The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted the educational landscape, resulting in what experts call “learning loss.” Extended school closures, remote learning challenges, and the absence of in-person social interactions created gaps in students’ academic progress and left students with a loss of “35% of a normal years’ worth of learning” according to a published article in Nature Human Behavior. Mix this learning loss with the natural tendency for students to experience the “summer slide” — the academic decline that many students experience every summer as a result of not being engaged in active learning — and you have a recipe for disaster.
As a teacher and private tutor, I have seen firsthand how Covid learning losses and the summer slide have affected students; some students are two years behind in their reading and writing abilities and roughly a year behind in math and science. In this article, I hope to share how parents can support their children’s educational journey and mitigate the effects of COVID learning loss and the summer slide.
Identify Learning Gaps
The first step in addressing COVID learning loss and knowledge gaps caused by the summer slide is to identify the specific areas where your child may have fallen behind. Communicate with their teachers and review their academic assessments and progress reports. This can be report cards, school projects and assignments, standardized test scores, and beginning-of-the-year exams such as math, English, and spelling tests. Doing this helps identify the subjects and/or concepts that require additional attention and focus.
Establish a Routine
Creating a structured routine is key to maintaining a sense of normalcy and encouraging effective learning. Set consistent daily schedules that include dedicated time for academic activities, breaks, physical exercise, and social interactions. Ensure that your child has a quiet and well-equipped study space to minimize distractions and optimize their learning environment.
Leverage Online Resources
Take advantage of the abundance of online educational resources available to support your child’s learning journey. Utilize reputable websites, interactive learning platforms, and educational apps that align with your child’s grade level and curriculum. Online tutoring as well as extra academic camps and classes offer extra support to your student can offer engaging content, practice exercises, and interactive lessons that can help reinforce key concepts and bridge learning gaps.
Encourage Reading & Curiosity
Reading is a powerful tool for learning and expanding knowledge. Encourage your child to read regularly both fiction and non-fiction books that align with their interests. Visit your local libraries or utilize online platforms and apps that provide access to a wide range of books. You can also foster your child’s intellectual curiosity by engaging in discussions about what they are reading, encouraging them to ask questions, and exploring related topics together. This assists in helping to develop important critical thinking and communication skills as well as boosts their ability to discuss their viewpoints. The skills they will learn from vocally explaining the content are important to everyday life and their future as they enter upper-level education and future careers.
Individualize Learning Approaches
Recognize that each child has unique learning styles and preferences. Tailor your approach accordingly to ensure optimal engagement and understanding. Experiment with different teaching techniques, such as visual aids, hands-on activities, and educational games, to make learning enjoyable and effective for your child. As a parent, you can even contact the school and ask if they offer group or one-on-one tutoring. Research has shown that 1:1 tutoring has the greatest benefit to students and is the most efficient in identifying and resolving a student’s specific needs. If the school does not offer tutoring, you can research tutors in your area.
Create Opportunities for Learning
Beyond textbooks and worksheets, provide opportunities for practical, real-world learning experiences. Engaging children in discussions about current events not only enhances their awareness of the world but also encourages them to think critically and make informed opinions. Additionally, inviting your child to participate in solving everyday problems, whether it’s planning a family outing or organizing a game with friends, empowers them to apply their problem-solving skills in a meaningful context.
Collaborate with Teachers
As a parent of a student facing Covid learning losses and knowledge gaps created by the summer slide, it is imperative to maintain open communication with your child’s teachers and stay informed about their progress. This includes regularly attending parent-teacher meetings, asking for feedback, and discussing strategies to support your child’s learning goals. Teachers can provide valuable insights, tailored recommendations, and additional resources that align with the school curriculum.
Prioritize Well-being and Social Connection
Remember that well-being and social connection are important to a child’s overall development. Help your child’s social development by creating a supportive and nurturing environment, encouraging open dialogue, and being attentive to their emotional needs. Covid-19 took a toll on everyone, especially children who lacked socialization in school and extracurricular activities. Find your child opportunities for social interactions with peers, whether through in-person activities, virtual meetups, or with extracurricular clubs and organizations through their school.
The impact of learning losses from COVID-19 and the summer slide are challenges that require proactive parental involvement. By recognizing the unique needs of your child, utilizing online resources, fostering intellectual curiosity, and maintaining open communication with teachers, parents can play a vital role in supporting their children’s educational journey and helping them overcome academic setbacks.