Every year, I buy assessment books and every year, I end up with some that my children don’t use or don’t finish. At the end of last year, I decided to put an end to this by doing something which I do for #3 – lesson planning. You see, in order to keep track of what I should be teaching #3 and his progress, I plan out the daily/weekly lessons to do with him. For assessment books, I had been treating them like extra work for revision and did not have a systematic way to use them. On top of that, the kids would not take them out to do unless I ask them to and too often, I didn’t have the time to keep track. So, I figured : if I treat assessment books like actual lesson books to be done daily, I can at least keep track of what is being doing and ensure that they are used.
So I adapted what I did with #3 for the two older boys. I use the same template I use for lesson plans. Instead of the different subjects and “textbooks”, I listed down all the assessment books that I wanted them to finish. The system is so easy I wonder why I didn’t think of it earlier.
Basically, for each book, I counted the number of exercises and divided them into 10 weeks (per term) or 20 weeks (per semester) or 36 weeks (per school year minus the last month of exams). That gave me the number of exercises that the kid had to do per week. Depending on the situation, I may break it down smaller into days. I created a Master Plan template which is a table with 11 columns (for 10 weeks of a school term) and 12 rows. The number of rows depends on how many books are involved. I keyed in the exact name of the exercise or pages to be done for each book and week. When I wanted to specify to the day, what I did is something like this :
|Maths||M : Ex 1
W : Ex 2
F : Ex 3
This Master Plan helped me keep track of the amount of work done. The boys were given the plan and briefed about the work they should be doing each week. This helped to make things a little more autopilot and more systematic. When they finished the assigned work for the week, they would strikeout the exercises in the Master Plan. It also showed them how much work could accumulate if they did not consistently do their revision.
The other benefit of having this Master Plan is that it gives me a better idea of whether I am setting a realistic amount of work. As I mentioned in How to Buy Assessment Books, it is so easy for us to over buy, thinking that our children need every kind of assessment book. But once we list down the amount of work to be done in a week or a day this way, it becomes apparent whether our expectation is realistic or not. E.g. Suppose we expect an exercise to be done in 30 minutes minimum, if we assigned 5 exercises for a day, that would mean a minimum of 2.5 hours of revision spent on just working on assessment books. Some exercises will take a longer time to complete. So we are looking at at least 3 hours of work or more. If the child comes home at 2pm, spends 1 hour for washing up, lunch and rest, he will start work at 3pm earliest. 3 hours of assessment work will take him until 6pm. If the child still has school homework, tuition or other activities such as practising an instrument, this means that he will work non-stop until bed time, or have very late bed time. This is really not an ideal amount of work to set for home revision and we should look at reducing the amount of work from 5 exercises a day to perhaps 2 – 3 only. Without this Master Plan, it is easy to overlook this and set our expectation too high, leading to frustration and stress for both the parents and the kids.
Feel free to download the Master Plan for your use. It is in Word Document format so that you can edit and adapt to your needs. The left-most column is for the books. I use general titles as examples, but you should type in the actual titles of the books you are using so that it is clear to you and your kid exactly which books he is supposed to use.