1, 2, Skip a Few, 99, 100

“Mom, do I have to finish all twenty of these problems? They’re all the same! I did these on Monday and on Tuesday; now you want me to do twenty more?” Well… She does have a point!

In the past, I have been a stickler for making my kids finish all their school work. It didn’t matter if they knew these problems inside and out, or that they had been doing them for days on end; if the book assigned it, we did it.

This year, I am changing things up a little bit. Instead of forcing our kids to work every single problem, I am going to offer a little incentive.

If, and that’s a big if, the kids can handle all new work in a given section without complications or help from mommy, I’ll reduce their workload the remainder of that week. For example: Monday they learn a new theory in arithmetic. There are twenty-five problems to accompany this new concept, ensuring the idea is thoroughly driven into their little minds. If all those problems are done correctly, then on Tuesday I will only make them do fifteen. For the remainder of that week, I will continue to check their work and, barring any complications, continue to keep their repetitive exercises to a bare minimum. Rather than do those twenty-five problems every day for the rest of the week, we will keep them at the steady fifteen.

What happens if they don’t understand the lesson or need continual help? No worries. We will work through them together until they are able to do them on their own. The next day, all twenty-five problems will need to be completed, this time without help. They will continue to do all the exercises until they are able to work them without any assistance and the work is correct. Once they attain this goal, the following day will be reduced.

One of the things I really enjoy about our curriculum choice is that no matter the new lesson being learned, previous lessons are being reviewed on a daily basis. It might only be one of that problem, but a review there will be! When it comes to these “reviews”, I will not reduce the amount of work being done, especially as there is usually only one of each type (addition, subtraction, fractions, measurement, and so on). Only the new lesson, with mass amounts of repetition will be cut back.

So, what happens if they miss a problem on the review section? Oooooo…. Look out! Mommy will whip out some handy-dandy review sheets with loads of practice problems just so they can refresh their memories. (chuckling) Thankfully, this doesn’t happen. The kids are really great about grasping new concepts and, given a day or two of practice, are usually breezing through their work without a fuss.

On occasion, I make them do all the work on the page. I want my children to understand that less work is a blessing. When they get into higher education, their instructors might not be this kind and I don’t want them expecting an easier work load. In this they are also learning not to complain about the amount of work given. If they get less, great. If they get it all, no fussing. You fuss; tomorrow you get the same just to teach you to be grateful and to work without complaining.

As I mentioned though; they are pretty good about not arguing. (Okay; they might take a moment to breathe deeply, but then they push on.)

For now this works for us. Our learning day is accomplished in much better time and the kids are not getting quite so frustrated with all the unending repetition. I like being able to lighten the load where I can, but on occasion they need to be reminded…

“Repetition is good for a developing brain.” – Jimmy Neutron

12 thoughts on “1, 2, Skip a Few, 99, 100

  1. I think you’re definitely right to let them skip the repetitive exercises when they know the material. I was a smart kid, but I always hated school because of all the repetition we were forced to do. I did the work, mind you, but I resented adults for making me do it when I knew very well that there were more important–and more interesting–things I could be devoting my time to.


  2. Good idea. We did this a lot in math (but the concept applies to all learning situations). The idea is to teach to mastery of concepts and then move on. My daughter’s math (Math-U-See) would have three workbook pages on the new concept and then three or four pages on that concept and review on previous concepts. I always had her do two pages on the new concept and if she got it, she could skip the last new concept page and only do the review questions. This worked very well. She is now finishing up geometry and doing well in math, although it isn’t her favorite subject. (We still use Math-U-See.) I wouldn’t say that she is an “intuitive” math person, but she Is solid and will be starting Algebra II soon. With Math or whatever subject was being taught, I decided that it is important not to discourage your child but to preserve the urge to learn that God created in them.


  3. We do this in math a lot. We work online and they had a teach, then a reteach which he always skipped. As an auditory learner he said the reteaching was overkill and confusing not helpful. He would move on and prove he knew it , so he never did the reteach. He is very happy to have moved up to Algebra where there is no reteaching. Still there are days where there are lots of problems on a worksheet that are the same and he skips a few now and then when the mood strikes him. This beginning is all stuff he learned already but think that will change as we move forward further into it. I love that I get to decide what works for him and what meets his needs. Since we began homeschooling with middle school, I am very aware of how much time he spent daydreaming and tuning out the teacher who was overteaching. Something he didn’t tell me until homeschooling. Custom making an education for him is amazing it and I am loving year 3!


  4. I do the same. It’s great to have tons of problems in the books we use though, for those chapters that don’t click right away. We use JumpMath (a Canadian collection), and I find that they do a LOT of review of previous years concepts before getting to the new stuff, a little too much at times, so we usually do problems until Chris gets five right in a row, or until I am satisfied that he really knows his stuff. Then we move on.


  5. Pingback: Fill In The Blanks | A Homeschool Mom

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