Slow learners or learning differently

It's all about the different learning style of the students. The idiom slow and steady wins the true.... explore it in this article

I LearN DiffeRently…..But SuREly
When dealing with slow learners, patience and grace are important virtues to remember. Instead of being ashamed, leaders, teachers and parents must help them reach their true potential. If we are to support students and faculty as connected learners and instructors, we must rethink our approach to academic architecture. Not every child learns the same way or at the same pace. Not every child excels in the same areas; some are better readers while others are fascinated with numbers. Does this make one child smarter than another? Definitely not!

Seems like a lifelong tag suggesting that such children are non-achievers. On the other hand, slow learners are being a part of regular schools, thus only proving that they are not physically or mentally disabled but only pace disabled. The only problem with them is that they learn concepts and achieve developmental milestones at a pace slower than their peers.

There are, however, instances in which some children are slower to mature and develop both fine and gross motor skills and comprehension and retention skills. Often times these children are labeled ‘slow learners’. Personally, I despise this term. To label children as anything at all is deplorable, but to label them as ‘slow’ is demeaning and degrading–not to mention telling them they are not as good as others. Their self-esteem and confidence levels suffer tremendously and they withdraw in an effort to shield themselves from the pain–holding it inside themselves.

But nevertheless, there are children who do need extra help and who do need specialized teaching to allow them to learn and grow.
If a child is a ‘slow learner’, then slow things down for them. Give them the grace and time they need and deserve to reach their potential. Provide for them the environment and tools necessary to excel. No child deserves any less of a chance.

Teachers and parents play pivotal roles in a slow learner’s life. Their support and motivation go a long way to help such children overcome their hurdles. This duly signifies that teachers and parents have added responsibility from schools and society toward them. Creating a healthy and conducive environment for a slow learner is of utmost importance to improve their pace. Often teachers who have a slow learner in their class face grave problems: keeping up with the term syllabus, fear of losing empathy toward such students, and many others.

Contrary to common belief, slow learners in the regular classroom are neither rare nor unique. The student commonly called a slow learner is one who cannot learn at an average rate from the instructional resources, texts, workbooks, and learning materials that are designed for the majority of students in the classroom. These students need special instructional pacing, frequent feedback, corrective instruction, and/or modified materials, all administered under conditions sufficiently flexible for learning to occur. Their most obvious characteristic is a limited attention span compared to more able students. To keep these students actively engaged in the learning process requires more than the usual variation in presentation methods (direct, indirect), classroom climate (co-operative, competitive), and instructional materials (films, workbooks, co-operative games, simulations). If this variation is not part of our lesson, these students may well create their own variety in ways that disrupt our teaching. Other immediately noticeable characteristics of slow learners are their deficiencies in basic skills (reading, writing, and mathematics), their difficulty in comprehending abstract ideas, and most disconcerting, their sometimes unsystematic and careless work habits.
While no single technique or set of techniques is sufficient teaching the slow learner, the suggestions that follow are a starting point for developing instructional strategies that specifically address the learning needs of the slow learner. We need to develop lessons that incorporate students’ interests, needs, and experiences.

This helps address the short attention spans of slow learners. Also, these students should be made to feel that some of the instruction has been designed with their specific interests or experiences in mind.

One common characteristic among slow learners is that they often learn better by seeing and hearing than by reading. This should be no surprise, because performance in basic skill areas, including reading usually is below grade level among slow learners. Incorporating films, videotapes, and audio into lessons helps accommodate the instruction to the strategies learning modalities among slow learners. It is found that many writing assignments go un-attempted or are begun only halfheartedly because these learners recognize that their written product will not meet even minimal writing standards. A carefully organized taped response to an assignment might be considered. This has the advantage of avoiding spelling, syntax, and writing errors.
The foremost aspect of teaching a slow learner is that the educator should be patient and consistent throughout the entire process. The core problem of slow learners’ education is their weak cognitive skills coupled with the slow speed learning. We have to be understanding and patient toward their ability to get distracted easily and having a low attention span. Moreover, we must find creative ways to cope with this situation so that the entire class is not affected.


We should invite them to come forward during art classes, school activities, or volunteering. Recognize and reward their participation. This would do wonders to their self-confidence. We should always praise every tiny effort of a slow learner in front of the class or in public. This would raise their self-esteem and confidence. . We should encourage them for constant trying. Encourage them to continue their hard work to complete their tasks even if it means postponing it.
Lastly, a few don’ts:

We should not reprimand in front of the class. We should not emphasize on writing rather concentrate on reading. And it is found that oral education is more beneficial for them. We should not be overprotective. Let their slow learning not become their introduction.

We all need to remember and timely remind ourselves while teaching slow learners that it is okay to let them learn things slowly than not learn at all. As a teacher, we are like the lighthouse for these students –a source of hope and constant encouragement to reach at the shores of learning with their own learning pace. Remember, no student should be left behind.

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