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Getting clever at school

clever; brainy; organise; plan; organize; focus; motivation; concentration;


Secrets of 'clever' people

Do you have clever kids in your class? Are you clever?

The 'cleverest' people are not always really brainy but they have learned how to be clever.

So, what do they do?

  1. secrets of clever peopleThey plan what they want to do and then organise everything they will need to carry out their plans.
  2. They stick to the plan and the time they have to do whatever they are going to do.
  3. They work around or through any problems and they ask for help when they need it.
  4. They take responsibility for themselves and their actions.

Planning and organising

To be successful you have to know what you want and what you will need. As you are moving between school and home every day you need to work out a routine that gets you and your belongings to the right place at the right time.

1 Make sure you have a set place to work at home that is away from distractions, like TV or other people, and where you can safely leave the stuff you are working with.
2 Have the right tools for the job, like pencils, paper, computer, usb, etc.
3 Have your books and equipment named.
4 Replace anything that needs replacing or is used up.
5 Keep everything neat and tidy. (Even clothes, shoes and sports gear!)
6 Learn to use files to keep paperwork easy to find, as well as the files on your computer.
7 If you are planning to do something, maybe a project, collect everything you think you will need first and keep it all together. You could use a large envelope if you haven't got a folder.
8 Think about what skills you will need and learn them before you start, eg. if you want to do a Powerpoint presentation then you need to know how to use that program.
9 Divide up the tasks and write a list so that you can tick off each bit of it and can see that you are making progress.
10 Plan ahead using a diary, calendar, organiser on your computer or mobile to work out when you will complete each part of what you want to do.
plan ahead, use files

be realistic!Be realistic. Everyone has wonderful ideas at times but you have to work with what you've got. Talk over your plans with your teacher, parent or caregiver to make sure that you can achieve what you want. Don't go for the easy option either. Something you did in year 2 may have been good then but if you are in year 6 you should be able to achieve a whole lot more. (And how embarrassing if a kid in your class who was in year 2 with you remembers that work you did then!)


Sticking to the plan

Sticking to the plan sounds really simple but be on the lookout for all the things that can happen to distract you.

  • Make a time to start and a time to stop work.
  • Tick off each part as you finish.
  • Make that 'voice in your head' be positive. Praise yourself: "Great I've done that and it looks good. What next?"
  • Be prepared to do a rough copy first, make all your alterations on that then do a neat copy to hand in. After all it's your work so you want to be proud of it. If you're working on a computer don't forget to save your changes! (It's a good idea to save first draft then final draft too, then you can see the progress you have made.)
  • Ask for help if you don't understand something but don't accept someone doing the work for you. It's YOUR work.
  • If there is some part of a task that you just don't want to do - like maybe you have to clean up your stuff - then talk yourself through and it will be done quickly.
  • Don't give up. Remember the saying "When the going gets tough the tough get going." Be tough!

Getting help

Everyone needs help at times and you won't get it if you don't ask.

asking for help is OK

  1. Think about what you want to know.
  2. Who is the best person to ask?

It's ok for you to ask for help.

It isn't ok if someone does the work for you.

It's your work and you need to know that one day, when you're older, you should be able to do all sorts of things for yourself so start now.

it's not OK to ask someone else to do it for you

You can ask adults to help with:

  • Teaching you new things.
  • Asking you questions about what you've learned.
  • Checking your work and helping you to fix up mistakes.
  • Checking your learning, like hearing you read, testing you on spellings and tables.
  • Getting the stuff you need.
  • Helping you to work in a quiet place.
  • Helping you to organise your work space.
  • Letting you help them so that you can learn how to do things for yourself.

It is not good for you to get the kind of help from adults that:
getting help from adults  does the work for you
  tells you the answers rather than how to get the answer
  organises all your stuff for you
  makes excuses for you when you haven't done the work
  organises you instead of you organizing yourself 
     (nag attacks!)

Being responsible

Being clever is about being responsible for your own stuff, your own work and your own learning.

You need to be responsible by.

  • learn!  practise!Making sure you understand what you have to do.
  • Being a good listener and asking questions to make sure you understand when you are learning new stuff.
  • Asking for help when you need it.
  • Staying on task and not getting distracted by what's going on around you.
  • Finishing work on time.
  • Owning your own work.
  • Remembering to reference your work by showing where you found the information.
  • Doing your best.

What kids say

  • "Lots of kids get very distracted in class but it's important to concentrate. Everyone is good at different things and not everyone is good at the same thing. Do your best and don't think about what other people think of you." Lauren
  • "Have everything ready before you start. If you have to go and get something you might get distracted, then you get back to your work and don't feel like doing it." Michael.
  • "Be prepared to sacrifice your favourite things to complete your work. Like, when I didn't go to tennis so that I could finish my homework." Trent
  • "Learn things like tables and spellings. It makes everything much easier if you don't have to keep looking things up." Ashley
  • "It feels so good when you have done good work and handed it in at the right time." Brian
  • "I've really improved in reading since Mum hears me read every night."
  • "I used to get really stressed doing projects but now I tick things off when they're done and I get everything in on time."
  • "I fee sorry for kids who say "This is boring" when they don't understand something instead of asking for help."
  • "I have learned it's not clever to play around and make excuses for why you haven't finished. It's your life you are wasting." Kieran

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate 
Set yourself a high standard. This is your work and you want to be proud of it don't you? So, always do your best, it may take a bit more time but what is the point of doing something 'any old how'? You have to do it anyway so make it worthwhile. Then you are achieving something you can feel good about and not just wasting your time doing something you feel ashamed of and you know you could do better.

Who would you want in your team or project group? Someone who can be relied on to always do her or his best or someone who is really talented but doesn't want to stick at anything?

The last word

It's clever to use what you have got and make the most of it. It isn't clever to be a' real brain' but never finish what you started.

The tortoiseDo you know the story about the race between the tortoise and the hare?
The tortoise walked slowly and steadily to the finish of the race while the hare ran around showing off and then realized he would have to really race to try and catch up with the tortoise. Guess what? The hare was too late and the steady, slow old tortoise won the race.

get organised

I wasn't good at school work
And I really didn't try.
I never had the right stuff
"Done, but left it home," I'd lie.
I didn't really care until
I then began to see
That when kids picked for work pals
The last one picked was me!
So, I got my act together
And began to organize.
I learned to try and worked hard.
I may never win a prize
But, nowadays I feel good.
Work's finished when it's due.
I'm learning heaps and trying hard.
If I can, you can too!

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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