Life

Learn or Fall Behind – Teaching Lower Ability Children

Since the children return back to school today after half term, I was thinking about how teachers manage children who are classed as ‘lower ability’ children.

Do they get extra support in order to catch up with their peers?

I’ve realised many schools are different when it comes to teaching children. When I was training as a teaching assistant, I proceeded with work experience in a school where they assigned lower ability children on a specific table where the teaching assistants could provide extra support for them during lessons.

I worked on this table with these children. I noticed how much they’d wanted to get everything right and learn, but they’d constantly needed explaining what they needed to do even after the teacher had already explained.

I worked with a little boy on this table and he needed the most support to complete his work. I usually had to go through what he thought the answers were and also used a whiteboard so that he could copy the answers down in his workbook after we had discussed the work we were doing.

It was a good school but I did notice sometimes that this child was subjected to being called ‘lazy’ and getting into trouble for not finishing his work, or just because his handwriting was sloppy. I was working in Year 3 which was for ages 7-8 year olds.

Is this acceptable for a teacher to punish a child for not being able to do their work because they don’t understand, or simply because their handwriting isn’t the neatest? I understand that teachers are there to teach our children, but what if the child is genuinely struggling but is getting labelled as ‘naughty’ and has to miss their break times because they just didn’t do their work well enough?

I honestly think this produces a negative effect on children and will have them think negatively about themselves and their abilities.

This little boy I worked with was eager to learn and you could see he was trying but he would constantly get upset because of his frustration over not being able to do what the other children could do.

I felt for this little boy. He wasn’t a naughty child. He just learnt things at his own pace like many children do. We are all wired differently and learn things at different rates. It’s just part of being who we are as human beings. We all learn differently too.

For example: Some people are visual learners. Others are auditory learners and finally there’s kinesthetic learners.

I’m not bashing at teachers because I know they work hard, but i’m just thinking perhaps they need to take a step in a child’s shoes to understand what they may be having difficulties with and not be so hard on them if they’re not at the same rate as the other children in the classroom.

Praising them for what they have done, encouraging them with positive feedback of how they could improve their work, and supporting them if they need the support helps push the child up to a similar level as the other children.

I still want to be a teaching assistant for that exact reason. I want to be able to support children who struggle and let them know that it’s ok not to understand something first time, and that it’s ok to not get things right every time – that’s the whole point of learning.

You will make mistakes but you will get there in the end. I’ve been told that Faith is behind compared to the other children in her class, but I’ve reassured her that it’s ok and she will pick it up in her own time.

When I was a child in primary school, I struggled with maths and to this day I still do but I had tried my best and had extra support with it when I was growing up. I just seem to be good at other things instead.

Did it make me feel dumb because I couldn’t understand it like other children of my age could?

YES!

I wanted to be like other children who knew their times tables off by heart but I just couldn’t get the jist of it.

I want my children to know it’s ok to struggle with maths or reading and writing, and that they shouldn’t feel bad because of it. As long as they try their bests, they will finally begin to understand it. In the end it could take weeks, month’s or even years but I don’t want them feeling like a failure because they aren’t simply able to understand it straight away.

As adults, we are there to teach our children the basics of life and the tools that they need to become who they want to be. I do not believe we are here to punish them for not being as bright as other kids in their class.

This post may come across as bashing a teacher’s priorities, but i’m really not. I’m just speaking from my experiences from what I have seen first hand whilst working in a school, and how children who need extra support instead are punished rather than helped. I believe that’s where naughty behaviour of a child can stem from sometimes – frustrations from not being listened to.

I believe children aren’t naughty for the fun of it – just children who are misunderstood and a little frustrated. Simply overwhelmed with trying to be the best they can be and try to fit in with everybody else.

 

I would love to hear your views on this topic. Do you agree with my theories? Or perhaps you may think the complete opposite. Either way let me know in the comment section below!

 

If you liked this post, please drop us a like & share with your friends! You can read more posts here!

 

-Zoe

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