We enter the 21st century with the assurance that the world in which the next generation will grow up, learn, work and play will be very different from the one we know.
Slow learners are unavoidable intrinsic part of our generation. Being a slow learner is a lifelong problem. Parents, teachers and sometimes learners themselves tend to bear pessimistic attitude towards their future advancement or progress. There are multifarious ways to guide slow learners effectively.
Understanding the problems of slow learners is the first requisite. Learners who are slow may have problems not only with math and reading but also with coordination such as penmanship, sports, dressing, intellectual reasoning or abstract thinking. They often have a short attention span.
Where as societies are becoming more open, qualifications, flexibility and mobility are expected to be at a premium. In this race the slow learners grow up with a poor self esteem. So the learners should start learning with a positive frame of mind. To help them grow we can adopt these procedures.
Generating confidence: Making the slow learners more confident is an important issue. Confidence can be conveyed verbally in clear, purposeful instructions and explanations that are not disrupted by hesitation. Eye contact is a crucial aspect of conveying confidence to the slow learners.
A nervous person avoids eye contact, somehow being afraid of knowing what others are thinking, not wanting to develop a relationship that might ultimately reveal their inability or weakness. The eyes of the instructor should be clear, helpful, non-threatening and encouraging so the learners can guess that somebody helpful is beside him or her. Moreover to increase confidence, sometimes, acceptance of the slow learners' difficulties or mistakes is needed. In their familiar environment these ways can be suggested:
* Engaging them in some easy household chores like asking for having a glass of water or a pen from the pen box etc. It will make the learners more responsible & confident about their working ability.
* Rewarding for small accomplishments can add extra incentive.
* Discovering the learners best by their active participation physically, or by listening, reward giving or visual assistance, or by orally speaking ( reading out loud), or by smelling, or tasting, or by becoming emotionally involved and feeling something within or by a combination of some or all of the above increases confidence as well as determines the best suited learning environment.
* Reducing stress can also increase self confidence.
Showing proper care: Notwithstanding the slow progress of the learners with the commitment to their well being and learning by effective mannerism and full self engagement requires supporting tendency or caring attitude of the instructors. Since, slow learners apt to think more than memorizing, they need caring teachers who will plan to promote quick logical thinking of the learners. Prior to that these few things should be ensured:
* Ensuring a peaceful family environment or learning friendly setting.
* Spending more time with them by organizing indoor as well as outdoor activities. Parental separation disorder or mutual disagreement of the parents increases loneliness. Loneliness and dissatisfaction make the learners slower.
* Arranging activities like social gathering, party or outdoor shopping and enjoying as well as participating in sports events like running activities make them more prompt, social & innovative.
Communicating effectively: For effective communication, being able to listen effectively along with taking account of the response is an important issue. It is told that a good teacher should not talk. Rather he or she should create listening. Here creating listening means delivering speech in such a way that it will sound more than just talking. Listening and understanding should be simultaneous process. Slow learners require both verbal communication and non-verbal communication.
Through verbal communication the instructor can stimulate thoughts and feelings and get everyone 'involved' mentally, emotionally and physically. Sometimes, the learners may have the materials to touch, hear, see, smell, taste and feel. It is true that learners learn and study in different ways. It also depends on the emotional and psychological aptitude of the learners. As mind controls everything, making the slow learners more mindful & attentive towards study can ensure their eclectic progress. Here there are some helpful ways to make the slow learners more mindful.
* Mind takes the nature of the thoughts it holds. The mind is like a sponge.
A sponge sucks up liquid substance it rests on or anything that is nearer to it. Mind transcends thoughts and senses through the power of imagination and concentration, thus gains knowledge of the self. The positive outcome of learning is recalling and using knowledge at the right time or situation. In that case the learner who is slow in learning should learn through active revision of the things learnt by repetition, memorization and association.
* Learning to focus on the mind through our ability to pay attention to what we experience from moment to moment without drifting into thoughts of the side- talk as children usually delve into is a powerful antidote to the stresses and strains of our on-the-go lives.
* Ensuring proper nutrition to the growing learners, proper stimulation, thought-provoking parent-child interactions, non-material resources, better health care and other unspecified processes will seek out structured learning opportunities for the slow learners and enhance their cognitive and academic success.
* Associating or correlating academic learning with familiar world increases attention.
* Investigating variation in intelligence level of children according to mother's education and taking steps accordingly are necessary. Because the intellectual level of the children gradually increases with the increase in mother's education level. The effect of mother's education on problem behavior of the children is also significant.
At last, we can say that slow learners do not mean bad learners. If they get proper care, confidence and guidance they can even do better than very prompt learner in future. All that they need is extra care and supportive home environment.
The writer is Associate Professor & Director, Institute of Modern Languages (IML) at Jagannath University, Dhaka. Her email address is email@example.com
----Protiva Rani Karmaker
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