My daughter, Missy, is developmentally delayed. She learns differently than all of my others, even her twin brother. Over the years, I've discovered that she learns in fits and starts. She'll learn new things, whether academic or physical, and be "open" to learning for a while. Then she'll plateau for weeks at a time, not able to learn anything new, even struggling to remember what she had so recently learned. Then, seemingly without reason, it's like a switch turns and she's back to learning. I have begun calling these her "learning bursts".
During her academic plateau times, we simply review the basic things she knows. We cement them into her brain. She reads the same phonics stories and does the same type of math over and over, and gets enough wrong, or needs enough help, that I know her brain is "off". I continue in these times to read aloud rich literature and have her narrate. She continues copy work and other hands on projects. I continue having her sit in on lessons with siblings, even if she doesn't seem to be absorbing the information. Then, suddenly, she starts getting pages done super fast, without help and reads her stories easily. I know it's time to introduce new things.
During her most recent learning burst, I had her begin to do her math without the assistance of blocks. It had taken her over half of a school year to master the use of blocks. The last time I asked her to attempt problems without blocks she was unable to complete even the simplest of problems. It was simply to much for her brain to take in. This time, however, she easily accomplished it. She did page after page, (asking for more!), and scored 100%.
Today I introduced subtraction. I explained it and had her try without blocks. Best to skip a step, right? Well, that was too much, at least at first. So she completed her page using blocks and got 100%! We'll see what tomorrow brings. I love learning bursts!