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How to Deal with Makeup Work for Students That Are Out for an Extended Amount of Time

When students are out for an extended amount of time, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to handle makeup work. Here are 3 ideas for how to deal with makeup work when kids will be out for a while.

Create and Send Home Work Packets

One thing you can do is create packets of worksheets that you can send to the office to get picked up. This is a lot of work up front but it’s worth it to have them done when a child will be out for an extended amount of time.


Think about the standards you teach each quarter of the school year. 

Create one packet per quarter so students are working on skills that the rest of their classmates are most likely also working on. 

I wouldn’t expect the students to complete the packet. And many might not get help completing it.

But at least they’ll be doing some work that’s related to the work being done in the classroom. And that’s better than nothing at all.

Hybrid Work for the Week

Another idea for makeup work is to create a document of work kids can do both online and on paper.

Type up any of the printed and online work kids need to work on and send it home either by email or a messaging app you have set up. Or you can print it out and send it home with any books or work families pick up.

Here are ideas for the kind of work you can assign in math, reading and writing:


Look at your plans for the week or two ahead. Do you have a math workbook you can send home where students complete the pages of skills you’re working on that week?

Does the student’s family have access to a computer and printer at home? If so, you can send them math worksheets for them to print at home.


Does your school require students to do an online math program like IXL or iReady? Assign students lessons or a certain amount of time on the program each day. This requires no prep because students just log on each day.


If students don’t have books to read at home, send one home that they can read from daily. Assign 20-30 minutes of reading each day.

The more kids read, the better their comprehension gets. So simply reading each day is an easy assignment to give students.

If you take the time to train kids to have reading stamina in class, they will be able to continue it at home. 

So at the beginning of the year and any time we have a long break from school, I make sure to train them using my First Days of School Reading Boot Camp resource.


Having kids practice and reach 20 or 30 minutes of reading stamina will help them read for extended amounts of time at home. This is also helpful for when you have substitutes because you can assign an extended amount of reading which requires no prep.

Just like with math, is there an online reading program your school requires? Assign students lessons or a certain amount of time each day. 



Assign one prompt a day for kids to write about. This will help students keep their writing stamina (which we also practice at school). 

Writing every day also improves reading so this assignment is also helping with their reading skills.

5 Writing Prompts to Send Home:

  • What is something you like to do after school and why?
  • If you could be any animal what would it be? Why?
  • If you could have any superpower what would it be? Why?
  • Pretend you’re in charge of the school. What rules would you make and why?
  • If you could fly anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Kids can respond to writing prompts on notebook paper which can be sent home if needed. Or if they know how to use Google Slides you can create slides for them to record their responses throughout the week.

When kids need to be out more than one school week, you can send a second document home with the work for the next week. 

Just change out the math skills they’ll work on in the workbook and the writing prompts they’ll respond to.

Online Learning

If your students have access to a device at home, assign only things they can do online. (It helps to teach kids how to use online programs at the beginning of the year so they can independently do this at home.)

Create a set of slides for any skills you want them to work on and add them to a sharing platform like Google Classroom.

I like to create anchor chart slides for math so kids that are not present for the lesson can independently go through them and learn the math skill we are currently working on.


There are sites like EPIC that have books for kids to read online. It’s free for teachers and kids can choose reading material for the week. 

Create a set of slides for writing, with the writing prompts I mentioned earlier, on each slide. Kids can respond right on the slide and then submit when they’re done.

And just like with hybrid work, assign students their reading and math program lessons for the week. You can track when they log on and how much they have completed.

Will all of these suggestions prevent gaps in student learning? Not at all. It’s obviously best for kids to get regular instruction from the teacher. 

But we cannot control the student absentee problem so all we can do is help make that gap smaller. 

This isn’t a perfect system and we can only do so much as teachers. It is not our sole responsibility to make sure kids don’t have gaps in their learning. It takes a village.

I hope you found some ideas that are helpful for dealing with makeup work and will make it a little easier to deal with the student absentee problem. 

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