It is possible to experience joy when teaching a slow learner. Let me encourage you and share my experience of how I discovered joy instead of anxiety.
If my youngest child had been in regular school, she would certainly have discovered that she took a lot longer than her peers to learn. In those fragile years, I’m sure she would have been labeled a “slow learner”. But instead, in the privacy and comfort of our home, she flourished at her own pace.
It came as a shock to discover that my very young child couldn’t remember nursery rhymes. Despite daily repetition, the words floated past her memory and she could only tell me the theme of the rhyme, but not the words themselves. “Auditory memory issues?” my remedial-teacher brain whispered. Then, I discovered quite by chance, that if she acted out the nursery rhyme she remembered it well. “Okay … she’s a kinesthetic learner.”
Learning the alphabet took much longer than with my other kids at her age. Maths skip counting missed beats, and learning to read seemed to take forever. She desperately wanted to read. It was this inner drive that kept her working and working on her skills. I must add that this is what is quickly lost in school systems! Kids feel shame and fear and lose their love to learn. They dread being exposed and hide or avoid reading in any form.
But safe at home, daily she would come to me with her little readers to read to/ with me. I learnt to slow things down to the place where she flourished … partnered reading; me whispering the words in her ear as she pointed and sounded out the words. This went on for ages. I just kept sitting with her on my lap reading with her for months and months and months.
And then, one day, she simply took off! And my emerging reader became an independent reader! We were both overjoyed!
My youngest daughter is now 14 years old and is an avid reader of adult classical books. She has her own collection of classic books, preferably hard covers, that she scouts for at secondhand book stores, and she reads and re-reads these every moment she can.
If my hubby hadn’t kept me in check, I probably would have taken my child to a therapist to evaluate her and start some remedial program, but, instead, in faith, we simply followed her pace and allowed her to learn as she was ready.
“I think it is infinitely more important that our children feel confident in their ability to learn something, than in how long it may or may not take to actually learn it. Speed has never been the goal. Mastery, progress, confidence – these are all things that take time, and that are worth the wait.”
May I urgently suggest that you homeschool your struggling slow learner. Bring them home and save them the misery and shame of failure and labelling. Do it now! Don’t wait for the end of year or a term. Homeschooling allows you to tailor-make their education experience. Aim to relax. Follow a gentle pace. Don’t fret about “trying to catch up”. I want to state this with absolute confidence — your child will learn when they are ready.
Secondly, if you feel the need to have your child evaluated, pray for and look for a remedial therapist with compassion, humour and patience. Ask other parents how they and their children feel about the therapist before taking your child to their first session. And in my experience, this is not a permanent situation. Remedial therapy is a temporary help to overcome weaknesses. As your child improves, she will not require therapy. Don’t fall into the trap of doing hours of boring, dull, repetitive remedial exercises. Don’t allow your child to feel like she has “a problem”. Worse still, don’t allow them to feel that they are a burden.
Most importantly — pray. The Lord showed me how precious and special my child was just as she is and not as I felt she should be. I learnt to trust Him and follow His lead. His joy and boundless love for her enabled me to love and nurture my child.
Mom, do not fret about your slow learner. Do not weep. This is your special gift … to learn to love uniquely. To love without fixing. To love without wanting to change someone. To love patiently, with hope. Such love never fails.
Praying for you … for much grace, courage and strength! Blesssings, Nadene