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Teaching Children With Varying Learning Abilities

Teaching Children With Varying Learning Abilities | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I started teaching children and youth ten years ago. Most of these children are diagnosed with learning difficulties, and I am teaching them in a class of four or five students. My students have different learning abilities even though they are all enrolled in the same class of a year level. These students have a session with me twice-a-week, one hour per session, which I feel is not enough to help them catch up with their academic lessons.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Xue L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

What’s Important?

From handling these type of children, I had learned a lot of strategies in teaching. I also believe in the uniqueness in terms of how a child learns and that like all of us, they have different learning styles. I always try to make my sessions fun and interesting for my students as I do not want to bore them, I do not want my students to have a bad struggle, I want them to have a good struggle. In addition, I do not want my students to tread water with their academic lessons. There must be a good balance in the class between children who absorb lesson easily and students having difficulty comprehending the lesson.

Also Read: Important Personal Qualities of a Teacher Which Influence Students’ Learning


Here are the strategies and approaches which I will share with you that I am using when teaching a class of children with varying learning abilities.

After discussing the day's topic or lesson, I would give a more challenging worksheet for students who learns faster and performs well in the class. For those students who are having difficulty with the lesson (e.g. pronoun) the following strategies could be used:

  • Know the student's interest and use them in their worksheets or in class discussion. For example, if the student is interested in superhero characters, we may use them in our pronoun lesson (e.g. Superman is good. He is good. etc.)
  • Pair the weak student with a strong student.
  • If the worksheet is a multiple choice type, we could lessen the choices given to the weak students, until the student gained confidence or mastery of the lesson.
  • If the child has difficulty in comprehending some terms, we may modify the term until the child understands them.
  • If the child has low self-esteem, do not push the child to answer questions which we think he does not know the answer.
  • If the weak student answers the question correctly, praise the child. Provide encouragement as needed.
  • If the weak student happens to score well, praise him/her.
  • If the weak student scored low, do not announce his score, rather give him positive words.

Also Read: The Most Common Problems Students in Japan Face When Learning English

For strong students:

  • Provide a more challenging worksheet for them.
  • Pair them with weak students.
  • If peer tutoring is possible, assign them to help weak students.

As a teacher, I also consider the child's learning styles. I would personally assess the learning style of a child, then use the following strategy when teaching.

For visual learners:

  • Prepare visual aids/reminders for them to easily understand or remember the lesson (e.g. "change y to I and add es)
  • Make a colorful chart of the lesson (e.g. types of nouns - common noun and proper noun written in a circle. Draw an arrow under common noun and write in a circle the description of a common noun. Give examples under it, use arrow and circle.)
  • Highlight the terms using colored markers or write the terms in bold letters.

Also Read: Do TEFL teachers need a second language?

For auditory learners:

  • Use recorded lessons whenever possible.

For kinesthetic learners:

  • Prepare activities which require the student to move in the classroom. For example, draw rows and columns of rectangles on the floor, divide the students into groups, have the first member jump onto the first rectangle if he can tell the answer to a question.
  • Some students who are kinesthetic learners prefer to write the lessons on the notebook as they remember the lessons well while writing them down.

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There are many strategies we may use in helping each student. For me, finding the strategy suited for a student is the best strategy. Also, I believe that learning should be fun and enjoyable for both students and teachers!

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