Children are like a white sheet. As they grow, the sheet becomes colorful with learning. Every child is born with the same intellectual level which develops with time. And every child has its own pace. There is nothing like a fast or a slow learner. It’s our perception that categorizes kids on the basis of their learning pace. Once this is understood that there is no such gap the matter would be automatically solved. So it’s all about perception and judgment. There is nothing like being a slow learner, the term itself denies the chances of development in a child.
When we differentiate kids on the basis of their learning ability we are actually devoiding them the opportunity to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Always remember, a child is the best judge of itself. Like an infant is unable to speak yet he /she conveys to the mother that they need milk and they even decide the quantity according to their hunger. You simply can’t force feed. And if you do, you know the outcome. Similarly, when a child is learning he/she is exploring and discovering new aspects. Every child is receptive. But that doesn’t mean that the child who is learning fast is more intelligent, maybe the other one whom we address as a slow learner is interested to gather more knowledge, or maybe that topic isn’t of his/her interest. Rather than asking a child to improve his pace of learning we should concentrate on the reason of slow learning and try to find out his/her areas of interest and development.
Actually, the problem is first we ourselves categorize kids through grades, marks, percentages ranks etc, dividing them and creating a rift and then we try and find solutions to bridge the gap. A child just learns. It’s we who tell them whether they are fast or slow learners. Gaining knowledge isn’t a race where a child needs to reach first. It’s a procedure where the ultimate goal is to attain knowledge in a rightful way. You cannot make a cheetah, a rabbit, a frog, a fish, a dog, and a snail participate in the same race. Because they are not meant to compete with each other. Two different kids will learn two different things in two different ways on two different paces.
Children are like wet mud, they need proper molding to shape them perfectly. It requires patience, commitment and most importantly time. Kids who take their own pace to learn, deserve patience. More than graphs they need encouragement and appreciation. Motivate them not to give up and let them try. Keep their assignments short as they don’t lose interest in it. Don’t keep long unattainable goals for them. Be available for them whenever they need you. Your accessibility is extremely important. Never despise or demean them. Don’t reprimand them in public, point out to their mistakes in private otherwise it would lower their confidence and shatter the hopes of any improvement. Creating emotional security for kids is extremely important. Repetition and revision work for them. Use creativity to teach them. Learning through audio-visual can also be of great help. Try to eliminate distractions so that they can focus on what is being taught.
Teachers need to alter their teaching methodology for such kids. They need to develop a bond with such students so that they develop trust and confide in them. There is always a reason for underperformance and it needs to be figured out. A child should be comfortable enough to express his/her comfort or discomfort while learning. All children have limited attention span so make sure you try to keep their attention intact but don’t force them to concentrate too much. They should be seated in the front row in the class to keep them alert and engaged. Give them extra attention, don’t neglect or avoid their queries. Keep instructions simple and understandable for them. Remember a slow learner is different from a reluctant learner. So even if they are listening to you, it’s working.
Creating a healthy and conducive environment for a child to improve his pace is of utmost importance. Encourage brighter kids to be co-operative and supportive to help slow learners to buck up. Pair them up with brilliant students. Peer support plays a very important role. Appreciating them on their smallest of achievements is helping them taking another step towards improvement. Kids labeled as slow learners are very sensitive and self- conscious as they are prompted every time about their weakness in comparison with quick learners. So it’s important to build their confidence and make them believe in themselves through positivity and support. Every child is unique and excels in life accordingly. We must not forget the famous proverb: slow and steady wins the race.
Yashodhra Patil is Founder, Kidzopedia.
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