Dear Teacher -- It is important to make up missed lessons

Q: My son who is in middle school has been sick quite a lot this year, making him fall behind in his schoolwork. Every time he is ill and absent from school, he is completely inundated with work in every subject when he returns to school. He has all the current assignments to complete on top of finishing up the missing work. Is it really essential for him to make up all the schoolwork that he missed in class during the time he was sick? — Catching-Up

A: Classes are organized in such a way that each day a certain amount of new material is usually presented and expected to be mastered within a certain number of lessons. There is also review work that helps children learn recently presented lessons. Furthermore, in some classes, it is absolutely essential for current material to be mastered so future lessons can be handled. This is especially true in math and science classes. For this reason, it is important for children to make up at least part of most missed lessons. Textbook chapters almost always need to be read. Failing to make up key materials can lead to difficulties in mastering new materials as well as poor test scores.

Making up work can be easier if the children get the daily assignments from their school while they are still at home. Call your son's school and make arrangements to get his work so that he will have more of it completed before returning to school. In some schools, teachers make this easy by putting daily assignments online.

You need to talk to your child's teachers, especially if his illnesses stop him from doing much of his schoolwork at home. A plan needs to be devised that will help him stay as current as possible when he misses school, without drowning him in work on his return.

Readers: This week is jammed with events. First of all, it is National TV Turnoff Week. Earth Day is today, and Arbor Day is Friday. Teachers in your children's classrooms may be introducing activities for some of these events for you to do at home with your children.


Why don't you introduce activities for your family centering around Arbor Day? This 135-year-old holiday has not received the attention that the other events have. And what you do to celebrate this holiday will tie in nicely with turning off the TV and celebrating Earth Day.

Traditionally, the idea behind Arbor Day was to have a special day set aside for tree planting. Recently, other ideas have been included in the celebration. Communities and organizations may organize public beautification projects, have concerts with songs about trees or organize a paper drive to save trees. Try to take part in one of these events.

At home, your children can view the enjoyable "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown" video and learn about preserving green space. Plus, your children can learn the names of the trees in your yard or on your street. And, of course, your family can plant a tree.

Send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of the Post-Bulletin, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395; log on to; or e-mail:

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