If you are like most families who use an online school, your kids sometimes get a little behind in their school work.
Why? Because life happens. You have to take someone to a doctor’s appointment. You go on a field trip to connect with other families. Your child needs extra time to learn a challenging concept.
Or sometimes your kids just aren’t feeling motivated to get the work done.
Whatever the cause, when you find that your child has fallen behind, there are some tricks of the trade for catching up. They call for effective use of your time and highly efficient learning. Here’s what I mean.
Skip all of the optional lessons. Virtual schools don’t always make it clear that you can do this. Look for a place in your online school like a check box or something that will let you skip the lesson or somehow take it off of the schedule. I used to do this weekly. I would go through the next week’s scheduled lessons and skip all optional lessons. It was a great time saver.
Evenings, Weekends, and Holidays
You probably did an amazing job creating a schedule that seems perfect for getting everything done, but then life happens. That’s when you have to use a little bit of your time in the evenings or on holidays and weekends to get caught up. I know it’s not fun to use that time to do work, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet to get the job done. You can tell your kids I said that when they complain.
You can sometimes skip science experiments. Check with your teacher’s guide first, though, to see if you can do this. Some experiments are required. You’ll also want to take a peek at the lesson assessment to find out if your child needs any information from the experiment to pass.
Skipping experiments isn’t something that I would do very often. Kids usually love to do them. Plus they are a very beneficial tool for learning because they are hands-on and show kids some of the steps to the scientific method.
Some art projects take place over two or three days. Try squeezing those into one day if you can to save time.
Another time saver I’ve used is to do the unit assessment for art on the same day you complete the last lesson for the unit. Or, if there is a unit review, do the review lesson on the same day as the assessment.
I’ll fill you in on a little secret, the first lesson in a math unit is sometimes a review of material learned from previous years. Because of that, you can save time by just talking over the material with your child. If she is confident with it, let her take the assessment. If she passes, move on to the next lesson.
The number of problems assigned in a math lesson is usually a guideline. While I believe that practice makes perfect, I also believe that you can sometimes cut back a little on the number of problems. Generally speaking, if there are a lot of review problems on a concept your child knows well, just have her do a few. Then she can spend more time working on the problems that focus on the new concept presented in the lesson.
When I needed to really cut back on the number of math problems for an assignment because of a shortage of time, I usually had my kids do the hardest problems.
I’m such a mean mom, I know.
Actually, my reasoning behind it is that if they could do the hardest problems successfully, they probably had learned the material. This system usually worked well when we were short of time.
You don’t always have to do every activity in a Reading lesson. Check out the objectives for the lesson and choose the activities that will help your child achieve them. You can also discuss the some of the questions orally instead of making your child write the answers in the student guide. This can be a big time saver.
Grammar is like math. You can reduce the number of problems. I sometimes let my kids do odds or evens. If they mastered the objectives and passed the assessment, we moved on. If they didn’t, together we went back over some of the problems that they hadn’t completed yet.
History can be discussed orally like Reading sometimes. While you can’t reduce the amount of reading in the text book or online lesson, you can sometimes reduce the amount of work in the student guide. Look at the objectives to decide what you should or shouldn’t take out.
Block Scheduling and Party Days
Block scheduling can help you with catching up. That is where you do only a few subjects in one day, but do a ton of lessons in those subjects.
If you are really behind in just one subject, you could spend one day on just that subject, but in a fun way. I know, you are probably wondering how you could possibly make something like math fun for your math-hating child. I have one of those. Here’s my secret. Have a party day. If math is what your child is behind in, have a math party day. Find some fun math games and activities to throw in with the regular lessons. I have some suggestions for math games here: Make Memorizing Math Facts More Fun. They will help break up the monotony.
One time saving trick that we have used for all subjects was to do the unit review and assessment on the same day. I love combining two days into one like that. Makes me want to dance for joy.
Another time saver we’ve used is to bring along school work in the car when we went to appointments or field trips. We have own little “mobile school” for this. You can find more information about it here:
Our “Mobile School”.
When my kids were less than motivated to get extra work done, I’ve offered incentives. One summer when my youngest daughter was working ahead on Algebra, she found herself losing momentum. I offered to buy her a Barnes and Noble Nook book for every unit that she completed. She loved the idea and, thanks to the Nook books, completed the lessons she needed to. Mission accomplished. Thanks B&N.
Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself and your kids for getting extra work done. You deserve it.
What are your ideas for getting extra work done in your online school? I would love to hear them in the comment section.