How to Work with Weak Learners

Q: Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh. In the grade O class there is a student that finds recognising zabr, zer and pesh very difficult. Can Moulana please advise what should be done with him? In the grade 2 class there is a student that cannot learn anything at all. It takes him very very long to learn and he keeps on forgetting whatever he learns. Can Moulana also advise what should be done with him? Jazakallah khair ahsanal jazaa

A: Muhtaram. Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu. I make dua that you be well.

Many a times in a maktab you have students of this nature who cannot learn and comprehend for some reason. We should try our best to still teach them even though they may be extremely weak. Their presence in the madrasah is better than being out in some other evil environment.

These weak children in our makaatib are actually a source of great blessing for us. The Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) says, “Innama tunsaruna wa turzaquna bidufaaikum” Allah Ta’ala’s help and sustenance descends on account of these weak children. Many a times, it is these weak children who later on in life become such stars of Islam that they will make our names shine in this world and the next.

The following are some ways we can adopt that may be beneficial for us to reach the child:

  1. Take out time every day and make special dua for him by taking his name.
  2. Visit his home and request his parents to assist in teaching him at home. If his parents are not in a position to teach him then asks some neighbour or anyone else in the community to help him.
  3. Give out some sadaqah every now and again, even if its a small amount, on his behalf requesting Allah Ta’ala to remove any blockages that may be hindering his progress.
  4. Try to allocate some special time out of maktab time to give him special attention.
  5. Show him lots of love and attention from your heart. This will help to make him to open up to you.
  6. After giving him his sabak in class, pair him up with a bright pupil who may help him learn his sabak.
  7. Always use encouraging words to lift his self-esteem. Never ever discourage him.

It is mentioned that Hadhrat Imaam Shafiee (RA) once sat with a student and explained one masalah to him 78 times until eventually he understood it. In this day and age, this is our challenge, to be able to work with such children.

May Allah Ta’ala make your task easy for you and crown your efforts with success. Aameen.

Q: Does the Ta’limi Board prefer us teaching the Yassarnal Qur-aan or the Towards reading the Quraan?

A: The Ta’limi Board (KZN) generally encourages the teaching of the Yassarnal Qur-aan. However it does not discourage anyone who is teaching the ‘Towards reading the Qur-aan’ or any other qaidah, provided the Mu’allim/ah has mastered the art of teaching it. If any mu’allim/ah is teaching it well and the children are coping with it, then there is no problem in teaching it. The main purpose of any qaidah/primer is to get a child into Qur-aan.

Q: Should the Qur-aan lessons be written on the board?

A: In grades one to four, Qaidah/Qur-aan lessons should be first written on the board. Pupils must first be taught from the board. Thereafter they should be made to read from the Qur-aan.

Q: Is it necessary for the teachers to write the lessons on the board for grades 5-7? 

A: Only one aayat or about five lines should be written on the board. Thereafter the rest of the sabak should be taught from the Qur-aan Shareef directly.

Q: Is it necessary to group the children for Qur-aan or is it okay to have them on individual lessons? 

A: It is extremely essential to group the children in each grade. In order to improve Qur-aan recitation, one will have to have all the children in one group.

QWhat if all the pupils cannot manage being in one group? At times some learners do not have the capability to all be in one group.

A: Ideal would be to have all the children in one group. However at times you may have a few or many weak learners in the class. In that case the class could be broken up into two groups. One with the fast learners and the other with the slow learners. However the goal must be to slowly wean off the slow learners and join them into the A group with the fast learners. 

Q: I have only one weak learner in my class. What should I do with him?

A: Such a child could be made to learn at his/her own pace. You do not have to keep him/her in the same group.

Q: I want to bring my grade 5 learners in a group but they are all in different sabaks. Some are in 5th para, some in 10th para, some in 20th para. What should I do in such a case? Can I bring them all to one level. 

A: There is no problem to bring learners ahead or putting them behind. However if you are going to put any learner behind, first inform the parents that you will be putting him/her back and the reason for doing so. Explain to them the need to read with tajweed and how this system will help their child. Many parents will understand after they are properly explained.

Q: At times parents complain that their child has the potential of moving ahead. They insist that we should push them forward rather than sticking to the sylaabus. What should we do in such a situation? 

A: It is best to ask someone senior person at your Madrasah to set up a parents meeting and discuss this issue with them. Explain to them that a structure for Madrasah ta’leem has been put in place and every child has to follow that structure even though they may have the potential to move much faster than the rest of the class. The situation is the same at school. If a child is in grade one and has the potential of doing grade three work, the parent will not go to the school and insist that the child must commence the next years work because he/she has the capability. They will have to follow the syllabus and the curriculum that the school has layed out. In the same manner at Madrasah a curriculum has been designed for each grade and learners will have to follow the designed curriculum.

Qur-aan teaching takes lots of effort and skill. Insha Allah if the teachers focus themselves correctly they will be able to improve the Qur-aan recitation. The greatest joy for a maktab teacher is to see his/her pupils reciting Qur-aan correctly. Comparatively other subjects are much easier to teach and can be rectified very easily. Improving Qur-aan recitation is a long arduous task which takes much tact, effort and dua. However the reward is indeed very great in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.

Q: What is Imaani Muzaakarah and how does it work?

A: Imaani Muzaakarah is a discussion on Imaan for the children in the Makaatib. Their tongues need to become moist with the talks of Allah Ta’ala. With the passing of time the reality of Imaan would insha-Allah enter their hearts.

Objective of the Imaani Muzaakarah:

  • To gain the Ma’rifat of Allah Ta’ala, i.e. to know who Allah Ta’ala is.

How it is done?

Mention a quality of Allah Ta’ala and let the whole class repeat it. Then explain that quality with an example or a story and then ask a few pupils to repeat it in their own words. One quality should be discussed for the entire term. Five minutes towards the end of class time should be dedicated for this, everyday. The next term, another quality of Allah Ta’ala should be brought in and discussed.

The following daily reminder should be first said altogether, thereafter the quality of Allah Ta’ala should be discussed. All this should not take more than 5 minutes.

  • Alhamdulillah, I am a Muslim.
  • I will live and die as a Muslim, Insha Allah.
  • Only Muslims will go to Jannah (paradise).
  • Jannah is forever.
  • It has rivers of honey and milk.
  • We will have gardens, palaces and servants.
  • We will never get tired, hungry or angry.
  • Jannah is full of happiness and goodness.
  • We will get whatever we wish for in Jannah.
  • Allah Ta’ala has blessed me with Imaan
  • I believe in one Allah and in Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam as the last messenger of Allah Ta’ala.
  • Imaan is my ticket to Jannah.
  • I love Allah Ta’ala and Allah Ta’ala loves me.
  • Allah Ta’ala is full of mercy and forgiveness.
  • I obey Allah Ta’ala in the way shown to me by Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam.
  • Allah Ta’ala is Khaaliq, (The Creator) – Allah Ta’ala created everything, the sun, moon, stars and birds. The sky, earth, mountains and animals. Allah Ta’ala created you and me and everything we see.
  • Allah Ta’ala is Raaziq, (The Provider) – Allah Ta’ala gave us food to eat and water to drink. Allah Ta’ala gave us eyes, ears, nose and a mouth; tongue to talk and feet to walk. Allah Ta’ala gave us whatever we have.
  • Allah Ta’ala is Maalik, (The Owner) – Allah Ta’ala owns everything. Nothing belongs to us. Everything belongs to Allah Ta’ala. Our shoes, clothing, houses and cars all belong to Allah Ta’ala. Allah Ta’ala takes it away whenever he wants. Allah Ta’ala gives and forgives, we get and forget. We need to prepare to meet Allah Ta’ala. With Salaah, Qur-aan, Zikr and Dua, we will get closer and closer to Allah Ta’ala.
  • Why do I come to Madrasah? I come to the madrasah to learn about Allah Ta’ala and His messenger, Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. I come to learn and practice what Allah Ta’ala wants from me at every moment of my life.