The 8 pieces of the learning puzzle – part 2 How can parents help.

We need to be aware of the skills that must be mastered that may influence student’s success and if the skills are not being learnt, we need to investigate why.

Thinking with Numbers  

If a child does not develop a concept of number or an understanding of number values and quantity, there’s a number blindness called dyscalculia. 

What can parents do?

Mechanical mathematics i.e. bonds and tables or problem solving. Do they recognise their numbers, can they count, etc.

Use objects around the house as counters, bottle tops, beans, buttons, etc and put a few down and ask them to first guess and then count the number. Write the number or point to the number.

Use playing cards to practice counting and adding.

100 grids, number charts, ruler, tape measures, etc. for number sequence activities.

Khan Academy 


Extra maths lessons, i.e. Kip McGrath, Master Maths, Kumon Maths

Mastering the Challenges of Reading

These students struggle to learn the individual letter sounds, blends and sight words and so reading is slow, tedious and they can seldom understand what they are reading about. We say there is a word blindness called dyslexia. October ADHD awareness month. 

What can parents do?

Watch your child when they are trying to read…do they struggle with recognising the sounds, do they read very slowly, can they comprehend, attitude towards…

Read stories and point to the words as you read. 

Point out words often.

Play rhyming word games. I spy…

Subtitles on

Assess hearing and speech development.

Getting Thoughts on Paper

Some students struggle to use their imagination to create stories from ideas. There are often problems with spelling and learning the punctuation rules.

What can parents do?

Encourage kids to tell stories using “what happened first, next, and then, how did it end? First tell, and then write. Make use of storyboards. 

Use sequence pictures and ask them to make up a story with the pictures.

What would you do if…. Finish my story… 

Developing Control Over Attention

Attention deficit disorder is a learning barrier where students struggle to focus, sustain attention and ignore irrelevant or unimportant information and therefore are very easily distracted. Work pace is slow and they seldom are able to complete tasks. 

What can parents do?

Visit a paed and request an ADHD assessment or find a symptom checklist on the internet. Visit ADDITUDE for more information. Try a 2 week trial. Liaise with the teacher to see if there is an improvement. Watch for any side effects. 

Acquiring Motor Mastery

These students struggle to hold and manipulate a pencil and therefore writing is oftentimes untidy and slow. They might also struggle with tasks like cutting and pasting in worksheets.


What can parents do?

Practice makes perfect. Fine motor skills activities like rolling playdough with finger tips, use tweezers to pick up beans, peg boards, threading, etc.

OT assessment

Understanding, producing and communicating Ideas

Being able to clearly articulate thoughts and ideas orally or in written form is important in order to be able to show what you know. Oftentimes the student understands and learns the work for an assessment but struggles to explain the work in the test and underperforms. They might also not be able to write enough to earn the correct mark allocation.

What can parents do?

Sequential ordering – Explain a recipe, the rules of a game, steps in a science experiment, being able to tell a story back to you, skip counting, remembering a phone number. 

Can they read a story and then answer questions about the story – comprehension. Knowing what they are being asked when solving story sums. 

Getting Organized & Good Work Habits

Forgetting books or stationery at home or at school, losing belongings, not being prepared, leaving assignments until the last minute or forgetting to do them altogether, not knowing how to use a diary or calendar, having a poor concept of time, etc. 

What can parents do?

Set time limits for things, use egg timer or stopwatch for e.g. brushing teeth, getting dressed. Use calendars and planners. Teach songs about time and alphabet, counting, days of the week, months etc. Try to keep work space tidy and organised.

Preparing for projects, speeches or assignments –

Step 1 – brainstorm

Step 2 – gather info

Step 3 – presentation method

Step 4- key words

Step 5 – expanding on keywords

Step 6 – heading and layout

Step 7 – handing in

Learning to Relate to Others

Struggling with friendships, getting drawn in to drama, misreading social cues, being a bully or being bullied. 

What can parents do?

Listen and give advice. Don’t fight their battles for them. Provide social tutoria support, inform the school if there is a report of ongoing bullying but don’t take matters into your own hands. Find other kids with similar interests and hobbies. 

Consult with the school counsellor

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