(The following is a post from Amy Vickrey, special needs/struggling learner teacher at True North Homeschool Academy.)
We all struggle. Sometimes our families struggle financially due to unexpected expenses or situations. Sometimes we struggle with finding enough time in the day because we work and homeschool, or we have therapy and doctors appointments that eat into our precious little time. Sometimes we struggle as a family because of personality conflicts and differences in needs. But what do we do when our kids struggle with doing the work we have given them to do?
When our children struggle with reading, writing, and math, it is sometimes hard to know what exactly is going on. Is it just this concept they are struggling with? Does math (or reading) come easy to them, whereas other things are harder? Especially if it is your first child, and if you have never taught children before, it is hard to know how much help you may need, or if you should just “wait it out.”
When our struggling learners are younger, it can be difficult to decide whether to seek help or not.
Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP suggests to take the following things into consideration:
- At least 7 ½ to 8 years of age?
- Is the child a boy or girl? Boys sometimes take longer to mature and be ready to learn.
- Can your child say (not sing) the ABC’s in order, differentiating L, M, N, O, and P?
- Can your child hold a pencil?
- When your child writes, does he reverse letters?
- Does your child have a desire, an eagerness to learn?
- Is a younger sibling catching on to concepts faster, or catching up?
- Does your child like to be read to?
By the age of around 10, children should be moving from learning to read to reading to learn. This means they should be able to read the words without much difficulty on age-appropriate levels and should be beginning to build an understanding of what they are reading and learn from it.
So what about older kids who need some help? At what point should you be concerned?
Can your child:
- Look at a set of objects (or fingers) and tell you how many are there (without counting, up to 10)?
- Know math addition and subtraction facts or a quick strategy to solve them (not counting fingers).
- Know multiplication and division facts or a quick strategy to solve them (not skip counting from the 1x place).
- Understand about multiples and factors
- Understand about decimals and fractions
- Tell time on an analog clock (not digital)
All children learn differently, and it is true that some children simply need time and repetition to be ready to learn certain concepts.
So when is it important to seek testing and/or services for struggling learners?
- When it will benefit your child to get them needed therapies
- When your child is preparing for a trade school or college/university that requires a current “diagnosis” for support
- When you choose to utilize services available from the local school district (this varies by state and district)
- When there are state services that are available to you with a diagnosis (such as audiobook programs available to those who have vision impairments or dyslexia diagnosis)
- To seek recommendations to better understand how to help your child learn (at these times, seeking out someone who understands homeschooling would be beneficial).
- Your child becomes overly frustrated by their limitations and struggles
Other things you can do to ease the struggles and frustrations as a parent:
- Find a support group of like-minded people, such as the Survive and Thrive: Special Needs Homeschooling
- Check out resources, like those available through SPED Homeschool
Feel like you need MORE help with your struggling learner? Check out our great struggling learner program at True North Homeschool Academy. We also do tutoring for struggling learners, as well as academic advising.
Amy Vickrey, MSE is a mother of a seven-year-old and almost three-year-old. Her homeschool journey began over 20 years ago when she saw how homeschooling enabled her sister who had memory issues and fell through the crack at school, to graduate and go to college. Amy knew then she wanted to implement what she saw – the love and individual attention – into her own teaching. She now homeschools her two boys and loves every minute of it! Having completed the second year of their homeschool journey, she is looking forward to many more to come!
Amy holds a Masters of Science in Education, Specializing in Curriculum and Instruction, from the University of Central Missouri and a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State University-San Marcos. Also, she spent 2 years of college studying Interpretation for the Deaf and Deaf Studies and knows American Sign Language. Her teaching certifications include Special Education, English as a Second Language and Generalist (early childhood through fourth). She is now part of the Struggling Learners Department of True North Homeschool Academy and loves the discovery approach to learning. Teaching children how to learn will help them reach their goals and dreams.
Amy Vickrey states, “My passion for learning and being a lifelong learner is something I want to pass on to the children I teach, as well as my own children. Making learning fun and engaging is an important part of this process. My goal is to lift others up to help them achieve their own goals and dreams.”