Working with slow learners

Working with slow learners

INERTIA A slow learner initially wants to learn, but has a problem with the process, explains Surabhi Verma

A very big problem that every school faces, i.e. the difficulty to deal with the slow learners. The teachers have their big headache over these children. Handle them in homework & class work, understanding the topic, etc are the areas concerned with the slow learners. Most Slow learners have difficulty in maintaining social interaction and social skills because of their lower IQ levels due to which they are not able to understand the rules of social engagement.

This immaturity may be due not only to lesser mental ability but also to a lack of experience, poor health or poor speech habits that further retard his growth. They like talking to people but are not able to take the initiative as they are shy due to low self esteem.

They sometime appear immature in interpersonal relationships. They might find maintaining friendships very difficult and do not understand simple skills like turn taking. Furthermore there might be very few children who are willing to play with them and are patient enough to explain the rules and help them when they get stuck.  

A slow learner can be described as a student who has the ability to learn necessary academic skills, but at a rate and depth below average of their age peers. In order to grasp new concepts, a slow learner needs more time, more repetition, more patience and often more resources from teachers to be successful. Reasoning skills are typically delayed, which makes new concepts difficult to learn.

It should be noted that slow learners do not fall into the category of special education because often times, they have no evidence of having a medical problem. They simply do not do well in school or a particular project. Also, slow learners differ from reluctant learners.  

A slow learner initially wants to learn, but has a problem with the process.  A reluctant learner is not motivated and can also be passive aggressive, creating more problems for teachers and parents through non-cooperation.  Reluctant learners seldom have learning disabilities. Most slow learners have difficulty planning long term goals and thus completing task in the given time is a major issue.

 This happens because the children get easily distracted and do not have internal strategies which can equip them in doing the task at hand. Due to this they sometimes work very slowly and have difficulty taking multiple instructions. Reasoning skills are typically delayed, which makes new concepts difficult to understand and require lot of support.

Creating awareness among teachers as well as parents towards this problem will be a major step in the intervention program designed to deal with the problem. It can be done through mass media, following related literature, conducting seminars, lectures, parent-teacher meetings and group discussion. 

At home, the parents should help the child make a schedule of the tasks and help the child complete the tasks to make him/ her feel empowered. The parents should also identify the child’s strength and interest areas and encourage them to take up the hobbies, as achievements in these will also ensure in improving the child’s self esteem. 

Encourage activities other than school work to help your child cope with the stress of study. Find hobbies that interest him and encourage him to participate. Realize that it is more likely that your child will start losing confidence in his abilities as a result of his difficulty in performing at school; excelling at an activity will make him feel good about himself. Thus if the child is good in painting or dance, the parents and the teachers should encourage the child to participate in these activities. 

Open communication with the child is essential to create a rapport with the child so that the child is also open to accepting the help from the teachers, parents and therapists.

(The writer works with children with special needs)

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