Understand Learning Struggles

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  • By second grade, teachers can expect students to maintain focus for 20-30 minute stretches of time, even for topics that may hold little interest for them. Some students might get fidgety when they lose focus, while others might appear attentive even if their mind is wandering. While all students can lose focus on occasion, understanding which students regularly struggle to sustain attention (no matter how hard they try) can benefit both teachers and students. Quite simply, students who are not paying attention are not learning. Unaddressed attention difficulties can lead to gaps in knowledge and declining performance. 

    understand attention
  • Frequent breaks and reduced distractions are key for helping students with attention difficulties. Consider having your students who might get easily distracted sit near the front of the room where you can help them if they start to fidget. By middle school, students should have the self-awareness to recognize when their attention is waning. Having a “signal” to allow them to go for a water or bathroom break might be appropriate. Incorporating quick stretch breaks every 20 minutes can help students of all ages (and teachers) sustain their focus for learning.

    get attention strategies
  • Unaddressed attention difficulties can lead to gaps in knowledge and declining self-confidence. By supporting attention issues early, students will have better behavior and academic performance. Learning to recognize and self-manage attention lapses will be a critical life skill.

    get started
  • If you discover that a student is consistently spending excessive time on homework, it is important to understand why. The most common reasons students take too long on homework is that they struggle to maintain focus (weaker attention), forget what they learned in class (weaker memory), or work at a slower pace than their peers (slower processing speed). While you might notice some of these struggles in the classroom, they might be far more pronounced during homework time when students do not have the same structured environment to keep them on task and cannot rely on teachers or classmates for support.

    understand efficiency
  • Given the variety of factors that can affect homework efficiency, you might need to better understand if your student is struggling with focus, memory or pacing to provide the needed supports. Still, there are strategies that can help all students. Encourage students to have a structured homework routine with an organized desk space, free of distractions. Teach students to space out their studying over days, rather than cramming. Using proven-effective study strategies such as retrieval practice, rather than re-reading their notes, also will be important.

    get homework strategies
  • When students have a clear, organized approach to studying they are likely to be more efficient, have greater self-confidence, and, ultimately, greater academic success. Study skills are increasingly important as students progress to higher grades and homework demands increase. Helping students discover the study habits that will be most effective for them is sure to make them more successful (and happier) throughout their academic career.

    get started
  • While every student resists doing homework on occasion, a pattern of sloppy or unfinished homework needs to be addressed. If homework performance is inconsistent, your student might be having difficulties with executive functions.

    Students with weaker executive functions might need extra support getting started on homework, following multi-step instructions, and completing multiple assignments to the best of their ability. In the structured environment of the classroom, these difficulties might not be as evident. However, when students are tired after a long day of school and are expected to work unsupervised, they might struggle.

    understand incomplete homework
  • Teachers can provide homework support even though they are not at home. Teachers can make sure students leave school with the books they need and clarity on their assignments. This might mean creating a daily checklist or using a planner with homework assignments that students check off as they pack up their backpack at the end of the day. Having a homework schedule with the estimated amount of time to be spent by assignment also can help. If sloppy work is the primary concern, students might need explicit instruction on how to check work.

    get homework strategies
  • In the short-term, a student’s grades will suffer if they do not complete their homework. Over time, poor homework performance can affect students’ learning and self-esteem. Poor homework habits can be hard to break. The sooner your students learn to manage the demands of homework, even if they struggle with executive functions, the better prepared they will be for real life situations.

    get started
  • By second grade, students should be able to follow multi-step directions independently: “clean up your desk, get your lunch and your coat, and line up.” They should be able to follow along as you read a paragraph to the class and identify the main idea, or read and follow the written instructions you provide.

    If a student is trying to follow directions but consistently misses a step or two, and you have ruled out hearing or vision problems, they might be struggling with executive functions or auditory processing.

    understand your student
  • While each student will benefit from strategies targeted to their age and specific needs, you can start by providing students with instructions both verbally and in written form to make sure they can follow along and reference back to them as needed. Providing information in chunks, rather than giving information all at once, will assure understanding. Have students who have trouble with instructions sit closer to the front of the room so you can spot check regularly for understanding.

    see more strategies
  • Since most teaching is done via lecture, and directions are usually given verbally, children with trouble listening and following directions might have difficulty learning in class and properly completing homework assignments. They may also underperform on tests because they do not follow the instructions. Listening difficulties can go undetected in bright students because their strong reasoning skills enable them to “figure out” what they did not hear or read.

    get started
  • Memory is not a single skill. There is working memory which is your ability to remember information for a few seconds, long enough to apply it. There is also long-term memory for words (verbal memory) and symbols and images (visual memory).

    Students might have a strength in one type of memory and difficulty with another. While it might appear that students are not listening or trying, it could be that they simply cannot remember what they read, saw or heard. When you can help students understand there are different types of memory and where they are stronger or weaker, they will be able to learn and study much more efficiently.  For bright and hard-working students it can reduce anxiety when they recognize why some studying takes longer.

    understand your memory
  • The memorization strategies you teach students will depend on their specific relative strengths and needs. Students with weaker working memory will benefit from having calculators, formulas and other reference materials readily available when solving problems or writing a paper. Students with weaker verbal memory will do better if they use pictures and sound to reinforce their learning, while students with weaker visual memory will want to verbalize diagrams, charts and images to help their recall. All students will benefit from spacing out their studying and using retrieval practice.

    get memory strategies
  • Every student benefits from a better understanding of their memory skills, so they can use the strategies which will make them most efficient. Better memory results in better grades, more enthusiastic learning, and more time for sleep and extracurriculars.

    get started
  • By middle school, students should be capable of basic time management and organizational skills. Even the brightest students will struggle in school without good organizational skills. In most cases, difficulties with organization are rooted in weaker attention or working memory.

    understand organization skills
  • All students will benefit from coaching on how to manage their time, organize their lockers, and plan for longer projects. Some students will easily adopt strategies while others will need a lot more support. Weaker executive functions can make it challenging for some students to listen, remember, and follow through while juggling all the varying demands on their attention. Be patient with these students, provide gentle reminders, and enlist parents in supporting these students at home as well.

    get organization strategies
  • Even the brightest students who struggle with organization skills might have difficulty completing assignments on time or doing high quality work. Coaching students on how to organize their time and their possessions will enable them to do a better job arriving to class on time and tackling long-term assignments. These improvements should result in spending less time on homework, less stress, and better grades.

    get started
  • Self-monitoring skills are critical for learning. Students who self-monitor are less likely to make careless errors and will not under or over invest in studying. While elementary school students will need help with self-monitoring, by late middle or high school, students can be expected to be able to self-monitor. Students with weaker executive functions, regardless of how bright they are, might need more time and support to develop these skills.

    understand self-monitoring
  • The best approach to improve self-monitoring is to identify where the student is having the biggest difficulty. If the concern is talking in class or misbehaving, consider teaching them to take a pause. If the student is asking too many questions in class, teach them how to save up their questions. If homework has scattered errors, teach explicit strategies of how to check their work under different scenarios.

    get self-monitoring strategies
  • Students who self-monitor tend to be more effective and efficient learners. They find it easier to complete assignments to the best of their ability, are more likely to enjoy school, and often find it easier to make friends. Generally speaking, the earlier these skills are learned, the happier your students will be.

    get started

Focus & Attention

  • By second grade, teachers can expect students to maintain focus for 20-30 minute stretches of time, even for topics that may hold little interest for them. Some students might get fidgety when they lose focus, while others might appear attentive even if their mind is wandering. While all students can lose focus on occasion, understanding which students regularly struggle to sustain attention (no matter how hard they try) can benefit both teachers and students. Quite simply, students who are not paying attention are not learning. Unaddressed attention difficulties can lead to gaps in knowledge and declining performance. 

    understand attention
    Untitled-1
  • Frequent breaks and reduced distractions are key for helping students with attention difficulties. Consider having your students who might get easily distracted sit near the front of the room where you can help them if they start to fidget. By middle school, students should have the self-awareness to recognize when their attention is waning. Having a “signal” to allow them to go for a water or bathroom break might be appropriate. Incorporating quick stretch breaks every 20 minutes can help students of all ages (and teachers) sustain their focus for learning.

    get attention strategies
    Untitled-2
  • Unaddressed attention difficulties can lead to gaps in knowledge and declining self-confidence. By supporting attention issues early, students will have better behavior and academic performance. Learning to recognize and self-manage attention lapses will be a critical life skill.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Homework Efficiency

  • If you discover that a student is consistently spending excessive time on homework, it is important to understand why. The most common reasons students take too long on homework is that they struggle to maintain focus (weaker attention), forget what they learned in class (weaker memory), or work at a slower pace than their peers (slower processing speed). While you might notice some of these struggles in the classroom, they might be far more pronounced during homework time when students do not have the same structured environment to keep them on task and cannot rely on teachers or classmates for support.

    understand efficiency
    Untitled-1
  • Given the variety of factors that can affect homework efficiency, you might need to better understand if your student is struggling with focus, memory or pacing to provide the needed supports. Still, there are strategies that can help all students. Encourage students to have a structured homework routine with an organized desk space, free of distractions. Teach students to space out their studying over days, rather than cramming. Using proven-effective study strategies such as retrieval practice, rather than re-reading their notes, also will be important.

    get homework strategies
    Untitled-2
  • When students have a clear, organized approach to studying they are likely to be more efficient, have greater self-confidence, and, ultimately, greater academic success. Study skills are increasingly important as students progress to higher grades and homework demands increase. Helping students discover the study habits that will be most effective for them is sure to make them more successful (and happier) throughout their academic career.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Incomplete Homework

  • While every student resists doing homework on occasion, a pattern of sloppy or unfinished homework needs to be addressed. If homework performance is inconsistent, your student might be having difficulties with executive functions.

    Students with weaker executive functions might need extra support getting started on homework, following multi-step instructions, and completing multiple assignments to the best of their ability. In the structured environment of the classroom, these difficulties might not be as evident. However, when students are tired after a long day of school and are expected to work unsupervised, they might struggle.

    understand incomplete homework
    Untitled-1
  • Teachers can provide homework support even though they are not at home. Teachers can make sure students leave school with the books they need and clarity on their assignments. This might mean creating a daily checklist or using a planner with homework assignments that students check off as they pack up their backpack at the end of the day. Having a homework schedule with the estimated amount of time to be spent by assignment also can help. If sloppy work is the primary concern, students might need explicit instruction on how to check work.

    get homework strategies
    Untitled-2
  • In the short-term, a student’s grades will suffer if they do not complete their homework. Over time, poor homework performance can affect students’ learning and self-esteem. Poor homework habits can be hard to break. The sooner your students learn to manage the demands of homework, even if they struggle with executive functions, the better prepared they will be for real life situations.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Listening & Following Directions

  • By second grade, students should be able to follow multi-step directions independently: “clean up your desk, get your lunch and your coat, and line up.” They should be able to follow along as you read a paragraph to the class and identify the main idea, or read and follow the written instructions you provide.

    If a student is trying to follow directions but consistently misses a step or two, and you have ruled out hearing or vision problems, they might be struggling with executive functions or auditory processing.

    understand your student
    Untitled-1
  • While each student will benefit from strategies targeted to their age and specific needs, you can start by providing students with instructions both verbally and in written form to make sure they can follow along and reference back to them as needed. Providing information in chunks, rather than giving information all at once, will assure understanding. Have students who have trouble with instructions sit closer to the front of the room so you can spot check regularly for understanding.

    see more strategies
    Untitled-2
  • Since most teaching is done via lecture, and directions are usually given verbally, children with trouble listening and following directions might have difficulty learning in class and properly completing homework assignments. They may also underperform on tests because they do not follow the instructions. Listening difficulties can go undetected in bright students because their strong reasoning skills enable them to “figure out” what they did not hear or read.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Memory

  • Memory is not a single skill. There is working memory which is your ability to remember information for a few seconds, long enough to apply it. There is also long-term memory for words (verbal memory) and symbols and images (visual memory).

    Students might have a strength in one type of memory and difficulty with another. While it might appear that students are not listening or trying, it could be that they simply cannot remember what they read, saw or heard. When you can help students understand there are different types of memory and where they are stronger or weaker, they will be able to learn and study much more efficiently.  For bright and hard-working students it can reduce anxiety when they recognize why some studying takes longer.

    understand your memory
    Untitled-1
  • The memorization strategies you teach students will depend on their specific relative strengths and needs. Students with weaker working memory will benefit from having calculators, formulas and other reference materials readily available when solving problems or writing a paper. Students with weaker verbal memory will do better if they use pictures and sound to reinforce their learning, while students with weaker visual memory will want to verbalize diagrams, charts and images to help their recall. All students will benefit from spacing out their studying and using retrieval practice.

    get memory strategies
    Untitled-2
  • Every student benefits from a better understanding of their memory skills, so they can use the strategies which will make them most efficient. Better memory results in better grades, more enthusiastic learning, and more time for sleep and extracurriculars.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Organization Skills

  • By middle school, students should be capable of basic time management and organizational skills. Even the brightest students will struggle in school without good organizational skills. In most cases, difficulties with organization are rooted in weaker attention or working memory.

    understand organization skills
    Untitled-1
  • All students will benefit from coaching on how to manage their time, organize their lockers, and plan for longer projects. Some students will easily adopt strategies while others will need a lot more support. Weaker executive functions can make it challenging for some students to listen, remember, and follow through while juggling all the varying demands on their attention. Be patient with these students, provide gentle reminders, and enlist parents in supporting these students at home as well.

    get organization strategies
    Untitled-2
  • Even the brightest students who struggle with organization skills might have difficulty completing assignments on time or doing high quality work. Coaching students on how to organize their time and their possessions will enable them to do a better job arriving to class on time and tackling long-term assignments. These improvements should result in spending less time on homework, less stress, and better grades.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Self-Monitoring

  • Self-monitoring skills are critical for learning. Students who self-monitor are less likely to make careless errors and will not under or over invest in studying. While elementary school students will need help with self-monitoring, by late middle or high school, students can be expected to be able to self-monitor. Students with weaker executive functions, regardless of how bright they are, might need more time and support to develop these skills.

    understand self-monitoring
    summary profile
  • The best approach to improve self-monitoring is to identify where the student is having the biggest difficulty. If the concern is talking in class or misbehaving, consider teaching them to take a pause. If the student is asking too many questions in class, teach them how to save up their questions. If homework has scattered errors, teach explicit strategies of how to check their work under different scenarios.

    get self-monitoring strategies
    Untitled-2
  • Students who self-monitor tend to be more effective and efficient learners. They find it easier to complete assignments to the best of their ability, are more likely to enjoy school, and often find it easier to make friends. Generally speaking, the earlier these skills are learned, the happier your students will be.

    get started
    Untitled-3

Focus & Attention

Understanding Attention

By second grade, teachers can expect students to maintain focus for 20-30 minute stretches of time, even for topics that may hold little interest for them. Some students might get fidgety when they lose focus, while others might appear attentive even if their mind is wandering. While all students can lose focus on occasion, understanding which students regularly struggle to sustain attention (no matter how hard they try) can benefit both teachers and students. Quite simply, students who are not paying attention are not learning. Unaddressed attention difficulties can lead to gaps in knowledge and declining performance. 

understand attention
Untitled-1
Attention Strategies

Frequent breaks and reduced distractions are key for helping students with attention difficulties. Consider having your students who might get easily distracted sit near the front of the room where you can help them if they start to fidget. By middle school, students should have the self-awareness to recognize when their attention is waning. Having a “signal” to allow them to go for a water or bathroom break might be appropriate. Incorporating quick stretch breaks every 20 minutes can help students of all ages (and teachers) sustain their focus for learning.

get attention strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

Unaddressed attention difficulties can lead to gaps in knowledge and declining self-confidence. By supporting attention issues early, students will have better behavior and academic performance. Learning to recognize and self-manage attention lapses will be a critical life skill.

get started
Untitled-3

Homework Efficiency

Understanding Homework Efficiency

If you discover that a student is consistently spending excessive time on homework, it is important to understand why. The most common reasons students take too long on homework is that they struggle to maintain focus (weaker attention), forget what they learned in class (weaker memory), or work at a slower pace than their peers (slower processing speed). While you might notice some of these struggles in the classroom, they might be far more pronounced during homework time when students do not have the same structured environment to keep them on task and cannot rely on teachers or classmates for support.

understand efficiency
Untitled-1
Homework Strategies

Given the variety of factors that can affect homework efficiency, you might need to better understand if your student is struggling with focus, memory or pacing to provide the needed supports. Still, there are strategies that can help all students. Encourage students to have a structured homework routine with an organized desk space, free of distractions. Teach students to space out their studying over days, rather than cramming. Using proven-effective study strategies such as retrieval practice, rather than re-reading their notes, also will be important.

get homework strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

When students have a clear, organized approach to studying they are likely to be more efficient, have greater self-confidence, and, ultimately, greater academic success. Study skills are increasingly important as students progress to higher grades and homework demands increase. Helping students discover the study habits that will be most effective for them is sure to make them more successful (and happier) throughout their academic career.

get started
Untitled-3

Incomplete Homework

Incomplete Homework

While every student resists doing homework on occasion, a pattern of sloppy or unfinished homework needs to be addressed. If homework performance is inconsistent, your student might be having difficulties with executive functions.

Students with weaker executive functions might need extra support getting started on homework, following multi-step instructions, and completing multiple assignments to the best of their ability. In the structured environment of the classroom, these difficulties might not be as evident. However, when students are tired after a long day of school and are expected to work unsupervised, they might struggle.

understand incomplete homework
Untitled-1
Homework Strategies

Teachers can provide homework support even though they are not at home. Teachers can make sure students leave school with the books they need and clarity on their assignments. This might mean creating a daily checklist or using a planner with homework assignments that students check off as they pack up their backpack at the end of the day. Having a homework schedule with the estimated amount of time to be spent by assignment also can help. If sloppy work is the primary concern, students might need explicit instruction on how to check work.

get homework strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

In the short-term, a student’s grades will suffer if they do not complete their homework. Over time, poor homework performance can affect students’ learning and self-esteem. Poor homework habits can be hard to break. The sooner your students learn to manage the demands of homework, even if they struggle with executive functions, the better prepared they will be for real life situations.

get started
Untitled-3

Listening & Following Directions

Listening & Following Directions

By second grade, students should be able to follow multi-step directions independently: “clean up your desk, get your lunch and your coat, and line up.” They should be able to follow along as you read a paragraph to the class and identify the main idea, or read and follow the written instructions you provide.

If a student is trying to follow directions but consistently misses a step or two, and you have ruled out hearing or vision problems, they might be struggling with executive functions or auditory processing.

understand your student
Untitled-1
Strategies for Following Directions

While each student will benefit from strategies targeted to their age and specific needs, you can start by providing students with instructions both verbally and in written form to make sure they can follow along and reference back to them as needed. Providing information in chunks, rather than giving information all at once, will assure understanding. Have students who have trouble with instructions sit closer to the front of the room so you can spot check regularly for understanding.

see more strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

Since most teaching is done via lecture, and directions are usually given verbally, children with trouble listening and following directions might have difficulty learning in class and properly completing homework assignments. They may also underperform on tests because they do not follow the instructions. Listening difficulties can go undetected in bright students because their strong reasoning skills enable them to “figure out” what they did not hear or read.

get started
Untitled-3

Memory

Understanding Memory

Memory is not a single skill. There is working memory which is your ability to remember information for a few seconds, long enough to apply it. There is also long-term memory for words (verbal memory) and symbols and images (visual memory).

Students might have a strength in one type of memory and difficulty with another. While it might appear that students are not listening or trying, it could be that they simply cannot remember what they read, saw or heard. When you can help students understand there are different types of memory and where they are stronger or weaker, they will be able to learn and study much more efficiently.  For bright and hard-working students it can reduce anxiety when they recognize why some studying takes longer.

understand your memory
Untitled-1
Memory Strategies

The memorization strategies you teach students will depend on their specific relative strengths and needs. Students with weaker working memory will benefit from having calculators, formulas and other reference materials readily available when solving problems or writing a paper. Students with weaker verbal memory will do better if they use pictures and sound to reinforce their learning, while students with weaker visual memory will want to verbalize diagrams, charts and images to help their recall. All students will benefit from spacing out their studying and using retrieval practice.

get memory strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

Every student benefits from a better understanding of their memory skills, so they can use the strategies which will make them most efficient. Better memory results in better grades, more enthusiastic learning, and more time for sleep and extracurriculars.

get started
Untitled-3

Organization Skills

Understanding Organization Skills

By middle school, students should be capable of basic time management and organizational skills. Even the brightest students will struggle in school without good organizational skills. In most cases, difficulties with organization are rooted in weaker attention or working memory.

understand organization skills
Untitled-1
Organization Strategies

All students will benefit from coaching on how to manage their time, organize their lockers, and plan for longer projects. Some students will easily adopt strategies while others will need a lot more support. Weaker executive functions can make it challenging for some students to listen, remember, and follow through while juggling all the varying demands on their attention. Be patient with these students, provide gentle reminders, and enlist parents in supporting these students at home as well.

get organization strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

Even the brightest students who struggle with organization skills might have difficulty completing assignments on time or doing high quality work. Coaching students on how to organize their time and their possessions will enable them to do a better job arriving to class on time and tackling long-term assignments. These improvements should result in spending less time on homework, less stress, and better grades.

get started
Untitled-3

Self-Monitoring

Understanding Self-Monitoring Skills

Self-monitoring skills are critical for learning. Students who self-monitor are less likely to make careless errors and will not under or over invest in studying. While elementary school students will need help with self-monitoring, by late middle or high school, students can be expected to be able to self-monitor. Students with weaker executive functions, regardless of how bright they are, might need more time and support to develop these skills.

understand self-monitoring
summary profile
Self-Monitoring Strategies

The best approach to improve self-monitoring is to identify where the student is having the biggest difficulty. If the concern is talking in class or misbehaving, consider teaching them to take a pause. If the student is asking too many questions in class, teach them how to save up their questions. If homework has scattered errors, teach explicit strategies of how to check their work under different scenarios.

get self-monitoring strategies
Untitled-2
Why Act Now

Students who self-monitor tend to be more effective and efficient learners. They find it easier to complete assignments to the best of their ability, are more likely to enjoy school, and often find it easier to make friends. Generally speaking, the earlier these skills are learned, the happier your students will be.

get started
Untitled-3

Read the
research about...

Focus & Attention

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Read the
research about...

Homework Efficiency

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Read the
research about...

Incomplete Homework

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Read the
research about...

Listening & Following Directions

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Read the
research about...

Memory

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Read the
research about...

Organization Skills

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Read the
research about...

Self-Monitoring

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