How To Reach The Child Who Struggles From The Start
Most educators will agree that students all learn differently. There are no two students who learn in precisely the same manner. Part of being a good teacher is understanding this and being able to structure your lesson plans so that all the students can take away from it.
The challenge is when you have a student who seems to be struggling right from the start. It then becomes crucial not only to recognize the struggle, but to figure out why the student is struggling and how you can best help him or her.
How can you recognize a struggling student?
You may not always be alerted to a student who needs extra help. So it becomes important to recognize the signs of a struggling student.
As you begin the year with your class, you may notice a student who is having trouble immediately. This student may not be able to keep up with peers and may not be able to comprehend the lessons. There can be many reasons for this. A child may have an underlying learning disability that hasn’t been diagnosed yet. Dyslexia, dysgraphia, and auditory processing disorders are good starting points. You will need to work with the child study team to discover the root cause of the struggle.
Once you have determined why the student is struggling, you can work with the team to set up a learning plan for the student.
What you can do in the classroom
Once you have the needed information, there are things you can do in the classroom to help the student.
You might take a small step approach to teaching. In this way, you will only teach little bits of information at a time. This allows the struggling student a chance to fully absorb what you are teaching and have the opportunity to fully digest it before moving on and building on the concepts being taught.
Providing a chance for hands-on, multisensory learning is also immensely beneficial to this type of learner. Since no two students learn alike, it is ideal to have many ways of learning the same lesson. Using tools like handheld chalkboards with chalk or a sponge and water, foam letters, letter tiles, counting cubes, etc., can be extremely beneficial to all students. Try to engage as many of the 5 senses as possible.
Timing is key
Where possible, try to time your lessons in a beneficial way. Is your struggler more alert in the morning? Then introduce new concepts first thing. Is the student more settled after burning off energy after recess? Maybe that is the ideal time to start a new lesson. It is also helpful to keep the length of the lesson short and sweet. In this way, the student is not overwhelmed.
It takes a village
Communication with parents and caregivers at home is vital. Be sure to have an open line so that you can work together. This helps reduce anxiety and stumbling blocks for the student and in fact, will help set the student up for personal success.