What do you do when your child comes home from school one day and you realize he can’t do basic mathematics? We had that very situation happen at our house recently. Our youngest sat down at the dinner table to do a little routine homework, or so I thought. I observed him scratching his head with a look of angst and sighs of exasperation. When I looked at the mathematics worksheet it looked like basic addition and subtraction computation problems. But what I quickly discovered was what looked basic to me seemed a foreign concept to him. The alarm bells were going off in my head as I tried to process just how this child could slide through so many years at a school (KG1 – Year 3) and this issue had not been flagged!
It’s not uncommon for kids at various times to have academic struggles. The issue becomes how does a school and the teachers support students. Individualizing a students’ education is a complex task for the teacher. The y must first recognize the issue with the students’ learning and then begin to diagnose exactly what areas are of issue. Like any good doctor, a diagnosis needs the proper treatment in order for the patient to recover. In this case a teacher must have the skills and the training and tools to assist students that are struggling. In the case of my son, it was going back to the basics and spending additional time.
For other students it will require unique approaches to suit their individual learning needs. It is also important to note that individualized education is not just for struggling students. It is meant for all students, especially those that are gifted and talented. Students that are higher functioning don’t need MORE work they need challenging inquiry based work that is geared to their level of learning and understanding.
The good news in all of this is finding a problem early enough gives you time to help the student with their needs. Our youngest is on the road to mathematics recovery!