Children learn at a uniquely different pace. A child may understand a concept fast; others may take much longer to assimilate that same concept. Slow learners are commonly referred to children who have below-average intelligence quotient and struggle to hit basic developmental milestones. Slow learners will learn academic materials, texts, learning resources at a much slower rate than their peers.
The belief that slow learners are incompetent and non-achievers is mostly false. They are neither ‘poorly motivated’ nor ‘stupid’. Slow learners put in much effort in their academic performance, though it does not yield exceptional results. If your child is a slow learner, he will need your support. You have the responsibility of creating a positive and conducive environment for him to progress academically.
So, how can you identify a slow learner?
Slow learners find it difficult to process and retain new information. If you notice your child struggles to remember events that occurred a short while ago or whatever he has been taught in school, then it might be a sign that he is a slow learner.
Trouble following instructions
Does your child find it difficult to follow instructions that should be simple for their age? Does an easy task seem tough for your child to complete? It might mean he is a slow learner.
Struggles to read and write
If it seems reading and writing is a painfully difficult struggle for your child, then he might be a slow learner. Difficulty in understanding simple words, poor handwriting, inability to spell simple words, lack of fluency are all signs of a slow learner.
Short attention span
Short attention span is linked to poor academic performance. It causes an inability to focus and concentrate on a given task. Slow learners usually have a short attention span, which fuels restlessness, nervousness, inability to remember, hyperactivity and disorganization.
Inability to differentiate letters from numbers
Some slow learners may have learning disabilities. Slow learners may find it difficult to tell the difference between shapes of numbers and letters, in stark contrast to their peers. They may confuse numbers with letters. This problem will lead to reading difficulty.
Does your child have a below-average reading level? Is he behind his peers in his ability to comprehend whatever he reads? Then your child might be a slow learner. It is also typical for a slow learner to stay away from any tasks that involve reading.
Poor hand-eye coordination
Proper hand-eye coordination is necessary for learning. It referred to the brain’s ability to simultaneously control the eyes and hand to perform a given task. Children with poor hand-eye coordination will find it challenging to perform simple or basic tasks like playing games and reading.
Slow learners may have problems with sequencing. By sequencing, we mean organizing events, images, activities and thoughts logically. It is highly beneficial to learners, and it enables them to process information in an orderly and coherent manner. It is typical for slow learners who have problems with sequencing to count numbers in the wrong order or mispronounce simple words.
How to help a slower learner
Support your child’s interest
A slow learner can still thrive outside academic environments. Identify what your child’s interests are and give him tremendous support. Is your child a good painter? Does he have a beautiful voice? Then celebrate his strengths and encourage those extra-curricular activities.
Get your child enrolled in a special education service
Your child may be eligible for special education services like the Individualized education programs. It is very affordable and cost-efficient. Slow learners and children with learning disabilities have been shown to improve tremendously through the program. Ensure you meet with your child’s teacher for your child to be accessed and participate in the program.
Promote learning habit at home
You can play an active role in your child’s academic progress by entrenching learning with daily activities at home. You can include learning opportunities in his fun time and games, practice pronunciation with your child when you notice a catchy poster on the mall, turn a multiplication table into a song or visit the zoo because your child is learning about wild animals.
Resist the urge to compare your child with his mates. Negative attitudes will discourage you. Never scream or grow frustrated with your child. It will only trigger negative behaviour and more frustrations.