Not all children are blessed with the gift of fast thinking and learning. Some take more time to process and learn the information. It used to be, and sometimes still is, that these children were thought of as special needs or learning disabled. But, really there is nothing wrong with them. They are simply different from the status quo that the public school system has set up as normal. Most of these children are very brilliant, but just need more time to thoroughly understand what they are being taught.
It is important to be extremely patient with these types of children. They need time and room to learn on their own. Usually a slow learning characteristic can be picked up early, such as in kindergarten or first grade. It can be very frustrating to work with these kinds of kids, especially if you have already taught a very fast learner. But, there is no need to panic or be upset about this until late elementary school, such as fifth grade.
These children will usually have a very difficult time learning to read. They do not understand why the word “bare” means something different and is spelled differently than “bear”. It is very important to spend just enough time doing reading and writing exercises with this child every day – perhaps even on the weekends. Make sure it is a fun activity for them. Kids who are easily frustrated are more likely to give up if they feel learning to read is a chore. This includes reading, writing, and spelling. Issues can last up to and past fifth grade, but are more easily remedied if the child learns to enjoy learning.
Some of these slower learners may have a more difficult time understanding subtraction and beyond. Addition is not usually a huge problem for these children, but slow learners have issues, after learning to count forwards, changing their thinking to learn to count backwards. From here on out there can be issues with multiplication, division, fractions, etc. You may have to try several different explanations of each process and repeat the lesson several times before they thoroughly understand it.
For some slower learners laziness is a tool. They tire of working so hard to understand one concept and may even lie about not knowing what to do just so they do not have to do the work. It is the job of the parent to teach the child, but also to lovingly discipline the child – not spanking or slaps on the hand or even time outs. The best discipline a lazy child can get regarding education is to have to sit down until they at least try. When parents allow their kids to not try they are saying it is ok for them to be lazy and let someone else do their work. This is NOT ok! As children get older, life and school get more difficult. Children have to learn from day one that life, and everything included in it (i.e. school), takes hard work. But, they also need to know that there are huge rewards for those who work hard.
Because slow learners have to work harder than other children at understanding concepts and ideas, they really should be rewarded for working hard. Trips to their favorite park, the zoo, or a small road trip can be a wonderful reward for a completed lesson or year. Money jars filled with coins for each good day of school done (i.e. for trying instead of giving up). Rewards spurn people on, and children are no different. Here are two websites to help parents teach slow learners at home: