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How can you teach Slow Learners?


Table of Contents

Jan 28 2021

Reading Time: 8 minutes

  • Why is my child slow in academics?

  • Is my child a slow learner?

  • Is slow learning a disability?

  • How to confirm if my child is a slow learner?

  • Will my child ever remain as a slow learner?

  • Is there a solution to overcome slow learning?

If these are the questions that are bothering you, then you have landed at the right place to free your worries.

The term “Slow Learner” is despicable. It is deplorable to label a child as anything. But to label them as 'slow' is demeaning and degrading, not to mention directly that they are not as good as others.

Nevertheless, these are the children who do need extra help and who do need specialized teaching to allow them to learn and grow. They may be paced slow in their learning, but this does not mean they are incapable.

Kid who is learning slow and parent helping him

Slow learners have no learning disorders, but they perform poorly in school and exhibit discrepancy between expected and actual achievement, based on their intellectual ability assessment scores.

As children advance in school, there is a corresponding increase in difficulty when learning school subjects. Slow learners are often ignored by others as dull and lazy.

Thus, slow learner’s performance depends progressively more on their motivation to sustain an active commitment and efforts taken towards self-regulated learning which this blog will cover. 

It is more important to know how to identify, distinguish, and apply strategies to improve the performance of slow learners, which is indexed in the below table.

You can hit the target straight and get the knowledge out. As you keep reading, in the next few minutes you will get to know more about who slow learners are, and how their capability can be proven.

Who is a Slow Learner?

Slow leaners

Slow learners are children whose IQ ranks between 70 - 90%. Their educational attainment is less than 80% of what is normal for their age. However, they are not mentally challenged.

They are low in achieving academic skills and often ignored as a part of the school setting, being considered dull and lazy. Slow learners are poor in meeting minimum academic requirements in comparison with normal students.

They not only lag in comparison with other students in academics but at times also in areas of social, emotional, and psychological well-being. It has been estimated that 5 to 15 per cent of school-going children suffer from scholastic backwardness.

It should not be ignored that slow learners are as capable as normal children, and all they need is more time and attention from a certain perspective to achieve success.

Let us discuss this in detail in the topics that are to follow.

  • Is Being a Slow Learner, a Disability?

  • It stands crucial to know, is slowly learning a disability?

  • What we cannot buy in this world is time. Slow the child performs, the more the time the child consumes. 

A slow learner is a child whose thinking skills have developed significantly more slowly than normal for his or her age.

This child will go through the same basic developmental stages as other children but will do so at a significantly slower rate.

Slow learning is not a disability, but if not discovered and treated at early stages, may lead to learning and attention issues like dyslexia, etc.,

Before we progress in knowing the strategies that help a child to overcome being a slow learner, it is vital to know the symptoms of a slow learner.

The following topic discusses the symptoms that dig deep about slow learners. Download the PDF below to understand the symptoms of slow learners and how you can identify one.

📥  How can you teach Slow Learners?


Slow Learner Symptoms

Children differ from one another physically, intellectually, scholastically, emotionally, and culturally. Various symptoms detail a child as a slow learner but, do not intentionally have to mean that these characteristics refer to a slow learner.

The considerations differ from case to case. Though we have listed below a few symptoms, it does not exactly have to mean that the child is a slow learner if any of the child’s action(s) fall in the below list.

This list should serve a purpose to guide the child and not to label.

General Symptoms

Immature language patterns or speech problems

Poor judgment, immature social behaviour

Frustration, aggression, anxiety

Difficulties transferring information learned in one situation to other situations

Symptoms that impact learning skills

  • Does not like to read

  • Shows proficiency in other tasks rather than a subject area

  • Poor memory

  • Difficulties understanding several steps in a task

  • Repeats words and may not read fluently

  • Confuses similar letters, words, symbols

  • Has difficulty comprehending math concepts

Symptoms that impact behaviour

  • Emotional instability (violent reactions)

  • Low self-concept/self-esteem

  • General dis-organization (time and actions)

  • Hyperactivity (gross, noisy, constant movements)

  • Hypoactivity (quiet, nervous, fidgety)

  • Poor concentration span (distractibility)

Slow Learners Teaching Strategies

kid teaching students

More than the child, the parent and the educator needs to sustain self-confidence in applying the strategies to help improve the child in areas the child lags or feels backwards.

  • Compensatory Teaching

  • Alter the presentation of content to circumvent a student’s fundamental weakness or deficiency. Supplement the coaching period with additional learning resources and activities like group discussions, cooperative learning, etc.,

Remedial Teaching

Remedial teaching is the use of activities, techniques, and practices to eliminate weaknesses or deficiencies that the slow learner is known to have.

For example deficiencies in basic math skills are reduced or eliminated by reteaching the content that was not learned earlier.

Instructional Strategies for Slow Learners

While no single technique or set of techniques is sufficient for teaching the slow learner, the suggestions that follow are a starting point for developing instructional strategies that specifically address their learning needs. 

  • Develop Lessons that Incorporate the Student’s interests, needs, and experiences. This helps address the short attention spans of slow learners. Also, these students should be made to feel that some of the instruction has been designed with their specific interests or experiences in mind.

  • Frequently Vary Your Instructional Technique: Switching from lecture to discussion and then to work provides the variety that slow learners need to stay engaged in the learning process. In addition to keeping their attention, variety in instructional technique offers them the opportunity to see the same content presented in different ways.

  • Incorporate Individualized Learning Materials: Slow learners respond favourably to frequent reinforcement of small segments of learning. Therefore, programmed texts and interactive computer instruction often are effective in remediation of the basic skills of slow learners.

  • Incorporate Audio and Visual Materials: One common characteristic among slow learners is that they often learn better by seeing and hearing than by reading. Incorporating films, videotapes, and audio into lessons helps accommodate the instruction to the strategies learning modalities among slow learners.

How to Identify Slow Learners?

One of the most difficult tasks of a parent and educator is to determine if their child is a slow learner. In general, slow learners either cannot keep up with others or they choose not to keep up with others.

A child who is labelled a slow learner is one who,

  • Reaches normal infant and toddler milestones later than the average child and these milestones include crawling, walking, speech, and more.

  • Has trouble concentrating. All children have limited attention spans. But, those who have trouble concentrating for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time and are unable to recall what they did in that time and or repeat what they did without instruction or prompting, later on, will likely need specialized attention and be labelled as slow learners.

  • Struggles with the simplest of concepts and has difficulty retaining what they learn. This is a true indicator of a child as a slow learner. But, rather than focusing on the issue, focusing on how to work with the issue to make it less is important.

  • Is socially immature or reclusive. Children who are labelled slow learners will notice the fact they are slow or learning at a different pace.

How to Teach Slow Learners?

how you can teach slow learners

If your child is labelled a slow learner, then slow things down for the child. give the grace and time the child deserves to reach the expected potential. provide the environment and tools that are necessary to excel. What can you do to help the child?

  • Provide a quiet work or study area where distractions are detrimental

  • Keep assignments and homework sessions short, so that the attention span can be addressed

  • Be accessible to help the child. Help does not mean do the work for the child but help the child work through the assignment giving clues. Have the child repeat the process or concept with similar questions and problems, etc.

  • Ask questions such as what does that word mean?

  • Do you see how that works?

  • Why did you choose that answer? etc.

  • Read to your child

  • Be patient and consistent

  • Do not allow them to give up on their work or themselves. if necessary take a break, but always come back to the task and see it through to completion.

  • Be their advocate. Stay connected with their teachers and make sure the child does not fall through the cracks of the system.


Think about it, if your child is a gifted musician, wouldn't you do whatever you could to make sure the child could develop the talent to the fullest? No child deserves any less of a chance.

Being singled out by the teacher and or by their peers as being slow will be embarrassing and humiliating the child.

Their self-esteem and confidence levels will suffer tremendously and they will withdraw to shield themselves from the pain holding it inside themselves.

So, labelling the child as a slow learner will only make the child feel slower.

Don't ever tell the child that he or she cannot accomplish. Instead, help the child to find a way to get it done in his or her own time.

Every child is a born genius and every child has the potential to be what they want to be. Let's give our best attempt and put our best efforts to pave the way for the child in achieving things in their time.

Correct them in their time and pace them run with others, to prove that they are no less than others.

 My suggestions would be to engage yourself with the child, apply the strategies, and analyze how well the efforts have been fruitful to the child. Post your suggestions and experiences.

Reading the testimonies will bring confidence to those visiting this blog looking for a solution to have their concerns fixed. Do comment to know more, if there are any questions unanswered.

It will be a learning curve for me as well, as learning is an endless curve...

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the IQ level of the slow learner?

The slow learner is generally considered as a student who achieves a full-scale score between 70 to 85 (or 89) on formal IQ testing.

This range of IQ is thus considered as a borderline intellectual disability (cognitive impairment) or low average intellectual capability.

What are the signs of a slow learner?

Common signs that a person may have learning disabilities include the following:

  • Problems reading and/or writing.
  • Problems with math.
  • Poor memory.
  • Problems paying attention.
  • Trouble following directions.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Trouble telling time.
  • Problems staying organized.

What causes a slow learning disability?

Psychological trauma or abuse in early childhood may affect brain development and increase the risk of learning disorders. Physical trauma.

Head injuries or nervous system infections might play a role in the development of learning disorders. Environmental exposure.

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