When we realise that we have a child with learning difficulties (be that a diagnosed issue or a struggle to understand things that their peers seem to get) we have to put ourselves on a steep learning curve so that we can find helpful ways to encourage our children instead of reacting to them being ‘behind’.
6 Ways to Help our Struggling Student when they fall behind
1–Accept the difficulties. If I’m stressed about them, then I’m going to pass that on. He needs to know that yes, he is behind other kids but mum is okay with that.
2–Know what issues/skills you want to focus on – don’t choose too many at one time. And little by little address them.
3–Know as much as you can about any label that might fit your child. I don’t think you need to label your child, I’m not saying that, but the research is out there, strategies are out there for these kids who learn things at a different pace, and we can learn from that without necessarily going through all the medical assessment stuff.
4–Address it with Character. This has been a big one for the growth in our son. Perseverance, Diligence, Flexibility, Creativity, Hospitality.
5–Find different things to teach and find different ways to teach. Daniel couldn’t say or audibly recognise the difference between 13 and 30 (and all the other teen/ty numbers). And in a sense we were stuck not able to go on with the number strand of math. Instead of stressing about it we moved on to measurement, data, chance, and space type topics. He is still learning math, just not numbers. It goes against the grain but we have to find ways to focus on what they can learn. One day things just clicked and he said – “You mean there is a difference between 13 and 30?” He was incredulous!! But things fell into place for him from then on and he has been able to move onto the number based math.
6–Be always available. My other children have moved onto independent study and yet Daniel still needs me. We do our children a disservice by pushing them to independent studies too quickly. The whole idea of discipleship/mentoring/one-on-one opportunities that homeschooling gives us is that we can shape and model our days around what our children need.
Sometimes it hurts our heart
This all needs to be said with the ‘disclaimer’ that I personally don’t care, philosophically, about levels and about being the same as peers. I work towards an individualised education for the whole child. But there are moment when my heart hurts because my child is different than other children, there are times that my child’s heart hurts because he or she does not know what other children know.
These thoughts are to help me, and other parents who have these feelings, to find a way to go forward at whatever pace is appropriate for that child. These tips are not to be taken as the way to get our children up to speed but rather accept them for where they are at and encourage them to keep growing.