Who is a slow learning child?
A slow learning child is a child that hits their developmental markers at a much slower rate than compared to peers. It is commonly misunderstood that these children fail at learning or are merely ‘dumb’.
The truth is that every child has their own pace to learn and develop. Some children naturally learn much faster, and others are known to take their time to learn the same concepts and lessons.
What are the characteristics of a slow learning child?
A slow learning child is one that struggles to hit basic developmental milestones that can broadly be categorized into four groups – developmental, social, personal or educational. Here are a few
symptoms of a slow learning child:
• Developmental: The characteristics of a child with developmental learning disorders include poor memory and a delay in speech and language developmental patterns. This means your child could take longer to start speaking than others or may need more prolonged and repetitive lessons
to learn most concepts.
• Social: A child who has social learning disabilities is usually known to relate to children younger to him more often and avoid interacting with peers. Such children are also prone to behaviour that is associated with children younger than their age. These children are often just labelled as introverts due to the inability to connect with their peers leading them to be quieter or more reserved.
• Personal: Children with personal learning problems seem to have less control over their emotions. They tend to fall back to anger quickly, get frustrated faster than most, express emotions like anxiety for seemingly minor issues or get depressed over setbacks. These children are most likely
to have significant problems with self-esteem, confidence and are prone to acts of aggression or emotional instability.
• Educational: Children with learning or educational disabilities take longer to process and understand the information provided to them. These children may be proficient in intellectual knowledge, but it takes them longer to understand & grasp the concepts.
What causes slow learning in kids?
Most parents may wonder why some children are slow learners. The truth is that there is no clear answer. Yet, there are a few underlying reasons that can be the main causes but these causes
may not be specific to your child.
• Trauma – Your child could have gone through a trauma tic experience in the past which is causing a delay in his development. It is now widely accepted that trauma of any nature – be it physical, psychological or emotional – can have the same impact on children.
• Premature Birth – One of the reasons for problems while learning is the premature birth. This can also be the reason behind your child having a slower rate of brain development.
• Medical – Another common cause for learning issues could be medical – diseases of the brain or nervous system can cause problems for children to hit learning milestones. These are often treatable, but when not treatable, they are manageable.
• Pampering – The most common cause for learning delays is the over-pampering nature of parents. At times, the learning process requires action and failure. A lot of children who are
pampered are known to have the problems solved for them, which is why they never learn or adapt.
Challenges of a slow learning child
A child who is diagnosed as a slow learner can face many challenges in their lifetime. They may struggle to keep up with peers, find it difficult to stay motivated while learning, go through many bouts of depression or anxiety or struggle to communicate and build connections with people. To understand the possible challenges that your child may face as a slow learner, talk to a child learning and developmental specialist.
How to Help and Handle A Slow Learner?
There are numerous ways to help a child who is a slow learner. Here are a few methods that are known to help slow learners:
• Praise – Motivation is one of the most essential requirements for children who are slow learners. To help them continue learning and to keep them motivated, it is important to praise them when they get a concept or technique correctly. Even the smallest victory should be acknowleged and praised.
• Rewards – As with any child, a slow learning child will be motivated to stay the course and learn as much as possible if there is a reward at the end of it. Try setting rewards for milestones to keep your child motivated and to help them focus on the task at hand.
• Smaller Targets – When working with a child who is a slow learner, it is important to set small targets that are achievable and within reach. As a parent, it is your responsibilty to understand what is achievable for your child.
• Failure Isn’t Bad – Make sure you reinforce the notion that failure isn’t a bad thing. Be realistic with teachers and other caregivers as well as with yourself that your child will fail more often than other children. When they do, do not berate. Instead, encourage to try again.
• Be Open with Caregivers – Be it a teacher, your partner, parents, the babysitter or any other caregiver, be open about your child’s struggle. Let them know the situation and educate them about how to handle the situation with your child as a slow learner.
• Be Patient – Do not compare your child to other children. This will only de-motivate you as well as your child. Stay patient when working with them and be sure that they will hit the milestones in front of them, even if it is at a much slower rate. Make sure you do not lose your patience and scream at them, as this will only demotivate them.
• Keep Space for Aids – Whether it be post-it notes, reminders on calendars or calculators, keep room for visual and auditory aids when working with your child. These aids can be beneficial at a sub-conscious level. Find aids that can be used passively so your child continues to learn.
• Be Supportive – Being vocally supportive is essential when dealing with slow learners. Encourage your child to keep at it until he succeeds. Just knowing you believe in your child will keep them motivated to keep learning and trying.