Making Mistakes Well

I often find myself telling my students that one of the most important things that they can learn in school is how to make mistakes well. At first, this might seem a little counter-intuitive—Really, Miss G? Mistakes?

The truth is that no matter how hard we try, we are all going to make mistakes and errors from time-to-time…even teachers do! Knowing how to learn from one’s mistakes and how to deal with setbacks without being paralyzed can be incredibly difficult, but it is a valuable life skill.

I’ve noticed in the past few years that more and more students seem to struggle with anxiety or anxious thoughts, and feel very overwhelmed when they don’t score well on a multiple choice test, or when they have to make revisions on an essay, or perhaps they have fallen behind. Sometimes, there’s a tendency to avoid the work entirely, something that usually compounds the problem. Instead, we try to help students work through mistakes and setbacks, hopefully allowing them to see these as opportunities for growth.

Here are some tips that can help you “make mistakes well”:

  1. Reframe. When a student sees a poor grade on an assignment, their first instinct is often, “I’m stupid, I don’t get this and never will.” This is especially common on multiple-choice tests, and can lead to a feeling of defeat.At CEA, we try to encourage students to remember that a quiz or test grade is only one measure of learning, and not always the best one. A low grade only means that there is some gap in understanding—it’s just a matter of finding the gap and helping students to bridge it! 🙂 Since we are a mastery-based program, this is a key goal for us as teachers. We work with students to revise work to help put the focus on real learning and not just a test score. We also try to have different types of assessments, such as projects or essays in addition to multiple-choice tests, so that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
  2. Review and Revise. When a mistake is made, it’s important to figure out exactly what happened in order to prevent making that error in the future. Finding past mistakes and fixing them can help solidify a deeper understanding of concepts.At CEA, we help students with this process in a few different ways. With math assignments, we often ask to see “scratch work”, so that we can help students figure out where the mistake is. Sometimes, it might just be a small error that threw off the final answer! We also try to encourage students to practice this skill by checking their own work and hopefully catching errors before they submit things! In other classes, it might be a matter of making notes on an assignment or helping students address concepts they need to learn a little more fully.

    This is also a practice we constantly engage in ourselves. Every year as a school, we look at survey data and other feedback; then we make goals to constantly improve what we do as a school. The ability to look at one’s work and find ways to continuously grow is a valuable life skill that can be applied in multiple contexts.

  3. Regain Confidence. The final key is remembering that none of us is perfect. Making a mistake or error from time to time is inevitable. The goal is to not allow our mistakes to paralyze us, but to figure out how to address the error and move forward confidently. Our goal is to support students in this process, and to be a resource for them to help them grow and learn both content and important life skills.

Online homeschooling – Drawbacks and Benefits

As an administrator for a small, Christian online homeschool program, one of the biggest drawbacks for students is the potential for isolation and limited peer social interaction. While learning online creates tremendous learning advantages, and overall, outweighs potential drawbacks of isolation, being proactive in creating a social environment can really help your child. At CEA, we encourage students to complete many online activities, including competitive sports, team sports, dance, joining a gym, gymnastics or taking up a martial art, getting involved with a homeschool co-op, taking advantage of community events, etc.

Get creative. There are many local homeschool co-ops, both in small towns and cities. Many of these groups use outside academic avenues, but children of all ages come together for common, social interaction and events. Homeschool groups often travel together for fiend trips and other social activities. In addition, many homeschool groups have specialized tutors for difficult topics such as science labs and math help for a student that may need one-one-one interaction from time to time. CEA’s curriculum is an excellent program, but we recognize that some children may need more support.

Go to your community library for support. Many libraries have resources and programs that can keep any student engaged. Often, libraries will have series of educational opportunities, and sometimes CEA can give extra credit for these assignments. Broaden the horizon of learning, outside the computer. Connect outside of cell phones, Ipads, and computers.

Another way to connect socially is through church youth groups and missions teams. Many of CEA’s online high school students collect support, pray and participate in planning and going on a mission trip. Credit can be earned for the full participation of a mission trip by writing a 500 word essay. Students can also participate in good old fashioned letter writing and pen pal writing to students in another country. We encourage students to make postcards and to write about things that are important to them.

While there are a few drawbacks to online high school education, there is a rising number of homeschoolers across the country and the world that are choose online education because the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, including:

  • Flexibility, where students can access course information anywhere, anytime, and work at their own pace around their social endeavors.
  • Choices, where students are able to choose from a wide range of courses, including honors, Advanced Placement courses, and unique, fun electives.
  • Academic enrichment, where students not only learn, but develop strong time management skills that will help them in college.

Getting ahead with an online high school

While many students in high school take online classes to “catch up”, having to take credits they may be “short” on to graduate, CEA encourages high school students take courses to “get ahead.” CEA’s Gradpoint summer school program allows students 8 weeks to finish one course, working as little as 3 hours online per day. Some students can work much quicker, some may need additional time, all built into a schedule that works for you. CEA’s courses are flexible, where students can enroll anytime, and finish a course to recover a credit, or get ahead in their educational graduation plan.

Taking high school online courses in the summer can be completed anywhere as long as you have a computer, and access to the internet. CEA provides a low cost option to complete a course over the summer. Instead of being tied to your local school and taking a class everyday over the summer, an online course can travel with you wherever you go. Because CEA is a fully accredited online high school, your credits will transfer back to your local public school. Sometimes, students are encouraged by their ability to be successful online, and transfer to CEA to finish their high school education. Here is a testimony from a student who stays with their grandparent:
“With CEA, our granddaughter was about to finish her 9th grade year, and her grades are better than ever! We especially appreciate the easy on-line format which eliminates the need for books, and the flexibility of the scheduled work. Also, we are able to get ahead and to take time off whenever we need it. The teachers and staff have been very responsive and stepped in with additional one-on-one tutoring when needed. Thanks CEA for a great Christian education!”
– S. Baker

With CEA’s online high school courses, students can take a math, science, history, or English course, as well as trying out unique electives such as criminology, cosmetology, or archeology! Students who attend online summer school programs can develop better note-taking and time management skills, as well as learning important content for a successful transition to high school or college.
Other benefits from taking an online high school course this summer are:

  • Cost – CEA offers a full credit course for $500, including teacher support.
  • Recovery- Credit recovery, with prescriptive learning courses. Students easily move on within the subject where they show proficiency, only focusing on problematic areas.
  • Transition- Taking a course to help junior high students transition to high school.
  • Advancement- taking a course to graduate early or skip ahead to a higher-level course.

Taking an online high school course is a win-win situation for any student in high school, for both the student who is struggling, and for the high-achieving student. An online summer school course will also allow students to see if online schooling is a good option for them, especially since many colleges now, use online learning.

Mrs. Z
BA Theology/Admin

Finishing Strong in an Online School

Do you remember the first time you ever ran a race?  Perhaps it was with a childhood friend down the street to the nearest stop sign or oak tree.  If you’re anything like me, you started out with a burst of energy that seemed like it would last forever.  However, what most of us soon found out after that initial blast of vigor is that slowing down is inevitable.

As the end of a semester or school year approaches, similar thoughts may apply to your educational journey.  Many of us start out with the best of intentions, setting up routines and knocking out assignments.  Yet, somewhere along the way we often lose energy, or forget the reason why we started out so passionately to begin with.  If you find yourself weary as you approach the finish line, let this simple, three step process help guide you back to a place where you can reassess your objectives and hopefully find the motivation to, “Finish Strong!”

Step 1 – Remember and Revisit

I find this step very helpful when trying to rekindle the inspiration for personal goals I have set.  For example, I have recently taken on the endeavor to lose a few pounds that I have picked up over the last year.  Someone once said that, “Most good diets start on Monday, and are over in time for the weekend.”  I must say that I have to agree.  It’s so easy to start out with good intentions, but easier to lose sight of the objective all too soon.  For me, it is helpful to remember why I want to lose weight.  My health and quality of life is directly affected by my decision to continue.  For many students, the ultimate goal is to graduate and follow a path that will lead them to a career that they will enjoy as well as finding purpose in contributing to society.  So as it pertains to your current school situation, ask yourself this very important question: Why did I set this goal to begin with?  Do yourself a favor and write down the answer to this question on a piece of paper, and don’t forget to display it in an area where you will see it often!

Step 2 – Recharge and Refocus

Sometimes the stress and anxiety that school can bring gets us all in a state of mind that builds pressure and actually prohibits us from continuing effectively.  If this has happened to you, and you’ve been grinding so much that you just can’t take it anymore, I have one small piece of advice for you: Step away from the computer.  In other words, it’s time to take a break and find a way to relieve the stress so you can come back strong and ready for the task at hand.  Not sure how to do this?  Find a parent-approved activity that you really enjoy (movie time, visit with friends, fun book to read, etc.) and just dedicate some time to recharging.  You’ll come back refreshed and feel like you have been rewarded for your efforts.  Note: don’t spend too much time away.  Remember, this is meant to refocus you and give you energy towards getting back to achieving your goal!

Step 3 – Reignite and Resume!

Ok, so you remembered why you started, you took a little break to get your mind free of stress so you can come back focused, and now for the final step…Reignite and Resume until you finish!  Nothing and I do mean NO THING will make you feel better or more rewarded than seeing your goal completely finalized.  Set your sights on the finish line and put your heart into it! If you start to lose motivation during your last few assignments, don’t forget the piece of paper you wrote on during Step 1.  Most importantly, don’t forget some very important advice from Galatians 6:9: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Planning for the end of year in an online school

Now that Spring is upon us with longer days, and Easter and April 15th just past, now is the time to begin planning out the end of the school year.  If you are enrolled in an online high school or middle school with year-round enrollment, like Christian Educators Academy, for some of you the school year doesn’t end in the summer.  Here we should be careful to say “summer in the Northern Hemisphere” – June, July and August for our students in South America or elsewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.  However, 80-90% of our students follow a traditional academic calendar, with the school year starting sometime in August or September, depending on the state, and ending in May or June.  These students are entering the last month, or two months of their academic year.  For these students, now is the time to assess where you are in your academic progress.

The first step is to see where you stand in all your courses.  Look at your list of assignments, to see if you’re on schedule, ahead of schedule, or behind schedule in all of your courses.  There are many tools within the online curricula to help you do this, from graphs and reports to colorful progress indicators to simple summaries.  However the most comprehensive and best way to see this is just to look at the list of assignments and due dates, which compares assigned due dates to dates when assignments were actually turned in.  This list also shows if there are currently overdue assignments, and how many, typically these are shown in red.

If you are on schedule or ahead of schedule in all your courses, that is great news – you are on schedule to complete your online school on time and have a long, relaxing summer break doing your favorite activities, or just relaxing with your friends.  You might consider seeing if you can finish even earlier and giving yourself an even longer break, as long as this can be done comfortably.  The one thing you don’t ever want to do is rush assignments since learning the material properly is always important.

If you are behind in one or two courses, you may need to spend more time on them to catch up.  If you are more than 2-3 weeks behind in any course, you should contact your teachers to discuss the situation.  Your teachers can help you work out a solution.  You may need additional help, including hiring a local tutor, to help you get through the course.

If you are behind in all your courses, especially by more than 2-3 weeks, you definitely need to contact your teachers, and especially your homeroom teacher, to work out a solution.  Your teachers need to find out in detail exactly what caused you to get behind in order to arrive at an appropriate solution.  The best solution also depends on what you have accomplished and what you need to complete in order to graduate, and differs for every student.  In many cases, less important courses, such as electives, may need to be put aside so that the more vital courses – English and math in particular, but also science and history – can be completed.  All students have an option of working into and through the summer.  While this is not the ideal situation, it is an available option if needed.  You can discuss the details with your homeroom teacher or an administrator.  In some cases, this may require additional tuition to extend the enrollment term.

Planning the end of year is particularly important if you are a graduating senior this year.  Since it takes some time to prepare transcripts, diplomas and other records, you should plan on finishing all your courses at least two weeks before your intended graduation date, and at latest two weeks before the summer vacation, which starts July 1.  Graduating seniors should plan to have all courses completed by June 15th at the latest.  Seniors who miss this window may not receive their diplomas and transcripts until early to mid August, 1-2 weeks after CEA’s summer break ends.

Planning Your Weekly Schedule in an Online High School

One of the beauties of an online high school – or middle school – is that your weekly schedule of when you take courses is your own to plan.  But how exactly do you do that?  Here are some hints…

Set up your weekly plan

At the beginning of the semester, create a master weekly plan for yourself.  Block out the times  when you will study each course.  This could be different for each student, depending on their study habits.  Here are some possible ideas:

  • Every course every day: English 8 – 9, Math 9-10, Break, Science 10:30-11:30, Lunch, Social Studies 1-2, Electives 2-3
  • A different course each day:  Monday – English, Tuesday – Math, Wednesday- Science, Thursday – Social Studies, Friday – Electives
  • A half-day block schedule: Monday AM – English, PM- Math, Tuesday AM-Social Studies, PM – Science

Whatever plan you set-up, stick to it, treating your schoolwork just as you would any job.  Consistency and discipline are important.  If the student has trouble doing this, ask a parent or your homeroom teacher for help.

Set up your weekly plan

Before the beginning of each week, look at all your courses to see what assignments are due.  Christian Educators Academy sends each student a weekly planner.  The student and/or parent can use this to write down when assignments are due.  Remember, the rule is that assignments can be turned in any time in the week that they are due and still be on time.  Assignment due dates can be moved from Monday to Friday, or Thursday to Tuesday, without having to ask anyone’s permission.  This gives students and parents the freedom to work according to the weekly master schedule mentioned above.  At the end of each week, review your progress with your parent, to see where you are, and if you need to make any adjustments.

Work Ahead if You Can

If you find that you are able to finish a subject well within the allotted time, work ahead on the next lesson if you can.  This can be useful to buy a little time if you find that you are later falling behind in that subject or another subject.

If You Fall Behind…

It’s perfectly natural if occasionally there are one or two assignments that you have to leave to the next week, or else complete the following week.  If you’re ahead in a subject, you can borrow time from that subject for another subject that you’re falling behind in.  If you fall a week behind in all your subjects, especially if its due to a vacation or sickness, you can still easily catch-up by working a little harder – but at this point you have to work hard to catch up and not fall further behind.

If you find that you are working incredibly long hours in all your subjects, but still falling behind, that is a different problem we will talk about in a future blog.  But please let your home-room teacher or one of the other school administrators know right away if this is happening.

If you do get more than two weeks behind, there are ways to catch up as we mentioned in an earlier blog.  It takes planning and some discipline, but it can be done.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to always stay up to pace with the calendar.  Allowing yourself to slip off the calendar and ignore it is dangerous.  Even if initially you’re only a week or two behind, it is very easy to slip even further behind.

Know Your Priorities

Remember that English and Math always have the highest priority, since you need four years of each to graduate from High School.  Remember that whatever English class you’re in basically determines your grade.  Science and Social Studies are the second priority after Language and Math.  Electives and Foreign Language are the lowest priority.  If you find that you are getting behind in English or Math, you may have to re-balance your schedule to give more time to them, and less to the other subjects.

Don’t try to do just one subject at a time

Just focusing on one subject at a time quickly turns into a game of “Whack-a-mole”, where you’re always behind in something.  In general we recommend that students try to work in all subjects every week, but balance their time between subjects based on their strengths and weaknesses.  It’s OK to allocate a little more time to a subject that has higher priority or that you are struggling in, and a little less time to a subject that is easy for you, or that you are ahead in.

Of course, if you do get seriously behind in all subjects and are in danger of not completing any of them, your home-room teacher may recommend that you focus on just English and Math for a while.  Our goal is that none of our students get to this point.

Enjoy your success!

By properly setting up and managing your course schedule, you will find that you can easily complete your courses on time, with good grades, and have time during the week to do the other things outside of school that you value and enjoy.  More importantly, you will learn how to successfully manage your time, a skill which will be useful to you throughout your life in every endeavor.

Online Homeschooling – More Than One Child

As an administrator, I often receive calls with families with 3 or more children for online homeschooling.  It is important to consider that most children have vastly different learning styles, learning pace and attention spans.  Because of this, CEA recommends online homeschooling as an option for students in 6th through 12th grade.  We have a few advanced 5th graders who adjust quite well to the structure of online classes.

For most families, the challenge isn’t the curriculum, its finding the best way to manage online learning.  There is no perfect way to work with online curriculum but it is vital to have a schedule.  When working with more than one child, it is critical to have a space and place for each child.  They need their own computer, access to a quality scanner and printer, and set schedules to work.  At CEA, we also recommend setting certain days for each subject, that way, all children will be working on math, or English, etc…  This helps with interaction among siblings.  Often times they can help each other.

Online differs from regular homeschooling because most communication with teachers is via email.  Sometimes when questions are asked, it takes 24 hours to receive a response.  I find it a positive point with online, however, because children have to logically think about the question they are asking.  Sometimes when they formulate their question in the form of an email, they answer their own question.  Verbalizing their questions to other family members also helps then work more efficiently.

Here are my online homeschool suggestions:

  1. Make a learning plan and weekly schedule.
  2. Be flexible! Yes, children should be online 15-20 hours a week, but you can schedule field trips, physical education, art and music anytime.
  3. Make sure your children know how to ask good questions. Have them practice asking and writing questions.
  4. Have prayer and open learning discussion times throughout the day.
  5. Maintain a positive attitude. Work with the teachers.  Often there are other resources that can really help your children.  At CEA we offer substitute or additional lessons for students who need extra help.
  6. Work with your children, be a good coach, don’t just leave them on their own. Know how their online program works, have access to their ID and Passwords.  View what the teachers are communicating to your children, and what they are saying to their teachers.  With online schooling, some children need extra coaching from a parent, encouragement when they having a “melt down.”  It’s ok to stop working and engage your child in something they like, or move to a different subject.  Be creative~
  7. At CEA, we have specific homeroom teachers that will keep in contact with you, the parent. In addition, as a small school, you can call for questions Monday through Friday.  Keep informed and don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself!
  8. Have your children keep a notebook and a personal journal. Encourage them to make their own schedule choices and learn the art of scheduling and discipline of online learning.  It is a skill that will help them throughout their life.
  9. Be sure to let “kids be kids”, no matter what their age. They need time to relax, burn off extra energy and begin online again with a clear head.  At CEA we encourage start and end times for learning.
  10. There are many online homeschooling options to choose from. Choose one that will best fit your families’ needs, one that fully accredited, and gives you the most flexibility. Ask for multiple children discounts.

Online High School: Hints for planning the upcoming Spring Semester

You’ve made it through the Fall term of your online high school, and are now at the beginning of a new term.  Here are some helpful hints and guidelines to try to help you get through the upcoming Spring Semester.

First, realize that not all weeks are created equally.  Later in the Spring as the weather gets nicer, maintaining concentration and focus on school can be difficult for many people.  Take advantage of the upcoming winter weeks and months – when the weather is cold and you are less inclined to want to go out.  Take advantage of these weeks to get ahead in your schooling.  This way you can have a little more time when you want it.  Online school is ideal for this, because you can always work ahead of the schedule.  With online school, you are in control of the schedule; use that to your advantage.

Also be aware that many people have a hard time working before, during and after a Spring Break, either preparing to go, being away, or getting back into the swing of things.  It’s just human nature.  This is another reason – try to get as much done as you can now.  If you get behind now, it will be even more difficult to catch up over Spring Break, or as the weather becomes more pleasant.

Of course, we do advise people to develop consistency and discipline in their school work.  Develop a weekly schedule and be consistent in sticking to it.  Make sure you allocate time to all your courses every week, approximately 2-3 hours per course.  Math and English should always get the highest priority, followed by Science and History, then Language and electives.  If you do get behind, in general we don’t advise that you concentrate on just one or two subjects, ignoring all the others.  This tends to create a situation where you are constantly behind in something, or everything.  Increase the overall time you spend, allocating more to the higher priority subjects, as needed, but continuing to work in all the subjects.

If you do get behind in your assignments, create a plan to catch up in a reasonable amount of time – over several weeks.  We don’t expect you to exert super-human efforts to catch up.  Here is an example of a plan:

  • In each course, count the total number of overdue assignments, and divide that by 10.  So for example, if you have 30 overdue assignments in English, 30/10 = 3.
  • Each week, count the number of assignments that were due on the calendar that week.  Complete that many assignments from the front of your list, plus the number above.  So this week, if there were 5 assignments due, you would need to complete 5+3 = 8.
  • Doing this consistently, after 10 weeks, you will be caught up in English!  You will have to expend some extra effort to catch up – you might have to spend 5 hours instead of 3.  If you are behind in all your courses, you might have to work 25-30 hours a week to catch up instead of 20, maybe an extra hour or two a day.  The point is, this is reasonable.

Or course, it’s better to not get behind in the first place.  At CEA, we constantly monitor all student’s progress, and contact the student and parent as soon as we see that happening.  Of course, by the time a student gets two weeks behind, and we see that and contact you, the student could be 3 weeks to a month behind.  Here is how to avoid that:

  • If you’re a student and know you struggle with staying on pace, ask a parent to objectively look over and review your progress on a regular basis – typically once a week.  Ask them to log into your account and look over your assignments.
  • If you’re a parent, make it a disciplined habit to log into your student’s account and look over their progress once a week.  See if they are falling behind.  It’s also good of course to ask them how they are doing – but don’t rely on this solely.  Students often don’t realize they are behind, and some will misrepresent their progress.
  • If you’re an Apex student or parent, you will receive a progress report every week.  Read it.

If you need help understanding an Apex report or using the Gradpoint system, contact one of the administrators at CEA – we will be glad to walk you through how to use the tools that are available to you.

By following a disciplined plan, working ahead a bit and regular monitoring of your progress, you should be able to complete all your subjects on time, with no issues.  If you do get behind, there are ways to catch up.  It’s not the end of the world, but you should avoid this situation if you can.

Changing Schools Mid-Year

This is the time of year when many parents and students think about changing schools.  There are many reasons for thinking about such a change:

  • Student just transitioned to a new school in the fall that isn’t working.
  • Bullying and peer-pressure.
  • Current curriculum isn’t working
  • Student is starting new activities and needs more flexibility in their schedule.
  • Recent diagnosis of a medical condition which will interfere with regular school attendance.

Christian Educators Academy (CEA) has an admissions process that makes these transitions easy.  The documentation requirements are simple, and registration can be done in a day.  We have payment plans that make the tuition affordable.  We offer a combination of unique advantages that make CEA attractive to families considering a transition:

  • We are fully accredited by Advanc-ED and SACS.
  • Students can enroll in CEA at any time of the year.
  • We are extremely flexible in how classes are scheduled – we can schedule your classes around individual preferences and needs.
  • We are a small school with limited enrollment – we get to know all of our students personally.
  • With our new homeroom process, all students have a mentor who regularly monitors their progress and keeps them and their parents informed.
  • For students who enroll in January, we offer the choice of two curriculum – Apex and Gradpoint.  After January, we still offer open enrollment in Gradpoint to all new students.
  • We give credit for any previous work that has received credit from an accredited school on an official transcript from that school.  Schools generally award credits for completed semesters of work.  In Florida, in high school, each completed semester receives a half-credit.  For middle school courses, we just need a report card showing completed semesters of work.
  • We also have a method for awarding credit to students coming out of a homeschool through our Curriculum Director.  The curriculum used and grades received needs to be submitted along with samples of work completed, and this is reviewed by the Curriculum Director for suitability.
  • While we cannot award credit for partially completed semesters from another school, we do try to work with students who have partially completed semesters.  This is done on a case-by-case basis.  Call our business office for more details.
  • We do offer the flexibility of allowing students to start their whole year over, and can offer the flexibility of either trying to complete the year by August/September so that they can start the following year at the normal time, or taking a whole year to complete the work.  Students who want to start their whole year over are usually enrolled in the Gradpoint curriculum because of its flexibility.

By enrolling in Christian Educators Academy, you can be assured that your child will receive a high-quality education from caring professionals, using the best college-preparatory curriculum available, and that any work they complete at CEA will be documented on an accredited diploma.  If you are interested in making a transition, please e-mail or call our business office today to discuss your options.

Online home schooling and the holidays

Online Home schooling and the Holidays

This is the time of year when students and parents ask us about working over the holidays.  Leading up to this, some students have gotten seriously behind in multiple classes, with perhaps 20 or more assignments overdue in some classes.  This year we instituted a new Homeroom process to warn students and parents right away when there is a problem.  This has greatly reduced incidents, and has greatly helped to mitigate the issue in most cases long before the Holidays arrive, but still there are a few cases of behind students.

What we find is that students and parents tend to over-focus on the Holidays as a solution to the problem of having over-due assignments.  A typical semester-long high school course is designed to be done over an 18-week period, with a moderate amount of effort, 3 hours or so, every week.  Although people commonly think that “I’ll catch up over Thanksgiving, or the Holidays”, really we are just talking about a few days, or maybe a week or two, that is also being used for traveling, shopping, special meals, family events, other activities and perhaps worship services.   The time that is really available for doing schoolwork may only be a few hours or a couple of days.

To make an analogy, if we think of the normal pace as say, walking a mile in an hour, which for many people is quite reasonable, trying to compress a month or two of work into a few days is the same pace a as 4- or 6-minute mile.  Most students simply do not have the ability to successfully work at that pace.

Another way to look at it is that the 4 days of Thanksgiving is really just 3% of an 18-week semester and even the two weeks at Christmas is just 11% of an 18-week semester.  Parents and students who think that they will complete 25% or more of a course during that time are not being realistic.  The other problem is over-focus on Holiday periods as the end-all solution to the problem.  Parents and students don’t effectively use the 18 or 20 weeks already built into the school schedule, and instead hyper-focus on the really small amount of time that the Holidays represent.

Everyone needs some time away from work and school to relax and have fun, relate to family and friends and to reflect.  Weekends and holidays exist for a reason.  The best and healthiest approach to life acknowledges and incorporates periods of rest, with the understanding that these are necessary for the health of the individual, and also help us to improve our effectivity and performance when we do work.

Although Christian Educators allows Gradpoint students to work over the holidays, we don’t strongly advise it, and we don’t push it.  If a student has some extra time on their hands and they want to use it for school, fine, but not at the expense of spending time with family or having time relax and enjoy life.  On the other hand, with our Apex curriculum because it involves teacher involvement on a weekly basis, in order to allow our teachers a break to spend time with their families, we have to stop all access to the curriculum for a two week period at Christmas, and a 3 week period in July.  Every year we receive requests from parents to grant “special” access for their child.  Unfortunately, in Apex, without continuous teacher support, students can’t progress.  Having even a few students working means that teachers get no break, and this is simply unfair to the teachers.  For that reason, we do not allow access to anyone in Apex over that period.  And even though we clearly stipulate that in our contracts and communications, every year we inevitably get requests from parents for exceptions.

The real answer for students who are running behind is to help them figure out how to use the time they do have more effectively – whether it be looking at overcoming motivational issues, working on skills like study habits, note-taking, test-taking and time-management.  By learning how to use the time more effectively in the 18 weeks per semester that they do have, we can increase student performance to a much greater degree with much less effort than focusing on a few days or hours.