You have been teaching this year for a while now, and perhaps you have discovered that the learning curve is sometimes steep. Some concepts may come quickly to your student, and some may be highly challenging. Learning gaps and challenges are incredibly common scenarios. A child who cruised through addition may struggle to grasp subtraction. A child who is excellent at getting their thoughts on paper may struggle with punctuation or parts of speech. Sometimes it may be challenging to identify what the problem is.
As the primary educator responsible for my child’s learning, I carry significant weight when they struggle. I question where I went wrong and what I could have done differently. I get stuck in a cycle of guilt and overwhelm trying to figure out how to move forward. Does this resonate with you? You haven’t failed! It is essential to know that this is normal.
Additionally, regardless of your chosen curriculum, some concepts may need additional resources or alternative methods/materials. Hitting a learning roadblock can be the most frustrating and challenging part of homeschooling, but I promise you, nothing is impossible, and you are not alone. The struggle is determining the best way to proceed. There are supports and tools in place to help, as well as practical ways to identify the problems and strategize a way through them.
1. Identify the gaps.
We are usually aware when our kids just aren’t getting something. We know they’ve hit a wall, but it isn’t always clear where they stumbled or what was missed along the way. Learning is like building with Legos. Those kits don’t quite work if essential pieces are missing. It isn’t possible to strategize until you identify what is missing. As in the Lego example, sometimes you must go back a few steps and take apart some of what you’ve already built. The most important place to start is a conversation with your child. An investigation needs to take place, and you and your child are the investigators. Finding the missing piece can feel overwhelming or like finding a needle in a haystack. There are many ways to identify learning gaps, and your HST is your best resource and partner to begin this navigation with. They are highly skilled educators with tools and resources for identifying gaps and finding solutions.
2. Come up with a strategy
So, now you’ve identified the gap. There are many different strategies and options. Below are some that may work for you.
- Adjust your curriculum. Adjust doesn’t automatically mean changing or quitting what you already are using. You may have the perfect curriculum but need something else until the gap is closed.
- Change your teaching method. This idea goes with the suggestion above. Try a unit study, something hands-on, flashcards, games, etc. Visit our Lending Library. We likely have something.
- Make it fun. The struggle has likely been discouraging for everyone.
- Go backward if you need to. Do not try to press forward and hope that the gap will fill itself.
- Allow your child to own the problem and the solution. This can be highly empowering.
- We have SO MANY excellent programs, one of which is WiN: What I Need. The WiN program is in place to help close the gaps.
- Free apps and programs on your Clever dashboard are available and ready to use.
- Utilize the Star tests that our students take three times a year. These tests show areas of strength and weakness. You can use this tool to identify foundational skills that might be missing.
3. Be consistent
My HST once told me that the right curriculum is the one you stick to and do with consistency. We all know that when math gets done routinely, it becomes easier to accomplish, and more progress is made. Once you create a plan to address a learning gap, commitment is critical. I have realized that some of the gaps we have faced in my home resulted from me (or my children) avoiding the difficult things that needed to be done. Tackling those challenges required time and work. Prioritizing and committing to that goal was essential. Again, if the time or energy isn’t there for you at this time or with this struggle, there are resources and programs to help. Press into your support with your HST and our many programs and offerings. Anything that feels different may be fun and exciting. Pass the baton for this leg of the race if you need to. Choose whatever can be done daily and is easy to be consistent with.
4. Be encouraged
Everyone struggles. We all have challenges to overcome. For some kids, it may be in math or reading and writing. At some point in any subject, there will be hills and valleys to travel through. Your child is so fortunate to have you by their side, cheering them on, coaching them, teaching them, and helping them when things are hard. Identifying struggles takes courage for you and your student. Conquering these challenges will grow you in beautiful ways and pave the path for success and endurance for the challenges and victories ahead.
You’ve got this, and you’re never alone!
Kara Parkins, Parent Support Advisor