, then he/she should be an encouraging, emphatic, positive and patient person.
- Ensure you inspire and motivate your child, praise your child whenever he grasps a concept.
- Never compare or ‘label’ your child negatively. It will make matters worse and demotivate your child.
- Do not overwork your child in a bid to make them understand fast or complete their school work swiftly. Give them a break in between and exercise patience.