Who are slow learners? Here’s how we can help them

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Slow learning is not a learning disability. Here’s how we can help slow learners meet challenges and overcome learning issues.

Learning is an essential but complicated process that one pursues throughout their life. As in any other field, changes are inevitable in the education sector as well. While technological innovations have been received well by educationists, many schools continue to promote the traditional one-size-fits-all approach in teaching.

The problem with such an approach is that not all students can adapt to a rigid and fast-paced style of learning. Due to this, a gap forms between their true ability and their performance level and such children are then dubbed slow learners.

Who is a slow learner?
To put misconceptions to rest, slow learning is not a learning disability. It is used to describe a student with the ability to acquire all academic skills at a rate below than that of the average student.

No student is weak or bright by birth; it’s the way we feed the knowledge and how they imbibe it which makes them so.
A slow learner needs more time, more repetition and more resources from teachers to be successful. These students do not have intellectual disability, but it takes them longer to understand and grasp concepts.

Many parents feel apprehensive about their child’s pace of learning and put pressure on them. This is a wrong practice.
Parents and teachers need to refrain from giving negative feedback to children. These negative comments further affect children’s learning process as they begin to believe in their inability to learn.

What are the challenges faced by slow learners?
Regular classroom learning focuses on the acquisition of new skills based on previously learnt concepts. When the majority of the students are learning at a faster pace, a slow learner tends to be left behind.

This creates a knowledge gap in basic concepts and skills and reduced comprehension ability across a wide spectrum of academic areas.

A slow learning child not only faces educational challenges but social and personal challenges as well.

As a result of their inability to match the learning pace of their peers, they might consider themselves lesser than others. This will affect their self-confidence and self-esteem.
They find it difficult to bond with children of their age group and are often excluded from extracurricular activities, sports, and other activities.

This aggravates the problem as they become prone to anxiety and negative self-image.

6 tips to help a slow learner
There are numerous ways to help a child who is a slow learner. Here are a few methods that are known to help slow learners:

  1. Praise and reward: Motivation works wonders for slow learners. To help them continue learning, it is important to acknowledge even the smallest victory and offer rewards for each milestone.
  2. Set realistic expectations and smaller targets: As a parent and an educator, it is essential to understand what is achievable for the child and set targets accordingly.
  3. Be supportive: Slow learners should be taught to learn from their failures. They should be encouraged to explore and learn at their own pace until they succeed.

Parents and educators should be vocally supportive and teach them via oral assignments that are in tune with their competency.

  1. Encourage peer tutoring: This is one of the most effective strategies for slow learners. Parents and teachers should encourage slow learners to study in groups. The more a child interacts with others of his/her age, the more confident he/she will feel.
  2. Encourage multiple intelligence: If the child shows interest in any co-curricular activity, it is essential to support them. This boosts their confidence and they start feeling socially accepted.
  3. Encourage interaction and oral communication: Slow learners should be encouraged to voice their thoughts. Parents should ask their children about their day at school, have discussions on TV shows, sports and music.


Teachers and parents should focus on strengthening the child’s comprehension ability by giving short directions that can be repeated and followed from time to time so as to maintain a healthy level of confidence.

Slow learners need extra support from parents and educators. If proper guidance is not provided, they often feel neglected and start resenting school. They develop a pessimistic attitude, which ultimately affects their academic performance.

Therefore, it is essential to maintain a positive attitude and offer support to slow learners to eliminate many factors that hinder learning, such as distractions, annoying peers, a fast classroom pace and a competitive atmosphere.

Education can thus become the major factor in helping slow learners develop into well-rounded individuals.

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