Children who are slow learners are not learning-disabled. In general, they want to learn but lack the ability to process information well. Often children will be considered slow learners in one subject but not in others; a child who excels at language arts, for instance, may have difficulty in mathematics. Specific techniques can help the slow-learning child with mathematics.
Slow learners need more time to understand and figure out how to use basic concepts. They may require more thorough revision and review for the basic concepts to make sense to them. They also require more time to perform math computations while practicing or testing. Pressuring a child to perform at a time standard beyond his abilities will only reduce his confidence, making learning more difficult.
Slow learners have difficulty with new concepts, so wherever possible new concepts should be related to previously learned ones. The connection with the previous concept helps to build confidence in the subject and provides a framework upon which to build mastery of new skills.
Real World Examples
Many slow learners use their fingers when performing calculations at an age at which the faster learners have left this behind, so teaching a new skill such as addition or multiplication is made easier when the instructor gives real-world examples or allows for physical representations of the math problem. Because slow learners have difficulty with imaginary concepts, the physical example provides guidance and structure.
Because slow learners need more time to absorb new concepts, frequent reviewing can be helpful. More frequent exposure to the new concept, in shorter blocks of time such as five- or 10-minute review sessions, can speed up the learning process slightly for the slow learner.
Slow learners tend to have low confidence levels. They know they are learning more slowly than others and may have been teased at school for it. Low confidence impedes anyone's ability to learn, so it's important to reward the student's performance. Giving her a special treat for improved performance in school or finishing an assignment on time will create positive associations with math that outweigh the negatives.