Why Do Some Kids Have Trouble Learning?
- they think differently
- they don't seem to be able to memorize or remember unrelated material or illogical sequencing
- they are 'system thinkers' — they need to see the whole before understanding the parts
Some people would say that they use the right side of their brain more than they do the left side of their brain.
Teaching Struggling Students
1. Memorizing Doesn't Work!
Some students struggle because they aren't able to learn by memorizing. Since the majority of our early learning is taught by requiring a great deal of memory work, these students fall behind their classmates that are able to successfully memorize facts. So the first thing to realize is that we can't teach struggling students by having them memorize math facts and word flash cards.
2. Use a System
When one rule applies to all related facts, it becomes the system.
The good news is that since they are 'system learners', we are able to use this method when there is a system involved.
Math: Multiplication and division math facts can be taught using a system:
- all basic ×2 math facts are a "double" eg., 6 × 2 = (6 + 6) = 12
- ×4 is a "double plus a double" eg., 6 × 4 = (12 +12) = 24
÷8 "cut the number in half three times"
eg., 32 ÷ 8 = (32 ÷ 2 = 16); (16 ÷ 2 = 8); (8 ÷ 2 = 4)
Reading: Teaching students how to read and to increase fluency is done by using decode words lists and highlighters. Students look for the smaller sound units within a word. eg., it, bit, fit, outfit, rabbit.
3. Use a Learning Tool
When there is no obvious system give the struggling student a 'learning tool'.
Math: Addition and subtraction has several 'tools' that can be utilized:
- eg., +2, +3, +4, -2, -3, -4 can be taught by having the struggling students use the points on the numbers to count up or count down to get the answer (sample)
-9, ×9, ÷9 are solved by using a 'magic nine' trick (multiplying sample)
- basic subtracting can be taught using the Math Ladder method (sample)
Writing: Paragraph writing is made easier by giving struggling students a paragraph writing formula. Since social studies and science require a great number of written assignments, giving struggling students a paragraph formula allows them to manage their written assignments with less stress.
Letter reversals: If struggling students can't recognize letter and number symbols or they reverse them, use our ReverseFixUp 'tool' to help deal with this problem.
Word Decoding: To give students the confidence to even attempt reading, start with lists of word families. Have the student highlight the word-family letters and then read the whole word.
As they progress to larger words using this technique, they will read more confidently and increase their fluency using Word Decoding 'tool' to deal with this problem.
4. What to Do When Memorizing is Needed
Struggling students will still have to memorize a few of their math facts, plus lots of social studies and science facts. The best way to handle this is by creating study flash cards.
- lay a group of flash cards down
- turn the flash card over to check the answer
- if correct leave the flashcard with answer showing
- if incorrect, flip the flashcard back over
- now reverse the process and use the answer to determine what is the on the front of the flash card
- eventually just study the flash cards that require more work
5. Look for the Reason
You have a one of a kind child — we have a one of a kind solution.
Reading Skills Section for more information and teaching techniques.
Thinking Skills Section for more information and teaching techniques.
Looking for a specific worksheet — go to the Website Index for a direct link.
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You can't always avoid the struggle but you can be ready for it.
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