As most parents know, every child learns and develops differently. Although most kids who have a developmental delay of some sort will catch up to their peers by third or fourth grade, feeling “behind” or “less-than” can take a tremendous toll on parents and children alike.
Having worked in education for 12 years, I’ve learned that every child grasps difficult subject matters differently and at their own pace, and that children who deviate from the norm have just as much potential to succeed as those who learn in a more conventional way.
I’m a big proponent for two teaching principles – whole-child education and scaffolding – that are fortunately catching on in many schools. However, parents who are involved in their children’s education – whether that means homeschooling or just helping with homework – should be aware of them as well.
Whole Child Education
Whole child education prioritizes creating an environment where each student feels safe but challenged. Because everyone’s mind works differently, one universal, black-and-white style of teaching – especially for more “straightforward” concepts like spelling or mathematics – will only work for some kids. For example, if math doesn’t come easily to your child, teaching the “practical reason” behind problems – like using a number line for subtraction so kids who are more artistically-minded can visualize it – can be enormously helpful.
Scaffolding builds academic confidence in students by gradually increasing the difficulty of lessons, which prevents them from wanting to quit or give up. This technique is especially helpful for those kids who developed a bit later than their peers and are still insecure about their abilities. If your child is studying a new concept, start him off with questions that he can answer correctly 90% of the time, and then move on to progressively more challenging questions.
Kate Ballard-Rosa is the Managing Director of truePrep, a premium, online tutoring company that provides high-quality SAT tutoring at an affordable price. She previously worked as a tutor and is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley.