Teacher Resources

Strategies for Supporting Struggling Students



Ching our resilience and perseverance. Overcoming obstacles is crucial for students’ growth when facing challenges in school. As educators, our instinct may be to provide quick answers, given the demands of a classroom.

Yet, empowering struggling students with effective teaching strategies fosters independence and builds essential skills. Here are ten practical strategies to support and engage these students, helping them develop persistence and succeed.

Fight the Urge to Tell Students the Answer

As mentioned previously, providing struggling students with the answers can be tempting instead of equipping them with the necessary tools to discover solutions on their own. However, as educators, it is imperative to resist this urge entirely. Our responsibility is to teach students effectively, imparting skills they can carry forward throughout their lives.

This requires investing the time and effort to empower them rather than opting for quick solutions for efficiency with other students.

Give Students Time to Think of the Answer

Research indicates that, on average, teachers typically wait only one second or less between posing a question and expecting a student to respond. Allowing students a few additional seconds to contemplate their answers makes them more likely to actively participate and offer more detailed elaborations.

Allow Student to Explain Their Answers

How often have you encountered a student repeatedly responding with “I don’t know” when asked a question? Encourage students to provide an answer, even if they are uncertain. Teach them how to articulate the reasoning behind their answer. Understanding their thought process enables you to pinpoint where misunderstandings may lie. Make it a requirement for all students to formulate an answer and explain their reasoning.

Write Down All Directions

Struggling students frequently need help with attention and memory retention. Providing oral directions alone may result in a complete recall, leading to clarity about what to do next. To mitigate this, ensure all instructions are written clearly on the board. This practice eliminates excuses and provides a constant reference for students, promoting clarity and independence in following tasks.

Teach Perseverance

Emphasizing the importance of continuous effort encourages students to persevere through challenges. When stuck on a question, teach them to employ various strategies until they find a solution. A practical approach is to display a list of tips and strategies prominently in the classroom, ideally on a wall visible from all desks. This visual reminder supports students in developing problem-solving skills and fosters a resilient attitude toward learning.

Teach Time Management Skills

Struggling students often find managing their time and daily tasks challenging, feeling overwhelmed by the workload. To help them develop practical time management skills, guide students to write down their entire daily schedule. Then, have them estimate the time required for each listed Task.

Review and discuss the schedule together, emphasizing how to allocate appropriate time for each activity. This exercise fosters a sense of ownership in their learning and underscores the importance of managing time effectively to prevent academic struggles.

Take it One Task at a Time.

Breaking down concepts into smaller, manageable parts can greatly aid struggling students in understanding better. This approach is efficient for groups with multiple struggling students. For instance, during small group activities, guide them to tackle one question at a time instead of presenting a list of 10 questions for them to answer collectively.

After each question, regroup to discuss before moving on to the next. This method promotes focused learning, ensures comprehension, and supports student collaborative problem-solving.

Ask Questions that Require Students to Think

Encourage struggling students to enhance their independent thinking skills by posing thought-provoking questions that require critical thinking. Teach them to make reasoned inferences rather than provide immediate, reflexive responses. By prompting them to consider their answers carefully, students can develop the ability to analyze problems and generate thoughtful solutions more effectively over time.

Yield the Chronic Hand Raisers

Consider implementing strategies to promote independence to address the frequent need for help among struggling students. Some teachers use sticky notes or red and green flip cards to signal when students need assistance. Alternatively, setting limits on the number of questions students can ask per lesson encourages them to problem-solve independently before seeking help. These approaches help foster self-reliance and reduce dependency on constant teacher intervention.

Give Students Encouragement

Effective teachers inspire and motivate students by offering praise and encouragement, fostering a belief in their abilities to succeed. They affirm students’ potential and emphasize that they can overcome challenges and achieve their goals with determination. By embodying this supportive role, teachers empower students to believe in themselves and strive for excellence.

Frequently Asked Question

Why are teaching strategies important for struggling students?

Teaching strategies provide targeted support and guidance tailored to the unique needs of struggling students. They help create a supportive learning environment that fosters growth and success.

How can I encourage struggling students to participate more actively in class?

Engage struggling students using interactive teaching methods such as hands-on activities, group discussions, and role-playing. These methods encourage active participation and build confidence.

What role does positive reinforcement play in teaching struggling students?

Positive reinforcement, such as praise and encouragement, boosts struggling students’ confidence and motivation. It reinforces desired behaviors and encourages continued effort.

How can I help struggling students improve their comprehension and retention of material?

To enhance comprehension and retention, use techniques like graphic organizers, summarization strategies, and frequent checks for understanding. These tools help struggling students process information effectively.

What should I do if a struggling student becomes frustrated or disengaged?

Offer support by breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps and providing opportunities for reflection and self-assessment. Encourage open communication and provide reassurance.

How can I assist struggling students in developing critical thinking skills?

Pose thought-provoking questions that require reasoning and inference. Please encourage students to explore multiple perspectives and justify their answers with evidence.


Effective teaching strategies are crucial in supporting struggling students on their educational journey. By implementing differentiated instruction, fostering active participation through interactive learning techniques, and promoting positive reinforcement, educators can create a nurturing environment that empowers students to overcome challenges and achieve academic success.

Encouraging critical thinking, teaching time management skills, and reducing dependence on constant assistance further equip students with essential tools for independent learning and problem-solving. By collaborating closely with parents and caregivers, educators can ensure a holistic approach to supporting struggling students, ultimately fostering their confidence, resilience, and lifelong learning skills.

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