If you follow a traditional school year calendar and think in quarterly increments, this 3rd quarter presents a unique opportunity to “git-er-done.” You don’t have the start up factor, the holiday interruptions or the slide to the finish that comes at the end of the year. This can be a time to tackle something meaty that you may have been putting off (Shakespeare?).

Of course, this particularly productive 3rd quarter academic bubble may not be relevant to your dynamic. Perhaps your “bubble” happens at another time of year. If you are in a colder climate, like we are in Illinois, being inside right now and working on the books is more appealing. For those of you with hot summers, perhaps that is your time for the tough subjects or big projects. Regardless of the actual time in the year, “the bubble” presents an opportunity, make the most of it. When I was teaching high school French, third quarter was when we would read Voltaire’s novel Candide, memorize poems by Rimbaud and Apollinaire, work on some tough literary grammar, and generally hunker down. As a parent, maybe this is your time to take on something you keep bumping to the end of the line. Again, I think of Shakespeare. Sorry Bard, but you can be intimidating!

How do you make the most of this time? Think of your specific students and their needs. Do they need to work on reading comprehension? Cursive? Writing essays? Fractions? Perhaps something has been a troublesome topic, but you kept moving forward anyway hoping it would resolve itself, but it hasn’t. This is the chance to wade in deep and spend the time honing that skill.

Wading in to topics doesn’t have to mean drudgery. You can focus on a task and have fun with it too. Use those extra hours of cooped up time to do activities or play learning games that focus on specific skills or knowledge. If your child needs to build reading comprehension skills, play Comprehension Blast Off or Oddly Obvious, or better yet, have the kids make up a game show about a book they have read. Practice cursive with thank you or thinking of you notes to family, but try using calligraphy markers instead of pens and pencils. Fractions giving you fits? Try Pizza Fraction Fun or Fractions Dominoes. Want to introduce new vocabulary words and terms? Play games like Rummy Roots or Classwords for kids that use the same words again and again in their writing. Go hands-on in your elementary science with a Magic School Bus or Home Science Adventures kit.

Now is also the time for in-depth projects, to spend time in researching and exploring. Investigate those science topics, for example, and fine tune experiment lab notebooks like this one for high school students. Maybe start a project, like a research paper, with your older students at this time when you can work through the steps methodically.

Think of working on test prep for “Bubble Time” too: ACT, SAT, GED, and grade level state exams. These often happen in April, so starting in January with your test practice will keep you from cramming right before exams. Find a test prep book and use it as a checklist. You can look at Spectrum Test Prep or Scoring High. Take an inventory and see what you have not yet covered and focus on those areas now.

Life happens and distractions come up daily. When you are presented with relatively uninterrupted learning time, maximize it. Do the hard stuff now rather than put it off, whether it comes in January or July.