Somewhere along the line of my homeschool journey I have acquired a few stragglers. Like the ones who lag behind on a walk because they saw something interesting, I have a few children who are lagging behind in their lessons because it seems anything is more interesting to them than school. The arbitrary line of “normal” seems to mock me these days. My kids are either ahead of the curve or behind, not one seems to fit the box they are supposed to fit for their age.
I carry the weight, the ones who are behind cause me to question where I have gone wrong and what I can do to help them succeed. Having a child who is struggling can be both one of the most frustrating and discouraging challenges we face. The question is, what do we do about it? If this is you today, I want to give you some practical steps to target these learning gaps and find strategies to help your kids overcome them.
5 steps to overcoming learning gaps in your homeschool
1. Identify the gaps
Often we are aware that our kids aren’t getting it. We can see the wall but we aren’t sure exactly where it is stemming from. Unfortunately, we cannot create a strategy to help our kids until we know the root cause of their challenges. For me, one of the easiest ways to do this is with testing either through narration or quizzing. Having our kids explain to us what they know and why is where we can zone in on where they are struggling.
If this seems overwhelming to you, or like finding a needle in a haystack, I have a homeschool mom hack! The fastest way to find learning gaps is through Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is an educational app/game for kids, one of the only ones that I have stuck with in our homeschool journey. It begins with a placement test to find where your child is at with their reading/math skills and then placing your child exactly where they need to be for targeted help where they are struggling. For me, this does the testing thing but in a matter of about 15 minutes AND it then gives me the tools I can use to help them grow in these areas. Check out the free 1 month trial of Reading Eggs (no CC required) and try it with the whole fam.
2. Come up with a strategy
Once you know where your child is struggling or what they are missing, you have to come up with a strategy of how you are going to approach this. There are lots of different ideas that may or may not apply to you so I have put together a list of some of the things we have tried to help you brainstorm what might work for you:
– change your curriculum
– change your teaching method (try something hands on to get it to click)
– make it fun
– go back to build the foundation (don’t keep pushing them forward)
– help your child take ownership of their struggles and come up with a strategy together
– teach your child time management skills
– utilize rewards/consequences to help motivate your child
3. Be consistent
Once you have a plan of action in place you have to commit to it. Some of the learning gaps we have faced are simply from me (or my kids) avoiding what is difficult. The more committed I can be to addressing the weak spots, the faster we can close those gaps. Give yourself more time to work with your child in this area and make it a priority.
If you don’t have the time or attention or energy to give to this area, find something that they can do independently. We have relied heavily on Reading Eggs and Mathseeds to help us be consistent with math and reading struggles simply because I am too busy to sit down and work with my children more than I am already doing. This works great for a few reasons: first of all they enjoy the lessons and it doesn’t feel like school and secondly it is something that they can do every day and is very easy to be consistent with.
4. Eliminate distractions
Depending on the severity of the learning gap, it might be worth zeroing in your focus and letting go of some of the other stuff. There have been whole seasons of my kids’ lives that I have stopped our formal school and instead just focused on one particular thing in multiple different ways. Having someone else teach it differently than I do, being more hands on, approaching the lesson from different angles and different learning styles. We give ourselves the time and brain power we need to tackle the challenge we are facing.
The struggle we as homeschoolers often face is the fear that if we stop moving forward they will develop more gaps in other areas. We keep pushing our kids forward hoping that these problem areas will iron themselves out over time. And though sometimes that does happen (sometimes the challenge is just development and it eventually clicks) a lot of times it does not. Learning is like building blocks, the core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic build on one another and one gap can derail everything.
It is worth taking the time to address this, to close the gap. Your homeschool year will run so much more smoothly and your child will have more self-confidence if you do!
5. Start today
Go back a grade in a subject, download an audio book for them to follow along with, try a remedial program, research a new curriculum, etc. If you are sitting there identifying with this post then start right now. The longer you wait to address these things the further behind your child becomes. They lose their confidence in their ability to do their school and it begins to effect your other subjects as well.
The tendency is to push our kids, to put the pressure on them. But if we can just be intentional and focused and consistent, we will see improvement. Trust your instincts, you know your child the best and can come up with some creative ways to move past this. And if you feel lost, bring your husband and kids in on the discussion, ask them what they think! Sometimes a different perspective helps us see an angle we hadn’t considered and the more we can include our kids on the discussion, the more ownership they will take.
You can do this!
Closing learning gaps with Reading Eggs
Reading Eggs has been my go to remedial program to close math and reading and spelling learning gaps in my kids for at least 3 years. It is easy, fast, can be added to your homeschool day, and they are offering a free 1 month trial of both Reading Eggs and Mathseeds (no CC required) for a limited time only. You can try it for yourself and see how it works for your kids (toddler to middle school).
What do you think? Comment below!
How do you close learning gaps in your homeschool? Post below!