One of my closest friends at teachers college was Liz P. We are still close friends to this day. A few years back she revealed to me for the first time that she had found learning at school really difficult. I was shocked. She went on to tell me how she had developed specific learning strategies to get through not only high school, but also her tertiary education. This included using a tutor for a couple of hours each week during Years 10 to 12. Her grandfather was also pivotal as he helped her to understand her English novels and her homework tasks, so she could organize her thoughts and complete her school essays. It seems she kept her learning struggles a secret over the years from all of us. As such a proactive person, she has gone on to be very successful throughout her schooling and also during her working life.
During a recent Facebook live, I asked you what strategies your child uses to help them to get through their school day.
Thank you to everyone who answered our survey. Your answers were divided into 7 categories.
Interestingly, the largest response category consisted of avoidance techniques. The number one trick was to avoid work by taking bathroom breaks, leaving class to run errands, complaining about not feeling well or simply just avoiding doing schoolwork altogether.
The next largest category was the children who had developed strategies to help them to simplify the schoolwork or used tools to help them understand their coursework. Just like my friend Liz P, these children have developed personalised strategies to help them complete their work.
Getting help from friends, parents, school support teachers or counsellors was the next biggest group. This is also a strategy, however, it also represents a personal support network which can be critical for a struggling learner.
The next two categories had an equal number of responses. One was allowing extra time to complete school work and the other was using a tool like music or noise cancelling headphones to maintain concentration.
The last two categories were behavioural and included pretending to understand what was being taught (or faking it) and either being the class clown or bottling frustrations up.
Every response we received was slightly different, just like our children, however, it is clear that while some children have developed coping strategies just to get through the school day, others have developed strategies to ensure their success at school.