Unfortunately, the pace of classroom learning can’t be tailored to every student’s individual needs — particularly these days, as class sizes are growing and funding for special enrichment programs becomes limited. In fact, at least 35 states provided less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession.
Many children will need to spend some time outside the classroom going beyond their regular homework to keep up or get ahead in school. No matter what your child’s education goals are, there are great ways you can help make this school year the best one yet:
• Math practice: Square roots, polynomials, quadrilaterals. Learning these terms and concepts can get dicey quickly. Keeping up at home is important, and sometimes requires more than just doing the day’s take-home assignment.
Consider supplementing homework with online tools. For example, Shmoop, an online learning and test prep provider, provides free study guides for review and courses for remedial work in many academic topics, including social science, arts and music, science and English. Their math tutorials cover everything from Pre-Algebra to Calculus and the step by-step explanations that the program offers can be helpful to any student looking for an extra edge.
• Read the classics: Kids who read for pleasure can improve their grades. Not only will the exposure to literary giants like John Steinbeck, Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe build vocabulary and improve reading comprehension, there is much to be learned about history and culture from picking up a great book, such as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
Be sure to use tools that can help clarify some of the denser material. Online learning guides can be a great place to get synopses and analysis.
• Use flashcards: It may sound quaint, but there is really no substitute for quizzing yourself with a flash card. Even the act of creating the flashcard can help reinforce concepts and facts.
• Extra Help: A little extra academic help after school can sometimes mean the difference between struggle and success. But between school and soccer practice, ballet lessons and getting dinner on the table, adding a tutor or after school class to the list might be a logistical impossibility.
Consider online courses that can be completed from the comfort of home and are common core aligned. For example, Shmoop’s offerings are diverse, ranging from 7th grade math to second semester 12th grade British Literature. For those students taking Advanced Placement courses this fall, check out their AP test prep courses. These courses help students nail the important, for-credit, year-end exam. More information can be found at www.Shmoop.com.
With a bit of extra effort and the use of savvy learning tools, kids can gain a competitive edge this school year.