Young children take more time to process information than older kids do. Parents and teachers have a tendency to speak too quickly for them, and they get confused easily. Remember Mr. Rogers? He spoke very slowly to children, which made it easier for them to follow what he was saying.
In general, the older a child is, the quicker he is at thinking. However, not all older children process information quickly, and that can make a huge difference in the classroom.
Many students who struggle in school are struggling because everything is moving too quickly for them. This does not mean they are not smart. It simply means they need extra time to think.
Here is something you can do to figure out whether this is a problem for your child. Think about Mr. Rogers and mimic his speech pattern with your child. See if this helps him to understand what you are asking him to do. You can also limit the number of instructions you give at one time.
For example, these instructions move too quickly and include too much information at one time: “Go to the kitchen and get the silverware for dinner. Don’t forget we will need a soup spoon tonight. And use the blue napkins when you set the table.”
It is better to divide this into shorter, slower (Mr. Rogers speed), separate statements. “Get the silverware for dinner.” (Pause) “We need soup spoons.” (Pause) “Use the blue napkins.”
Some children who think slowly never get a chance to answer a question before someone else answers it. This can happen at home with a brother or sister. It also happens in school. Parents and teachers have to deliberately structure the situation so that everyone gets a chance to speak. When I teach, I often say, “I’m going to ask a question. (Pause) I do not want anyone to answer. (Pause) Think about the answer. (Pause) Give me a thumbs-up if you know it.”
If you feel that slowing down when you speak helps your child, let her teacher know what you have discovered. Accommodations like this are simple to do and can make a big difference in school.