Eight ways to waste time in the classroom: A child's view

When the task is too difficult, and you’re scared to ask for help

It’s never easy to expose your vulnerability to the rest of the class, especially if you have ADHD. You don’t want the teacher finding out that you haven’t been paying attention, as it could result in a telling off. Avoidance strategies are a priority in this situation but can be difficult in the confines of a classroom. If the teacher refuses you permission to go to the bathroom, there are a several timewasting tactics to use as a last resort. Below are some personal examples I remember from my own childhood.

1. Volunteering to hand out the worksheets: This can make you look kind and virtuous while at the same time, wasting a good minute or two before settling into the task.

2. Sharpening your pencil: This involves a slow walk to the bin, sometimes a good few metres away from the teacher’s desk. This is a timely chore which, if lucky, can take several attempts if the lead keeps falling out. To waste additional seconds, you can always make a mess of the pencil shavings and insist on tidying up after yourself.

3. Copying your neighbours answers: This obviously depends on the good will of your classmate. They are not always so becoming, especially the immature possessive types. The next best thing is to spend ages writing the date, title and drawing the margins on the side of the page. After this, you can always waste more time by writing down all the questions in your exercise book to delay facing the eventual torture of having to answer them.

4. Erasing your answer because it’s not neat enough: If the teacher is too close for comfort, then you can always pretend to be occupied in a work-related task. If you don’t know the answers, then you can always make up an answer and spend a good minute obsessively rubbing it out with your eraser.

5. Taking apart your pen to replace the ink cartridge: If you’re brave enough, you can go all in and make a great mess in the process. This is the perfect opportunity to request permission to go to the bathroom and wash your hands.

6. Shuffling books inside your bag by pretending to look for stationery: Other forms of fidgeting include; peeling off the label from your water bottle, cleaning your glasses repetitively with a microfibre cloth, arranging stationery on your desk and playing with your calculator.

7. Pretending to finish off work from a previous lesson: It is sometimes worth playing the idiot and showcasing to the teacher your earnest commitment to finishing off a task from the previous lesson.

8. Staring out of the window: The trick here is to make it look as though you’re thinking about the work. This can be particularly stimulating if there’s an outside view of wildlife or pedestrians. It’s a great opportunity for the inattentive to sink into some casual daydreaming or personal introspection.