“Imaginary friends in your head.” – Doc Meek

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I had the privilege of helping a “little guy” in Grade One. He was struggling and struggling. He felt he would never be able to learn. He was way behind in arithmetic and reading.

I asked Sam (not his real name) if there was anything he liked about school.



Suddenly Sam brightened.

“I really like playing on the monkey bars at recess!” he said brightly.

“Are you good at it?” I encouraged.

“Oh yeah, I can climb better than the other kids.”

An imaginary climber in his head 

“Sam, why don’t we pretend you have a little climber in your head that helps you climb monkey bars?”

Sam loved it. A friend in his head.

“Is your little climber that lives in your head a good climber?” I inquired.

“Oh yeah,” said Sam.

Climber and Adder and Reader Makes Three

“Which is easier for you, Sam… arithmetic or reading?”

“Neither one.”

“I know… and if you had to pick one, which would be easier?”

Sam frowned… then brightened and blurted out: “I can do adding!”

“Good! Let’s pretend you have a little guy in your head that helps you with adding.”

Sam liked that. Two friends in his head. Both good helpers.

“Hey!” I blurted out, “let’s pretend you have a little guy in your head that helps you with reading!”

“He’s not very good,” said Sam sadly.

 A friend in need is a friend indeed 

“Yeah… but he’s good two good friends to help him out… Climber and Adder, right?”

“I never thought of that,” said Sam thoughtfully.

“Why don’t we have Climber and Adder make friends with Reader!” I exclaimed. “Climber and Adder are really good helpers and maybe they can help Reader become a really good helper too! What do you think?”

Sam caught the vision at once and brightened considerably: “Hey, let’s have them all be good friends and help each other!”

Guess what!?

Sam and his three friends (Climber, Adder and Reader) lived happily ever after.

Would it surprise you to learn that Reader became better and better and better and better?

 – Doc Meek, Learning Specialist, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA, Feb 20, 2014

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“Low-cost learning coach is golden.” – Doc Meek

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Harold (not his real name) was brought into the learning clinic by his frustrated father, a single parent. “All I want to know,” said he, “is how it is possible for my boy to be in Grade 5 and still not reading properly?”

So began a somewhat tense discussion between the father and myself, a Neurological Learning Specialist at THE LEARNING CLINIC WORLDWIDE.

Different Brains Learn Different Ways

“Different brains learn in different ways,” I said to the father. “Some brains learn in very unusual ways, and the school system cannot keep up with all the variations, so they tend to teach in a few standard ways and many of the pupils learn to read using those few regular ways, and the rest tend to suffer.”

“So can you help my boy learn to read properly?” asked the father anxiously. “Most likely,” I said.

Harold attended the learning clinic for several Saturdays in a row, about an hour each Saturday. I asked the father to bring in tests of hearing and eyesight for Harold and they were normal.

Specialized Reading Strategies

I taught Harold various visualization strategies (drawing a quick rough outline of an object, such as a dog for example, and writing DOG right on the dog, not under it as a caption).

Then I said to the father, “We need Harold to be working with someone every single day for 10-15 minutes with various active learning strategies. An hour on Saturday with me won’t do the job. For one thing it’s too expensive and Harold will not make the needed progress unless he practices learning strategies daily.”

A Low-cost Learning Coach

I asked the father to find an inexpensive daily learning coach. “The lady next door? A Grade 11 student who could work with Harold every noon hour at school?”

“The learning coach does not need to have any professional credentials,” I emphasized.

“The only requirement for the learning coach is that they like Harold. ”

“And that Harold likes them. That’s it. ”

“I’ll teach the learning coach what to do, what simple learning strategies to practice each day with Harold, and you can bring Harold and his learning coach in to see me occasionally on Saturdays so we can see how things are going, OK?”

The father kept bringing Harold in every Saturday and said, “I can’t find anybody handy to work with Harold.”

“You’re wasting your money if you don’t get a daily learning coach to help,” I said, “and more to the point, Harold will not be making the progress he needs to make to be successful in school without a few minutes practice every day with the learning coach.”

An Older Student for a Learning Coach (“Reading Buddy”)

Finally, the father found a Grade 7 student to help. I was concerned the boys were only two grades apart. I was afraid they would just play around and not do any useful practice with reading.

I kept my concerns to myself.

Because the Grade 7 student was so close to Harold’s age, we decided to call him a “reading buddy” instead of a learning coach.

It was wonderful to watch this reading buddy work gently with Harold in practicing his daily learning strategies.

Now, with his daily practice in place for 15 minutes every noon hour at school, Harold’s reading skills began to soar!

The father was delighted and so was Harold!

Harold’s marks soared at school as well, and his teacher was so pleased.

The Reading Buddy Himself Struggled with Reading

I found out later that the Grade 7 student had reading problems and if I had known that I probably would not have been willing to let him act as Harold’s reading buddy.

It speaks volumes about being non-judgmental doesn’t it? The reading buddy was just far enough ahead of Harold to be of real value to him.

Because Harold’s reading buddy struggled so much with reading himself, he never ridiculed Harold about his struggles with reading.

Who would have guessed that such an unlikely pair would have made such a good reading pair?

The “take-home” lesson?

Low-cost reading buddies are worth their weight in gold!

Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

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“The flipped classroom infographic.” – Knewton

Friday, November 9, 2012. Today I am grateful for technology, even when it doesn’t work properly! 😮 – Doc Meek

To see the missing right half of the image below, click on this link:

Blended Learning

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Thank you, Knewton, for a first-class job of helping us all to understand the “flipped classroom” better! Maybe some of us could even start experimenting with using it, eh?

Doc Meek, Fri, Nov 9, 2012, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA







J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)

Your Trusted Learning-Teaching Guide

Seasoned Administrator and Finance Expert



CANADA: Dr. Meek (587) 400-4707, Edmonton, AB

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