Topic | How do I encourage a slow worker?

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  • danamaize

    I’m having quite a bit of trouble keeping my 10 year old boy on track – esp with math and writing. He is just so slow, and I feel like we could cover so much more material if I could get him to focus. He knows the material, he just works at a snail’s pace! We’ve been doing CM since last fall, but I have not picked up a copy of Laying Down the Rails yet – is that topic covered in the book? Any creative suggestions?


    Yes, Use of Time is covered in Laying Down the Rails (very well, I might add). You may not need any other recommendations, but some other ideas we have used are:

    Training in redeeming the time because it belongs to God and then asking what kind of minutes are these minutes? Math minutes? History minutes? Rest minutes?

    Really praying over curriculum decisions and making adjustments as God shows you the need.

    Helping the child learn to focus and finding tools that could help. For instance, our home is very active and so to help my son focus, he is in the midst of decorating a tri-fold board cut in half to put up in front of him during his independent work. (Cutting it in half helps me still be able to check on him from a distance 🙂 .)

    And, as Charlotte Mason emphasizes, making sure the lessons are short and relevant to the child. As schedule also helps; that helps the child visualize his day, i.e., no, he will not be sitting here doing math forever!



    Rachel White

    I, too have a slow worker. Part of it is his imagination gets out of control since he can turn ANYTHING into a character (like a talking water bottle) and socializing w/his sister. That being said, what has worked is the SCM schedule. When I print it out I give him his and he moves right along with it. He likes seeeing what e has to do and he likes having the freedom and responsibility of checking off the F box or the W box. Also, if he is still moving slowly I set a timer and when it goes off I remove the work and have him move on to the next subject. I require that he work on it during free time. He doesn’t like that. He realized that if he moved more steadily he might have extra time left over!


    Those ideas really help, thank you! I am going to try the tri-fold board idea, so he can more easily block out the distractions (the three younger ones, that is!) and stay focused. (He turns water bottles into characters, too.) Also, I was thinking about having him move on at a certain time rather than waiting until he’s finished, so that idea was reassuring and I’m going to try it. AND I’m going to get my hands on a copy of LDTR. Thanks so much for your input!


    Andrew is ‘distracted’ vs a slow worker and not sure what the issue might be. I have blogged on this topic (distraction) a lot because sometimes basic stuff is like pulling teeth! It helps me process to blog it. And I’ve read a lot on inconsistent kitty. We have used a ‘time timer’ to good use. On math for example, I’d set it to 5 minutes to start (or less) and expect to have Andrew work on math for that time. Cindy is 1000% correct on praying on curric.

    I blogged on a ‘blog’ here..on the Fence Posting blog which addresses this somewhat. I put what we do practically in this area. The time timer is explained here.

    I wrote a few more suggestions here.

    Here is a link to my CM posts…

    If the issue is ‘slow work’ vs. ‘attention’ then it might be a different ballgame. But for us it has really worked to minimize first the amount of time that said habit is required… and require success…then increase the amount of time. Just my 2 cents as a total CM newbie!



    I know a timer seems trite, but we’ve used them for about ten years and it does help the slowpoke! My eldest (18) thanked me for using the timer all those years. She’s been completely independent in her studies for several years, and getting ready to “graduate” from our home education adventure.


    Wanted to touch on the timer idea–we used Sonlight for quite some time and we had the opposite problem with one of my sons—he worked entirely TOO fast–I know part of the problem was that we had so much to cover that he felt he had to hurry to get it all done but in truth, he also wanted to go play. So, we used the timer for an opposite desired effect with him–he couldn’t move on to the next subject until the timer went off. This also had to do with distractions because he wanted to wander off to do what was going on around him. Yes, it seems trite but the timers can really work.

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