Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Struggling Student

Learning has not came easily to Faith Aubrey.

In fact, if you wanted to be honest, you could say that life has not came easily to her.

As a parent, you know better than to compare your children. You will knock anyone over the head if they dare compare, but sometimes you find yourself doing it anyway.

At least I do.

Here's the thing. Every. Single. Child (and adult). Is. Created. In. God's. Image.

Every single child is created in God's image.

Every single child is created in God's image.

The reason why it bothers most people when someone struggles is the fact that they aren't normal by other people's standards.

I know it's taken a little bit of time for me to relax enough even though my daughter would be failing and behind if she was in public school.

Who says you have to be able to read at age 5? And do multiplication in 2nd grade?

Once I took it to the Lord and came to terms with the fact that my goal isn't to have her reading or doing multiplication by a certain age, but instead to produce a capable, well adjusted, child of God adult things changed.

Yes. Right now, she's almost 8 and struggles in every aspect of school and still has training wheels on her bike. Yes, my other children are able to do circles around her- both in school and on their two-wheeled bikes. But who cares?!

How do you teach a struggling student?
1. You take it slow. Real slow. And if that isn't slow enough, you slow it down even more. Faith is proof that they will eventually get it! I've seen things click here recently in both reading and math. She is starting to read basic signs when we're at the grocery store. It makes me smile when she goes "hey mom! That sign says 'out of order'." It doesn't matter if she's just associated the "open" sign to be a certain color or position, or if she's actually reading it, I'm just happy that she's noticing words and that words are everywhere! Plus, it builds her confidence when she tells me what something says and I tell her "great job!" In math, she generally gets real confused when she's counting items. We can have 15 blocks on the table and she'll have to count them three or four times just to come up with the right number. However, in the last week or two she's realizing that if she takes one away she KNOWS that there are 14 and doesn't have to recount. Or if I put them in groups of two, she's able to count by 2s and not touch and count each individual block. It's a slow process, but she's improving. And I have 10 more years to get her "up to par" so to speak.

2. You have to trust that God will supply you with your needs! Yes, your needs. It would be so easy to doubt that you are actually able to teach your struggling student. It would be so easy to just send them to someone else. Please hear me, you can do it. It won't be easy and you may cry many tears over your situation. But you can do it! Children need very few things, and the first comes naturally, love. You love your child so much that all you can think about is making sure they aren't laughed at or teased and if your child struggles in multiple areas, it's (unfortunately) a great possibility that it will happen- at some point. Do not let your fear of this cause you to push your child beyond a point that they can handle. Share your fears with God, but do not let the fear of other people judging you (and your teaching ability) or the fear of your child being teased make you go overboard in an effort to "catch them up". Love your child enough to accept them. Fully and wholly.

3. Get it out of your head that there is any such thing as normal. For some children, they take off reading at age 10 instead of 5. Think about what you struggle with as an adult. I absolutely hate math. And I'm not good at it. Even simple math I'm liable to make a stupid mistake. My husband, however, can add numbers in his head (and I require pen and paper). The flip side is that I'm a great reader and speller, but he is not. Does it really matter what age they mastered a subject or does it just matter that they are learning? Once you are able to let go of the fact that your child does indeed struggle and that it's okay, you'll be better off. Do your child a favor and let them learn at their pace. Accept this as "normal".

4. Find what works. A benefit to homeschooling is being able to learn in non-traditional methods. Just because she struggles, it doesn't mean she can't learn. Writing is a challenge so I have her do some things orally. We read, a lot! After all, isn't that one of the greatest ways to learn? I read. She reads. Some days are better than others. On some days, it seems like she's on top of things. On other days, it seems like her brain isn't wanting to process things. I give her clues when I see her stumble. At times, it seems like there's a glitch between her mind and everything else. I've seen her count to 9 and totally stumble over writing a 9. I gently remind her what she was going to write. She wouldn't get this in public school. Don't be afraid to go outside the box and find what works. Maybe textbooks aren't it, or maybe they are.

It's quite simple. Love them. Accept them. Encourage them. Build their confidence. Relax (and trust that God will see you both through).

Sure, she struggles in some area, but she is beautiful and lively! She's healthy and made in God's image. She loves to laugh and giggle. She's happy! I love my Faith Aubrey and I thank God for her!

Do you have a struggling student? What tips do you have for those in the same position?

Be sure to check out the body scrub giveaway I have going on through Friday, March 30th!



Michelle said...

You're correct! And there's nothing wrong in getting testing to rule out (or in) any other issues. We have dyslexia/dyscalculia over here as well as autism. It happens. Knowing makes it easier to deal with the issues too. I know for me, the mom, I worry less when I know there is a reason "why" this is going this way. I know you've been struggling along the way. You've come far!

Ryan and Carly said...

She's blessed to have a strong mama, family and God!

Blessings on her!!

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Beautiful post ;) :) :) I think you are so blessed to be in each others lives, too :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ;)

Tina Hollenbeck said...

My 10-year old struggles, especially with spelling...and it took her a long time to "click" with reading (where she still has minor struggles). Two things that do help her with spelling are to make things kinesthetic and visual as much as possible - she is right-brained, so those techniques help - and slowing down. Literally. If she tries to spell a word quickly, she just writes down what first comes to her and it's almost always wrong. However, if she slows down and thinks, just for a bit, she almost always gets it right. So just this week I told her that I think spelling is God's gift to her to help her slow down - because she's fast in how she lives in general. It made her smile...but I think it's true. And that's the other thing I've learned: help the child to see God's hand in how she's been uniquely made!

Shelly said...

I agree that all children can learn! When I was teaching and students weren't making the progress needed, I always first looked in the mirror and changed my strategies. Think outside of the box and try lots of different approaches. Set realistic goals and monitor progress so you know what is working (and what isn't). Keep the faith - she's a sweetheart!


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