As a parent and an educator, I understand the struggles one may feel when trying to build and academic bridge of security for your “struggling” learner. Many times the road may be windy and often foggy. However, I do believe that with these easy basic tips you will be on a road to empowerment or at least, see a clearer road toward academic success.
Tip 1. A System of Consistency
Consistency is the key to any major or minor accomplishments. Whether you are on a diet or are learning a new skill, regardless of age, consistency may create the mastery you are seeking. As a parent creating an at home schedule where your struggling learner may follow on a daily basis will allow you and your child to have a routine, something he will grow to expect.
Most struggling learners do not like surprises because they are already stressed about not understanding what they are “supposed” to know. However here are some examples of some consistent routines you may create: schedules for homework, chores, bedtimes, showers, curfews, etc. This will build a foundation of following a routine and the expectations that come along with them, preparing your child for their school setting and life.
As an educator, consistency with routines is key as well, whether or not a child has a routine at home. Preparing your students with the knowledge of where they may find the daily objectives, the format of how the class time will be spent, when to ask for extra help, creating a schedule of review and or writing notes in an organized differentiated manner that allows students on all levels to access the information independently, are just some of the great examples you can use to create a system of consistency. The key is that once you start, you must upkeep these behaviors so that your students can build a sense of security and understanding within the routine, providing less stress for the unknown. Consistency requires more from you as a parent/educator and it may test your limits but in the end, it will show all involved that we are human and sometimes make mistakes. It will also allow our children to see that if you make a mistake and fall off of your routine, there is always the opportunity to try again and pick up where you left off.
Tip 2. Communication for Understanding
There are many ways to communicate., body language, written language, oral language and any other way you may think of to get a message across to someone. However, when you are communicating for understanding, you want to ensure that all involved in your discourse understand the language or the form of communication you are sharing with them. I like to think of it as me having a teacher who can only communicate in mandarin and I only understand English. We both can communicate but neither understands what the other is saying. Wouldn’t that be an interesting class? How would we expect to learn for understanding? What would be the takeaways? We would have to resort to other forms of communication that we had similar understandings with, perhaps sign and body language in order to build a bridge. The point is, you must understand who you are as a parent or an educator and identify how you communicate best. Then you would need to identify how your child/student thrives best in order to build a strong bridge of communication. So what would that look like? Well first, once you identify your comfort levels of communication and you identify how they respond best to you, highlight those areas. Maybe your child prefers oral directions or maybe simplified chunked directions. At times, you may realize that your child may need to be a hands-on tactile learner where you lead by example. Regardless of the kind of communication, you will remain consistent and will take the time to learn the child as an individual to highlight how they understand best.
Tip 3. Highlight the Positive
There is always an opportunity to recognize the positive in someone. Waking up in the morning and coming to school or getting out of bed may be recognized as a positive. Building the kind of relationship with a child that provides a sense of security in knowing you recognize something special in them is amazing. When a child feels and knows you care they will respond to you accordingly. Highlighting the positive such as completing or attempting to complete homework or praise on neat handwriting may be the little things that make a child want to do more in order to hear more praise. Letting a child know you care about who they are and what they do will provide the greatest reward for both you and them in the end.
Now that we have our top three tips, give them a try and let us know how they have worked out for you. Remember this is a process that will never end. It is a new way of seeing your world and its the best way to live if you want a happier child and a better home/school life. We are a community of diverse learners and preparing for diversity through education will allow for bigger strides and successes to be met!
Watch the Blab interview with Renee Pena and I as we discuss helping struggling quirky learners.