Encouragement Corner: My Student Is Trying, but Just Not Learning as Expected

Encouragement Corner is a new feature here at Guilt-Free Homeschooling, sort of a mini-seminar for the busy moms who can’t spare the time or expense to go to a major homeschooling conference, but who still need answers to their biggest questions. We’ll be grouping a few of the most-often-recommended articles around a central issue and making those articles easier to share on Pinterest by adding a photo or graphic as needed.

This is a question we hear frequently. Mom is presenting the subject well, but Student just isn’t picking up on the material, no matter how hard he tries. What’s going wrong?

This problem usually can be attributed to moving ahead too quickly. The student may have been understanding everything quickly up to a certain point, but when that point was reached, he continued on at the same break-neck pace as before, not fully realizing that he had missed something important. As further lessons depended on the missing concept(s), the student became confused, began to work more slowly, and couldn’t catch on to the new material, regardless of how diligently he persevered. I call these “educational potholes,” because the missing information creates a serious bump in the road to progress.

The way to get back on track is to back up and fill in the pothole, but it’s not always obvious where that hole is or what went wrong to create it. A skill can be lacking due to a mix-up or confusion over the information, teaching materials that present the facts incorrectly or insufficiently, moving too quickly and assuming the child is ready to proceed, or from presenting the information in a learning style that is contrary to how the student learns best. The articles linked below will give you some good pointers for checking what your student knows and finding exactly where the insufficient skill is located. Once you’ve found the problem, you can focus on helping your student learn that information correctly. Some of the potholes we found could be explained away in a matter of minutes, while others took a few days or even weeks to adequately reteach (in the case of material not learned in public school that was relearned through homeschooling).

Sometimes we adults don’t remember just how difficult it was for us to learn new things, such as reading, handwriting, or arithmetic. Some of the articles below break those subjects down into smaller segments to help you teach your students one important step at a time.

The most important point to remember in this process is that finding a pothole is a good thing! Your student was obviously hampered by the missing skill, and once he has mastered it, he will be able to catch up very quickly.

For further tips, see:

Meatball Education: Filling in the Potholes of Public School

Handwriting — Beginning Techniques

Why Does Math Class Take SO LONG? 

Building Blocks for Success in Math

Building Blocks for Success in Spelling

Looking for the Hard Part

Learning Styles

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