Are you helping a struggling learner? Of course there are a vast number of reasons why a child struggles with learning and often, behind a struggling learner there is a struggling mother.
My second son, at an early age, struggled with things like blowing bubbles and riding a bike, in addition to his school lessons. I spent months researching ideas to help him learn. This school year I have struggled to help my youngest son understand math. We have spent 2 years trying to master the addition facts. At first I tried some of the tricks that worked for my other son but the gap continued to grow.
So what do you do when “mom is struggling to teach” and “the child is struggling to learn?” When I am struggling to teach, my brain just shuts down and can not focus on new ideas. I feel so defeated. For the past 2 months I found myself working through these tips to help me and my son.
5 Tips for Helping a Struggling Learner
• Take a step back from the area of struggle. For us, I stopped math lessons and only focused on a few math games that he could easily do. This gave both of us a break from feeling frustrated.
• Make a list of strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes I get too focused on the weakness that I forget about the strengths. Since my son loves history, I gave him a Fandex of the Civil War. We both enjoyed learning new facts.
• Find some help. It could be your spouse, a friend or an expert in the field. I am always amazed how asking another person brings fresh ideas to the problem.
• After making a list of new ideas commit 15 minutes a day to just one new idea to teach, even repeating the same idea for a few days. I know in the excitement of finally having some new ideas I am guilty of wanting to do all of them as fast as possible.
• Star this idea *Remember to Encourage the Effort* Even if we spend another year on addition facts, my son’s character will be strengthen by learning perseverance.
During this current struggle I had the opportunity to talk with Kathy Kuhl at Learn Differently. She sent an email that had me outline my concerns with my son. This outline really helped to guide our phone conversation. During the phone call I took 2 pages of notes that contained web sites, ideas, and different thoughts to help my son with math. I even had a few questions on his spacing with handwriting. Afterwards I discussed again with a close friend the new ideas. Now that I am feeling like I can teach math again, I must remind myself to go slow and encourage the effort.
One of my light bulb moments from the meeting came with handwriting spacing and skinny sticks. I only knew to have my son put his pointer finger in between words, but that made it difficult for him to write. But buying a pack of these skinny sticks and then putting a Lego cop at the top, has made a big improvement with his writing. It seems like such a simple idea, but I had to get my mind past the defeated feeling and focus on asking for help.
I know not all ideas will be so easy, but I rejoice loudly when they do!
If you are struggling with helping a struggling learner, leave a comment so I can pray for you. Who knows maybe we can come up with some new ideas to help each other.
Bright Ideas Press is giving away a free consult with Kathy Kuhl! If you are looking for help, go enter.