8 Essential Tips On How To Help Your Struggling Student Learn

Not a lot of children excel in academics — some, if not most struggle at understanding lessons on topics such as spelling, and reading.

Teaching a struggling student can be hard. You must have a lot of patience to teach him or her the topic again. It might take the child a lot of retries to keep up with the others.

It is also possible that the child can be a year or more behind in some subjects or areas. There are a lot of reasons behind the struggles. He or she may have physical disabilities that affect coordination, mobility, hearing, and sight. The child may also have dysgraphia, dyslexia, or auditory processing disorder.

Despite these, a child that’s struggling with his or her academics can be gifted in some areas such as mathematics but is having a hard time reading.

One of the most common struggles that kids have is not learning in a way that he or she can quickly grasp the lesson. Take, for example, the child may need the logic and structure of a phonetic approach when it comes to reading, but instead, the teacher teaches him or her in a whole language approach.

If you see one of your students struggling to learn the lesson, one of the most critical things you need to do is use teaching strategies and curriculum that is customized to meet the child needs. It’s also essential to find a school that has a Student Information System that can make life easier for students.

Whether you are teaching in a private school classroom or an online learning set-up, here are some tips to help you teach a struggling learner.

Choose an Incremental Approach

By incremental, it means that you teach lessons slowly from the most basic skills to the advanced ones. From lesson one, explain the basics then gradually increase the difficulty as you go along.

Using an incremental approach, you help the child learn one thing at a time in a logical and well-thought-out series. Using this, children won’t have a hard time climbing to the top of the learning ladder. Merely do it step by step and you will see how easy the child will master any skill without any struggle.

Use Direct Instruction

What is this? It is a method wherein the student is being taught the lessons he needs to learn. Here, the information is presented using a well-tested material which decreases the chances of any confusion or misinterpretation.

Aside from that, you should provide the child with instructions on how to correctly apply the information. By teaching the language patterns and rules, a child won’t have to figure out on his own or guess how to spell or read a difficult word.

Teach the 72 Basic Phonograms

A lot of children who are struggling with spelling and reading think that all they have to do is memorize some letters to read and spell successfully.  However, the truth is that kids can have a difficult time to remember words using this method. As a result, they quickly get frustrated and then give up.

One of the best ways to teach kids a skill is to use phonograms. It helps them see that spelling is easier than they thought it would be.

But what is a phonogram?

A phonogram is a combination of letters or a single letter that represents a sound. Take the phonogram OY as an example which has a pronunciation of /oi/ just as in ‘toy.’

Use a phonogram to represent every sound in a word. When your student learns about phonograms and the sounds they are representing, spelling or reading a word will be easier. By determining that at the end of a short-vowel word with the spelling of DGE sounds like /j/, he or she can easily read and spell the word ‘bridge.’

Multisensory Instruction is Important

Multisensory learning is about using sound, sight, and touch to learn new info. After all, kids quickly learn new stuff when they are using all of their senses. Helping children see a concept, do it and hear about it, they can quickly learn and retain all sorts of new info.

Also Read: Multisensory Teaching for Reading and Spelling

Take one multisensory spelling lesson. A child can see and hear a spelling rule demonstration, see a new word get spelled, try it out himself, and say the sounds of this new word while he writes it on paper, he or she makes use of multiple pathways to the brain.

Teach One Concept at a Time

Don’t dump a lot of information into your student. It is hard for a child’s memory to attend to a bunch of new information at one time. Be sure to only teach a new concept one at a time. It will help your student absorb all the information with his or her short-term memory. This way, he or she can store more skills and concepts easily in long-term memory.

Teach them Reliable Rules

When a child knows some trustworthy spelling rules like understanding when to use the letters C and K, he or she can spell words like automatic or kitchen easier. These reliable spelling rules will provide your student with the guidelines he or she needs to make the right choices.

Prioritize Review

Make spelling words and facts stick better to your student with the help of consistent review. To help the child master something, he or she has to do it more than twice. After all, it takes practice and time for full mastery.

Be sure to make review fun for the child. You can use flashcards, letters tiles, and dictation. Try to mix different techniques to make sure that your student will be able to remember everything that you’re teaching him or her.

Teach Spelling and Reading Separately

When it comes to teaching a child, you might think that lessons with combined spelling and reading are better. These two may be similar, but each one will require different schedules and teaching techniques.


For most kids, teaching them separately with spelling and reading is more effective than doing both at the same time. Reading is after all, easier than spelling.