If your child consistently has had trouble with learning and schoolwork, you probably are wondering if you are doing something wrong. You may have asked yourself whether the child needs a different teacher or whether your child might be a “slow learner”.
Perhaps, you have wondered whether you are not teaching him with the right “learning style”. Let me offer some reassurance! After helping hundreds of homeschool families, I can promise you that a parent is almost never the primary cause for a child’s learning struggles! Where do you go to figure it out?
Dealing with Learning Struggles in Your Homeschool
First, check whether you are using effective techniques in your instruction. For example, do you review prior before you introduce new skills? Do you provide specific feedback, clearly stating both what was done well, and what the child should improve? When your child becomes “stuck”, do you stop to analyze the task and check whether he lacks pre-skills he needed to do that new skill? Let us say you are using effective teaching strategies. What else might be causing his problem?
Your child may be “curriculum disabled”! His struggles may be due to poorly designed curriculum or teaching materials! That is because not all books and materials sold to homeschool families are well designed or logically organized. (Some texts do not even present the foundational skills your child needs to move ahead.) Does your child’s textbook present information in a well-sequenced way or does it skip from topic to topic? Does the math or vocabulary book overemphasize drill? Does it provide adequate practice? Remember that even if a particular program worked splendidly for one child, that program may cause problems for another. If so, you can and should choose a different curriculum or program.
After you check both your teaching and the curriculum, let’s look within your child. Many factors can affect educational development: diet, environmental toxins, allergies, emotional and social issues, prematurity, communication deficits, sensory issues, and ADD/ADHD. You can start by checking physical factors: vision and hearing. If you suspect a learning disability, there are helpful websites, such as www.ldonline.org or www.ldaamerica.org that offer checklists of what to look for that can help you narrow down your search.
If you decide your child may have a learning disability, do not wait to see if things improve! A delay in getting a firm diagnosis is simply lost learning time! A clear diagnosis gives the parent the information needed to select the best teaching strategies and the most helpful books that really work. The more you understand the nature of how a particular diagnosis is affecting your child’s ability to learn and show what he has learned, the more you will have realistic expectations. As a result, you and your child will have a more successful homeschool experience.
This post was brought to you by Judith Munday! She is the author of Teaching a Child with Special Needs at Home and at School and the owner of Helpinschool.net.