8-year-old son keeps claiming he's not smart enough to do his homework

I've been the foster father to my girlfriends child for nearly three years now. He's eight years old, born late in the year, so he is the youngest in his class.

When they moved in with me (2+ years ago), they changed cities and he had to change schools. He went from a small-town school with small classes to a large school with large classes and a lot of homework.

While his homework is not by any means excessive, for the last few weeks he has spent nearly the entire evening on it. He is spending hours on math tasks. Think:

580 + 224 - 305 =
328 - 200 + 50 =

He will often just write down a clearly false answer, in the hopes of ending the homework early.

Think:

580 + 224 - 305 = 524

However, I catch this every time, and every time he has to start over and write down each step.

And when it comes to writing tasks they end up extremely sloppy and often with clear errors, mostly letters missing from the end of a word and extremely sloppy hand-writing that stands in stark contrast to his writing in class.

For example (translated from Dutch):

The baby was cryin.
The man was singin.

He will then go on a rant, putting his hands to his ears and saying he's not smart enough, can't ever do it, just too dumb. Which can last an hour.

I've taken to ignoring these rants and, letting him remain at his desk until the job is either done, or I feel like it's been too long since any reaction, and I go to ask if he requires help.

If he needs help I make a new exercise, not one on the paper, and we do this one together, after which he has to do the rest himself. In extreme cases if he can't seem to calm down, we go for a walk, I ask him questions, we talk about cartoons, and when we get back home he goes back to his homework.

However, the homework is rarely done in its entirety. On some days his homework is half done, and he's been at his desk until bedtime.

I'm not sure how to handle this, as my current method has not helped. We're two weeks in and if anything he seems less aggravated by having to sit at his desk all evening.

• Welcome to Parenting.SE! Does he have the same sort of trouble with other subjects or primarily just the math? Is the difference in attitude about the homework new, or was he slow at homework previously but there was simply less of it? Have you talked to the teacher to get an idea of what his classroom performance is, both attitude and academic? Sep 16 '15 at 11:08
• @Erica Thank you! The trouble was there before, but has gotten worse as there is an increase in homework with the new school year. We asked the teacher and while he is not top of the class, he is very like-able and very social. He's mostly known for being the kid that stops fights and bought a ball to share with the rest. (In other words, when we asked about how well he does we were deflected with a response about how nice he is). It's in most subjects, his writing is sloppy and he often misses letters (leaving the last letter, or a silent letter out of a word). Sep 16 '15 at 11:12
• Who's been teaching him that "I'm too dumb" a) applies to him and b) is a reasonable explanation for not doing something? Sep 16 '15 at 15:58
• I have a math PhD and have done lots of tutoring and classroom teaching. I think that many people believe they aren't good at math because they think a smart person would be able to see really deep into it (in movies there would be patterns floating around the room)- but most of the time there is nothing to see. You just follow the rules and that's it. I've heard many times after a student did something correctly -- Why? I don't understand -- and I would say Actually you do understand, there is a simple definition or algebraic task you have to do, and you did it, and that's the end of it! Sep 17 '15 at 17:49
• Read up on the work of Carol Dweck. Brief summary: we reward our children for being smart, so they learn that it's an immutable property, when that's not the case. It's only part of your problem, but it might help. Sep 18 '15 at 4:29

Consider the possibility of a learning disability, ADHD, or other obstacle that's interfering with his ability to either learn the material or express his knowledge. The issue may be a lot bigger than struggling with homework, and it's common for such children to see themselves as stupid or dumb — they know they're behind their classmates, and this leads to a self-reinforcing idea that they "can't ever do it". Long-term interventions such as tutoring, altered workloads, and so on can be more easily put in place if there's a professional diagnosis.

Regardless of whether you pursue that investigation or what the results are, you still need an plan for now that can help make homework manageable. Spending hours on third or fourth grade homework is not typical, and I don't think it is what the teacher intends, either. When homework is this difficult, it becomes a time sink for everybody in the family: your son is stuck at his desk all evening, and you're working with both his academic struggle and his personal frustration.

• Have a snack and break before homework starts. School is a long period of behaving nicely and sitting still. And since lunch was at least a few hours ago, kids are typically really hungry. That's not a good state of mind to try to focus on More Work.

The best type of snack and break is found through experimentation.

• Consider what sort and how long of a break works best. If my son plays a video game before he starts on homework, his performance is radically worse. Something physical (even just running in circles outside) makes a big difference.

• Also think about the type of snack. If he has pure carbs (e.g. a bagel) without any protein (e.g. a smear of peanut butter), he tends to fidget a lot more.

• Stay nearby while he's working. This depends a bit on the child; sometimes they don't want supervision or assistance, or may even be frustrated with the parent that is making them do work. However, there are some advantages.

• If you can notice quickly that he's working poorly, it's easier to stop early than it is to have to redo the entire assignment. Reread the instructions, restate your and the teacher's expectations (tidy handwriting, attention to work), etc.

• If he has questions, he can easily ask rather than needing to go find you (or guess).

• Just having company can be a comfort when doing something stressful.

• Watch closely for exhaustion and frustration, and redirect as needed. Doing his homework when sad/angry isn't productive. You mention that you take walks together; that's a great idea. Find other, perhaps smaller/shorter, things that you can do that distract him (working on dinner preparation, playing with toys, random housework or repairs, cleaning).

• Take small breaks between assignments, or even within assignments. A pile of homework can be overwhelming. A collection of shorter tasks, and a plan to finish, is much more achievable. (This answer covers that nicely, so I digress.)

• Praise his effort, and redirect self-demeaning statements. Putting in so many hours for what feels like so little result is a lot of work, emotionally and physically and mentally. When he cries that he's stupid, come back with You're not. I can tell you're having a hard time, and I'm proud of you for working so hard. I'm here to help you get through it.

• Consider a reward system, both short-term (when you're done you can watch cartoons) and long-term (if you finish your homework for five days straight, you can get a new book). Any incentives like "this helps you learn" or "your teacher says you have to" are too abstract.

• Keep asking for dialogue with his teacher. You mentioned "when we asked about how well he does we were deflected with a response about how nice he is" — At only two weeks into the school year, that may be all she does know about him (he's nice to classmates and isn't causing trouble). She may not see the same stress, crying, and anger that you do at home.

Show that you support your son and you are concerned, about both his lack of content mastery and about the impact on his self-esteem. Despite the opinion of most school-age children, teachers assign homework for practice, not torture. If that homework isn't being done (or done well), then it isn't achieving its goal and hopefully she can work with you to figure out what isn't working and how it can be adjusted.

• +1, very great answer. For the part about `redirect self-demeaning statements`. That might be hard, I'm a very matter of fact person who is very direct. And it is not really in my character, which is something he would pick up pretty fast and he might not react well to. If there was some way I could do it in a lame joke, now that he would believe. However for the time being I'm sticking to saying that he's wrong about that, and that in time he'll realize that it's more about effort and not really about some innate intelligence. Sep 16 '15 at 14:23
• It might be worth attempting -- I mean, you honestly don't believe he's stupid, you honestly do believe he's having a hard time, and that can be stated directly. Sometimes sincerity is well received (I tend to be sarcastic and flippant in everyday conversation, and my kids have learned that not-sarcastic mom words are more important). However, `nah, this HOMEWORK is stupid` or `you know why seven is the most dangerous number? because 7 8 9` (which I realize won't translate, but any lame math joke) could also work as a distraction :) Sep 16 '15 at 14:51
• +1 for a reward system. My mother used a system of gold star stickers to help me read. Every 10 stars got me a treat, usually an action figure. I vividly remember the exhilaration of watching a new star go up on the board. It was fulfilling. Sep 17 '15 at 12:00
• +1 for pointing out the possibility of a learning difference and continuing with suggestions for addressing the issue immediately. Even if the child has a learning difference, research might provide the parent with some pointers, but it remains the parent who should experiment with and discover the most effective techniques. Sep 17 '15 at 15:02
• One redirecting technique might be to flatly tell him, "You're not too dumb, and we will never accept that as an excuse, so you may as well stop saying it." (I'm not claiming that will work after one try, but, if you use it often enough, he may start to realize it's not getting him anywhere.) Usually, "I'm too dumb," really means, "I'm too lazy," but the former is easier to say at this age because it deflects the blame toward an inate trait (which ostensibly can't be helped or rectified) rather than on poor character and decision-making (which puts the blame more squarely on his shoulders).
– J.R.
Sep 17 '15 at 22:07

I had similar issues when I was growing up. Let's break this down.

Your son is affable and well-liked by his teachers - so it's not a behavioral issue. With increases in homework, it's possible that your son is getting stressed by his increased workload. John's mention of forgetting terms and shortcuts over the summer months is also probable.

Help him by compartmentalizing his work:

• Split his work into their individual subjects, instead of all together in a clump.
• Have him work on his weakest subject first.
• In school, consider getting him a daily organizer for writing down his assignments. This helps him see how much work he actually has. It's actually much smaller than he thinks.
• Encourage him as he solves problems and actually finishes work on time.
• Have him take a break every so often. Get him to stand up and walk around for a bit if he's getting frustrated. A break away from the desk can be mentally refreshing.

You also mentioned that

his writing is sloppy and he often misses letters

If this is a recent development, it could be something to investigate further with a teacher or specialist. This also loops back to your original issue. Can he read/understand his own notes? Is he having difficulty reading the words of the math equations in his workbook?

• It's hard to give examples of the letters missing, because I would have to translate it from dutch. However it is usually silent letters, or the last letter in a word. I'm not sure if this is a sign of something deeper, and don't want to overreact. We will see about getting him an organizer, and split the work up more. Thank you! Sep 16 '15 at 13:30
• +1 for the question about his own understanding of the notes! I am a terrible handwriter, and even typed notes miss letters... and I often never even realise they are missing until someone tells me. If they are indeed just the silent letters, he himself may be able to read just fine. Still, ask an expert about this -> after all, OTHERS have to understand his writing, too. In my case, it is a possible mild dyslexia, and when writing for others, I have just learned to pay extra-attention and have a spellchecker running.But it can just as well be distraction or lack of focus due to frustration. Sep 16 '15 at 13:31
• I would have him work on the easiest thing first. That way he has already achieved something when it gets to the hard things, so he is probably more motivated. Also, it ensures at least some things get done. I am a strong believer in enforcing your strengths, and not to train your weeknesses - it can be just so frustrating. Sep 17 '15 at 8:19

I am retired now and have had two distinct successful careers. However I went through a lot of problems educationally.

1. For several years (under the age of 9) I was short-sighted but undiagnosed. Whenever there was a school sight test I would go close to the chart and memorise it so that when it was my turn, I could pass. During class I would regularly walk to the front and sharpen my pencil over the waste-bin in order to read what was written on the board. I just didn't want to wear glasses.

Suggestion - get all the relevant tests done. Sight, hearing, and anything else that could physically cause a problem.

1. From the age of twelve onwards, I rarely if ever did my homework. I used to take the books home with every intention of doing it but couldn't find the self-discipline. Either I copied from other students or got low marks. I would even read the wrong chapter in a book out of interest but not read the chapter that had been set by the teacher. I wasn't consciously rebelling. I still don't understand what stopped me.

Possible solution (time consuming) - The biggest hurdle with any work is getting started. Spend time together working through the reading or examples until there is some momentum. Then gradually disconnect as the work progresses but be prepared to join in again.

1. My father used to make me sit at my desk - I got to the point that I could sit there for hours without doing anything. When he checked I would either pretend to work or simply not even fake any activity. He got incredibly frustrated but it made no difference.

I'll finish by saying that I barely passed my exams, got a boring job in insurance which I hated and got so fed up with it that I found my own motivation to take guitar lessons. Eventually I went to music college and became a professor. Later I changed to computing, took a degree part-time while working and got a first class honours degree. The motivation was mine and not imposed on me by anyone else.

So, my guess is that either there is a physical or intellectual problem that can be diagnosed or you have someone who needs to find their own motivation rather than being constantly pushed.

Lastly, this may be a non-academic person who will go on to make a lot of money by starting a business and successfully manage others to do the trivial stuff like writing nicely and adding up numbers.

• Neither I nor my gf have high school degrees. We understand the inclination to not want to work for school. However I see a lot of young cocky kids in full suits bought by daddy breeze through life. And if possible I would like our kid to have a chance at an easy early life. I don't fear him failing, I just want him to get a lot of chances at success. Sep 16 '15 at 20:37
• My suspicion is that you have someone who simply hasn't matured enough yet to understand (a) that they are responsible for their own success and (b) what it is that they actually want out of life. Does he want a suit? Does he want a car? If not then you are wasting your time. If he does then connect the dots and explain how doing homework may lead to having those things. Or find out how he plans to get those things and encourage him provided it is legal. It is impossible to force someone to be motivated. It has to come from within. Sep 16 '15 at 20:47
• I've met very few 8-year-olds who are truly self-motivated to study based on their personal future goals; even the ones that conscientiously turn in homework are the ones with parents who are heavily involved (encouraging, reminding, nagging, assisting, whatever). I'd rely on the "spend time together working" until older, at which point finding a motivation becomes not only possible, but also much more critical to success. Overall nice answer, though, welcome to Parenting :) Sep 16 '15 at 21:01
• @Erica - Thanks for the welcome and I agree with your comment. However in some cultures (not mine as a child unfortunately) there is a tradition of spreading a number of items around the room in front of a quite young child and seeing what they gravitate towards. It might be a violin, coins and notes, a book or a calculator. Even young children can become highly motivated if presented with something they really enjoy and encouraged to pursue it. This can then be a reward for doing the more boring stuff. Sep 16 '15 at 21:10
• @chaslyfromUK My point was mostly that no matter what he wants to become, there are some jobs that have entry levels, and some that do not. While he can always safely fall back on gardening if he feels that that is his passion. It is vastly more difficult to step into for example law or education (at least here) once you've closed those doors. I fully expect him to not realize what it is he wants to do for the the rest of his life, as I barely know myself. Sep 17 '15 at 7:47

By any chance do you normally praise him for being smart when he succeeds at something?

http://www.parentingscience.com/praise-and-intelligence.html

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/

In my opinion the 2 articles above go a little beyond what the evidence supports in their claims but certain types of praise can have odd effects.

When you praise kids for their intelligence, they learn to view their failures as evidence of stupidity

In the experiments by Mueller and Dweck, kids were given moderately difficult problems to solve. When each kid was finished, he was told “Wow, you did really well on these problems. You got….a really high score” (Mueller and Dweck 2002).

In addition, each kid received one of three treatments. He was either

• praised for his intelligence (“You must be smart at these problems”)

• praised for his effort (“You must have worked hard at these problems”),

or

• given no additional feedback (the control condition)

Next, kids were given a second set of problems—this time, very difficult ones[that the kids would certainly not be able to do]—and kids were asked to explain why they performed poorly.

The kids who had been praised for their intelligence on previous tasks attributed more of their failure to a lack of intelligence.

They were also more likely to give up faster once they'd found something beyond their ability.

He might be a bright kid who's learned to believe that success is due to innate ability hence once he hits things he can't breeze through he attributes it to his own stupidity.

When he succeeds do you say "You must be so smart!" or something like "You must have worked really hard!"?

• We don't generally put emphasis on intelligence, which is one of the reasons why his reaction is so odd. I'm not entirely sure where it came from. Actually come to think of it, the only thing I've said which might be related has been `I'm not smarter, I've just had a lot more years to do math than you have`. Sep 16 '15 at 13:42
• Even though I knew the basics of this research, I found the book Carol Dweck's book Mindset worth reading, and I recommend it. Sep 17 '15 at 8:51
• I read both of these articles and one thought kept occurring to me. In the group initially praised for their intelligence, when given the hard problems they were asked about why they did poorly. What if instead, they had been told after the hard problems that they didn't try hard enough on them? In other words, praise intelligence, criticize lack of effort. I'd really like to see this study replicated with an additional variable tracked for [type of feedback given after the hard set of problems]. Sep 18 '15 at 13:20
• @DanHenderson There's quite a lot of similar replications though I'm of the belief that the conclusions drawn tend to be a little bit too pat to a narrative. Another way of phrasing it might be: "kids praised for intelligence more willing to trust their judgement when they believe (correctly) that a task is impossible" so personally I'd like to see a replication involving a sliding scale of problems to see which kids keep going when faced with gradually harder problems that they can actually do. Sep 18 '15 at 13:39

My guess is that he might be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that he needs to do. He feels that theres so much there is no possible way to do it all (at least not correctly, not step by step - not the "slow" way) in the time he has remaining. Thats why working until bed time provides him with a sense of relief. He is able to tell himself that he really spent his entire time on the homework - so there is nothing more he could do about it. Which is a good thing, because it seems that he really wants to do everything he can to fix it.

One thing I would try first is acknowledge his feelings. That way he would know that you understand. This should lessen his burden. Even simply telling the above paragraph to him might help (in the form of questions e.g.: "You're feeling so overwhelmed from this homework, aren't you? It feels like there is no way to do it on time... etc"). He might also say something more and correct you if the assumption is wrong.

By acknowledging I don't also mean accepting the status quo. You could empathetically state that his solution isn't acceptable, e.g. "It really sucks that it doesn't seem to help get the homework done. Lets try and come up with a solution that works...".

You could even ask him what ideas he has to solve this problem, and write them all down (without commenting on them, even if they look silly / ridiculous). This should help assure him that you're taking his troubles seriously. It might also uncover some more reasons why he is doing what he does - especially his suggestions for solutions that seem unorthodox may give you a clue as to whats the underlying cause.

The above should help and is loosely based on this book about talking to children.

Below this is just a guess about the reasons and one possible idea you could try - but like any guess it could be completely wrong.

From what you're saying, it seems like reason he needs a lot of time isn't because of the homework - its because he spends most of his energy being terrified that there is not enough time to do the work. This results with an endless cycle (why do I need so much time? because I'm stupid thats why!) resulting with more time spent worrying and even more feelings of inadequacy and so on.

The idea is to do an activity together that requires a LOT of repetitive hard work. Building a large Lego castle together, "brick by brick" or putting together a puzzle with lots and lots of pieces. The first one might be better if the castle looks huge (if the first reaction is "wow this will take ages to build").

That should help him instil a "brick by brick" mentality to doing the work. Hopefully afterwards he will know that no matter how much work there is "brick by brick" will get him there soon; and that he'll get better at "brick laying" from the repetition.

I would avoid mentioning that this is related to the homework though, other than maybe using the catch phrase "brick by brick" in both contexts. The more subtle the connection is, the better chance that he gets that "aha!" moment which commits the connection to memory strongly for use at a later time when a frustration arises.

Trying to resolve stupid C programming problem re. hashing. Taking a break and saw this. Brought back memories. I hated school/hated homework/detested being forced to work at stuff that others wanted me to do. Really hated school. Never did more than bare minimum, but then I discovered I could study in a library, and read what I wanted. Was a joy.

Read everything. Teachers would give me stupid childrens books, but when they left, I would find the advanced science section and just read stuff. This is a good teaching algo. Tell the kid the library is a dangerous and forbidden place, then let him go there. Here is idea for you. I recall my mom bought me flash-cards, and she sat with me until I was able to learn/memorise the multiplication table. At the time, I recall being very surprised that I could actually automatically memorize all these number combos. Honestly didn't believe I could do it. I thought it would take months, took about 1 or two nights. So I could do it, it was big revelation.

Here is idea: Work very carefully, using rewards of some kind, to show 8-year-old son the algorithms for doing the homework - the specific steps that one has to follow to get it done. Kids don't know this - they don't know the algo for studying and learning new stuff. Some don't even know they can memorize (which, actually, you can - quite a lot actually - there are teachable tricks to memory work). For example, if he has to add some big numbers together, make sure he understands the process for breaking them down in to little, easy to add numbers, and then putting them back together again. I remember being kicked out of class for talking and missing where they taught the process for long division. Annoyed me for years. I just missed it. Finally, got some other student to show me.

For adults, so much of what we do is automatic, we have trouble recalling how and when we learned it. I am perhaps a bit of an outlier, as I recall exactly, and specifically, how and where I learned just about every key thing. Each was a big surprise.

I remember learning how to study and pass exams. Also thought I was just too stupid to do it. I just didn't know the algo. Teach the kid to write down stuff, and show him how it does two things. First, it lets you go back and almost cheat - you can refresh yourself quickly on something really complicated, just by skipping thru your notes. And secondly, the very act of looking, thinking, writing, and then looking at what you wrote, serves to load the data into your "necktop" computer - ie. your brain. It is about 100 times better than just reading the material. Just the act of copying the stuff onto paper - study notes, a work-book, a computer-screen, etc.. will help massively. This, I recall, was a huge revelation.

Oh, and teach clearly, that any big, ugly problem, can usually be broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, so that each small piece can be solved. Then, you just re-assemble the pieces carefully, and voila, the problem almost appears to have solved itself. (Convergence by step-wise refinement, top-down planning, PERT networks, GANTT charting, all that project management hoohaw is just specific formalizations of a very general way of working). But kids don't know this, unless someone tells them carefully, and then maybe shows them. If math is a problem, it is usually because the math teacher is bad. (Maybe that is you? I recall my father - who was a smart guy - could not teach to save his life. He was clever, but he lacked the ability to make simple cognative leaps. He had little imagination. My mother was the genius - she could just look at a problem, and see straight thru the fluff, and nail the key fact, and ask the key question. But I believe these skills are teachable. There is a famous teaching experiment re. trading, (google "the silence of the Turtles", a chapter in a financial book about trading commodities). Bottom line was, if people are able to learn the basic rules, and the rules were correct, you could teach ordinary people to trade the commodity markets successfully, and make big money. This result defied all commonly held views in pedogological, financial and psychological research, and contradicted the widely held economic view that markets are somehow efficient. It all came down to just teaching people some basic procedures - algorithms - on how to do something that was only of medium level difficulty.

So, this is the algo for your son. Make sure he knows - step by step by step - how he can solve a certain class of problems. Math is an easy place to start. The rules are simple, can be understood, and then applied. And you can then check that you did it right. Get him to draw a flowchart of how to solve a tough problem that he feels he can't do. Keep re-enforcing, by gentle explanation, over and over, that everyone faces these issues, and everyone everywhere has to do some form of this thing he is learning how to do. Everybody has to begin somewhere. Work with him on the basics, if he does not have the basics. (lots of kids don't now.). When he figures out something, make sure to give some positive response.

And try to find out what really excites him. Use that both in the re-enforcement regime, and frame the stuff he has difficulty with terms of that thing he likes. Old example: kids that didn't think they could do math, but liked baseball, could be taught a lot of math and stats just by keeping track of scores, RBI's, batting averages, league tables, etc. Or, if they liked cars, they could learn basic calculus concepts by looking at how the speedometer needle moved... stuff like that. Find things that he likes, and frame hard problem-solving work within the context of the environment that surrounds the stuff he likes. That way, it holds his interest long enough for him to maybe learn the key concepts, so that the homework becomes easier as time goes on. Hope some of this helps.

Oh, and limit TV and computer games. Especially computer games. Too much gaming degrades imagination and social skills, really limits kid's mental growth.

Hope something helps. Best of luck.

• I think it's a bit early in his development for the whole `break larger things up into smaller chunks`. As most of what he learns right now is the smaller things. The main issue is his homework, and his discipline at home. I'm also a bit affronted by the idea that gaming degrades imagination and social skills. Both me and my girlfriend are gamers, and she makes it a wholly interactive and social thing by interacting through twitch. While I personally have lead raid groups in mmo's and it has definitely helped my imagination when it comes to problem solving. Thank you for the advice though! Sep 17 '15 at 7:32

The primary barrier I've found having come through public schooling was: no grounding, of any kind, on the subject of study. Through my tenure in school I was not only never shown any fundamentals of how to study, in fact I was dissuaded by teachers and others from study tools, e.g. a dictionary, and instead given thorough instruction on how to take tests.

The best coverage of the topic of study I've found was in L. Ron Hubbard's "Study Technology". Major points it covers are referred to as Barriers to Study. They are in brief:

1. Lack of Mass (Physical Object) of What is Being Studied

If one is attempting to understand the function and operation of a car or a computer or a solar system, the printed page and spoken word are no substitute for the object itself. It would be difficult to understand how to use a computer for the first time if you did not have the computer there in front of you. In fact, lacking the object associated with a word can inhibit all understanding.

2. Too Steep a Study Gradient

A gradient is a way of learning or doing something step by step. A gradient can be easy where each step can be done easily, or it can be hard where each step is difficult to do. Too steep a gradient consists of not having mastered prior skills before going on to more complicated or detailed steps.

3. A Word Not Understood or Wrongly Understood

“Mis” means not or wrongly. “Misunderstood” means not understood or wrongly understood. A misunderstood word is a word which is not understood or a word which is wrongly understood. ...The misunderstood word can stop a student in his tracks completely. Knowing how to determine when there is a misunderstood word or symbol, how to find it and how to handle it are critical to the success of any student.

That's a real high overview, it is covered in more detail on the Applied Scholastics web site. There is also an online course offered by the Church of Scientology, though strictly on the subject of study, the video is helpful and as of yet the Applied Scholastics site seems to be only in English while this is more languages.

• You should mention that that is Scientology-based. It matters. Sep 17 '15 at 6:51
• And we always paraphrase the main points in the answer, any links may provide additional material. That said, I don't see a practical approach to OP's question here.
– Stephie
Sep 17 '15 at 6:58
• Thanks for all the comments - I updated it to include the main points in the answer and point mention that the online course is offered through the Church of Scientology. But this is based L. Ron Hubbard's research into the field of study, not religion - sorry for any confusions caused there. Sep 18 '15 at 22:36