Courses and Time Commitments

In high school, college, and graduate school students need to take a realistic look at the time commitments that are required for courses.

At the high school level regular courses require from 30-60 minutes of daily homework and learning. Honors courses require from 60-90 minutes of daily homework and learning. AP courses require 90-120 minutes of daily homework and learning. The times may fluctuate, but the course requirements are still expected to be met. Honors courses move at a faster pace than do regular courses. AP courses move at an even faster pace. The AP courses are equivalent to college level courses taught at the high school level.

At the college and graduate school level it is best to plan 2 hours for every credit hour to complete the homework and learning. So if a course is worth 4 credits, then the student can expect to do 8 hours of work outside of class. So someone who is taking 16 credit hours can expect to do 32 hours of work outside of class. 16 plus 32 equals 48 hours. Place that into a calendar and see how it feels!

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Phone: 310-720-0390.

Learning – What the Teacher Does not Assign!

Teachers announce when tests will be given. They tell their students to study. What they do not give are daily assignments for learning the information, vocabulary and concepts.

It is up to each student to manage his/her learning. Students should write a learning assignment for themselves in addition to doing homework assignments. Learn does not mean simply look over. It means that the student must put information into memory so it can easily be retrieved on a test. Students need to learn the information so well that they can teach it to somebody else using their own words.

Learning as a unit is being taught, helps the student be more ready for a test than any other activity possible. Break down the vocabulary- divide it into a few for each day. Break down the concepts – divide them into a few for each day.

Reviewing class notes on a daily basis is one activity that can be done to get true learning to take place. This also helps students to know if their notes are complete and if they make sense.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Phone: 310-720-0390.

Learn vs. Memorize

Students try very hard to memorize facts, definitions and concepts. They may spend a lot of time doing the memorization and then not do well on a test. Why?

Memorizing information does not mean that the student truly understands the material. For example – take a 3×5 index card. Write the vocabulary word on the front. Then on the other side, copy the definition directly from the textbook. The textbook definition may not have meaning to the student but the student knows the definition words must be memorized for the test. Then when a student gets to the test and the information is used with different words other than the ones the student memorized, there is confusion and the student cannot answer the question.

When a student truly learns a vocabulary word, the student should be able to discuss he meaning of the word and give examples. A suggestion is- on the reverse side of the card where the definition has been carefully copied- take a highlighter and highlight the words that are truly needed for the definition. Cut out the extraneous words. Add pictures, diagrams or charts to the card. A student should practice explaining the vocabulary word or concept by teaching it to someone else- maybe a parent.

The student should plan the time for learning this way. The learning should be done daily. The number of words and concepts should be spread over the days where learning can take place. This should happen in advance of the day of the test.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Phone: 310-720-0390.

A Writing Sequence

Where to start? Most students experience the frustration of not knowing where to begin in writing assignments. Planning is the solution.

When thinking about a topic, it is a good idea to make a bullet note list of thoughts. The thoughts do not have to be sequential and they do not have to be related. This is capturing random thoughts about the topic. Instead of evaluating each thought that comes to mind, make a list. Just let the thoughts flow. After the flow of thoughts stops, it is time for the next step.

Organize the notes. They could be labeled in simple mathematical signs such as 1,2 3, etc. This is used for the order in which the thoughts are going to be used to write. Thoughts could be given categories and labeled with A,B and C. Then all the thoughts in the A category can be sequenced with numbers for the order.

Sometimes it is necessary to take an empty page and just fill it with thoughts. Put various shapes around the thoughts. Then sequence them.

Planning written responses in short answer and essay answer questions on tests is important. The planning can be very short. The result is that the student has specific ideas to write about and can have a well constructed answer.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Phone: 310-720-0390 Website:

Homework Amounts

Homework amounts vary by grade level and by course content. Homework itself is something that all students and families struggle with and achieve varying degrees of success.

At the elementary level for grades 1-3, homework should be about 30 minutes and add reading for another 20 minutes. For grades 4-6 homework should be about 60 minutes and add another 30 minutes for reading. For grades 7 and 8 homework should be about 90 minutes and add another 30 minutes for reading.

At the high school level, the amount of homework depends upon the course load a student is taking. For regular courses homework will be about an hour for each course. For honors courses homework will be about 1.5 hours per course. For AP courses homework will be about 2 hours per course.

Have you student begin doing the learning or study work needed for courses. Then the homework should begin with the most pressing, mst difficult courses.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Email: Phone: 310-720-0390.

Missing Assignments

Missing assignments plague students in grades 3-12. When a student is absent, it is the responsibility of the student to find out what needs to be completed.

In the upper grades, missing assignments are often marked with zeroes which really hurts a student’s grade point average for a class.

Train your student to understand that completing missed work is important. Making up tests is also vital. Help your student to take the tests as soon as possible after a return to school.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Email: Phone: 310-720-0390.

Talking in Class

Talking in class by students at times that are not appropriate is a long standing problem. It is important for students – of all ages- to understand when the time to talk is correct and when it is not.

Students who talk continually are a problem for teachers. These students distract others and do not absorb the content of the lesson. In addition to that, the talking is rude.

It is important to impress upon your student when talk is acceptable and when it is not. Frequently students will talk to other students when they are not understanding the lesson and are looking for clarification. A student should learn to speak directly to the teacher for clarification.

If the student is chatty and is using class time to socialize, it is vital that the student learn to keep his/her mouth shut. Teachers feel that this type of student is being rude and disrespectful of them.

Questions? Contact Beth Silver. Phone: 310-720-0390.