Helping Struggling Learners - 3 Easy Tips

Written By Kelley Birch
June 15, 2021 7:12 PM

I HATE SCHOOL!!! Have you ever heard those words spew from the lips of one of your children or someone you know? For struggling learners, “school” is a place of pain and agony. Whether the source of the struggle is a learning disability, bad experiences in the past, or the inability to unlock their individual creativity, the results are the same. Struggling learners cringe when they hear the word “school.” 

I have worked with struggling learners for many years. My experience has been working in special education, correctional education, and providing support to homeschool parents and students. Over the years, I have learned some great tips and tricks to engage struggling learners to get them on a path to success. Here are three things to do that will be game-changing for your struggling learners:

1. Identify the subjects and types of assignments that are causing stress. 

Often, it comes across as everything, but when you really observe your learner’s body language and reactions, you will see that there are specific tasks that are causing the stress. For example, if you have a child who struggles with reading and they are assigned the task of reading a chapter in their history book, you most likely will observe immediate apathy, push-back, and avoidance to complete the assignment. 


2. When possible, use an assignment that will bypass your learner’s weaknesses. 

Give him/her the ability to learn content through their personal strengths. Ask your learner for their input, giving them a voice in how they would prefer to learn the subject matter.  

For instance, in the example from #1, instead of having your learner read a chapter in the history book, which will be difficult and stressful, have him/her watch a dvd, YouTube, or some other audio/visual format on the subject matter. If possible, sit with them and pause/discuss content, when appropriate. 


3. When it is time to assess learning, give your learner choices in how he/she will demonstrate what has been learned. 

Instead of a typical test, provide three options for them  to choose from, such as writing/composing a song that highlights the main concepts learned, drawing a comic strip with captions to identify main ideas, or participate in an oral discussion with you, their family, etc, talking about the main ideas, how that event impacted the culture at the time, etc.

If you need additional support, Uschool is ready to be a part of your community and travel this journey with you. Struggling students are full of unlocked potential! We are here to help!

Kelley Birch

About the Author

As a Special Education teacher, Kelley spent 20 years serving homeschooled students, 17 years with the California Department of Corrections Division of Juvenile Justice (formerly CYA), 8 years working in private school as an elementary teacher and Resource Specialist, and 3 years with the Department of Education as a Title I Program Reviewer/Consultant.

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