Fighting the COVID-19 Slide
The latest research predicts that by the beginning of the new school year, most students will have fallen behind academically in ways they would not have pre-pandemic. Here are some suggestions on how to use the remainder of your child’s summer to offset the educational losses.
Since the upcoming school year has not yet opened, no testing has taken place that could give us unequivocal percentages of academic losses. Nevertheless, educational researchers across the nation have been able to come up with what they believe to be solid expectations concerning learning losses caused by COVID-19.
Racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps will most likely will have widened because of disparities in access to computers, home internet connections, and direct instruction from teachers during March through May of 2020. In searching for the extent of the expected losses, the researchers have used a wide variety of methods, from testing several hundred thousand students before and after school closed for the summer to checking with a number of systems about remote assignments that indicated a large percentage of students simply were not following through.
Newest research suggests that by the start of the new school year, most students will have fallen behind where they would have been if they had stayed in classrooms. Even without a pandemic, students typically experience major summer academic losses. Coupled with the pandemic’s impact during the end of the 2019–2020 school year, researchers expect that some students will return to school having lost the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of academic gains! All in all, even with its limitations, the solid research indicates that when students begin resuming their studies in August, about ninety percent will have academic struggles in varying degrees.
Across the socioeconomic spectrum, many students usually return to the new school year having taken a loss particularly in the subjects of mathematics and reading—with the greater loss being in math. In past years, it has been estimated that the summer slide alone causes students to lose around two months of learning without intervention by parents. Combining this with the pandemic losses will prove devastating for some students.
Like never before, parents must ensure that the remaining few weeks of summer are devoted to an equal amount of work and play if they want their children to succeed even at grade level. The bright side of this is that it is not too late to avoid this intellectual slump and have your children prepared for school in August. Moreover in these remaining weeks, parents can introduce children to new experiences, emotional development, and creative learning, some of which may not even be available to them during the school year. Here are some suggestions for elementary level, and we are sure you know even more.
Be sure your summer is filled with outings that will jog your kids’ noggins. Should it become safer to be out, museums, historical sights, and science centers are great combinations of learning and fun. Turn a hike through the woods into an opportunity to learn about trees and wildlife.
If you’re going on vacation, encourage your kids to research the history and culture of your destination in advance. Remember, even a trip to the ballpark can be educational. For a painless math lesson, talk stats about your favorite baseball team.
Seize the Moment
Use general tasks for continuous learning with your child. Read food labels to expand vocabulary with new words. Math skills can be fostered when you allow children to count change, use a timer as well as a clock, measure a toy or the table or doorway, or follow an age-appropriate recipe. They can fold napkins and cut pizza to understand fractions. Math concepts such as same, different, matching, and sequence can be learned when sorting laundry, matching socks, setting the table, putting the money in the parking meter, counting the pretend money from a toy ATM machine, or making fruit loop necklaces or Lego towers by color.
Pen and Paper
If it’s been awhile since your kids exercised their writing skills, task them with regular summer journal entries. For those inclined toward fiction, encourage them to use the time off to write short stories or a novel.
Read, Read, Read
Reading is the doorway to all learning. Dr. Jake Walters, former headmaster at Covenant Academy once said, “The best advice for parents to prevent summer learning loss is have their child read individually and to take opportunities to read together as a family. The ability to read and to comprehend what has been read is a lifelong skill that must be continually cultivated.”
Read Aloud: Try reading your older child’s favorite children’s chapter book to your younger child. While storybooks form the foundation of a young child’s library, longer books without pictures encourage children to use their imaginations to paint pictures in their minds. These types of books can also be a good way to pass the time on road trips without always having to resort to video games.
Be a Reader Yourself: Allow your child to see you reading for pleasure as well as for information. Put together a July Reading List for yourself as well as for your child. Then be sure to demonstrate how relaxing it can be to enjoy a good book.
Visit the Library: There’s no better time than summer to curl up outside or on an extended road trip with a great book. You can instill a love of reading in your children by arming them with both a library card and a summer reading list. If the library is open and practicing social distancing, and masks, visit your library to refresh their reading material and help them get inspired. As COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, air them out for a few days before handing them over for reading. Always remind your children to wash their hands after touching library books as an extra precaution. (Editor’s Note: If your able to buy books or E-books this is obviously an even safer option).
This summer, all book pickups are by appointment only. Place holds at gapines.org or call your library branch:
Washington Memorial: 478.744.0800
Charles A. Lanford, MD: 478.621.6970
Jones County: 478.986.6626
When you arrive at the library to pick up your holds:
• Go to the designated curbside pickup area.
• Call the library to let staff know you
have arrived and to confirm your library card number.
• Follow staff instructions for pickup. You will receive a receipt listing each item checked out and the due date.
Relevant Books: If your family is going on vacation to a different region of the country, pick up a children’s book about that destination. It can be short or long, fiction or non-fiction. Ask your local children’s librarian for recommendations. For example, say you’re going to the Chesapeake Bay area for a few days. Pick up a copy of Misty of Chincoteague, a beautifully written novel that is based on the true story of the wild ponies from that region.
Get Hooked On Phonics
Download the Hooked On Phonics Learn to Read app (for iOS or Android or Kindle visiting www.HookedOnPhonics.com). When appropriate, let technology work for you. The Hooked On Phonics app is loaded with music, games, activities and open-ended play that keeps your child engaged, but it’s also correlated to National Common Core Standards. So you can rest easy knowing that your child is practicing critical reading skills that he or she will need to know to be a successful reader.
BrainQuest.com for example, a popular educational tool helps kids bridge the gap in learning. “I advise all my students to use learning tools like Brain Quest on summer vacation to avoid brain wipeout and get a jump on next year’s material,” says Kim Tredick, a 5th grade teacher and a Milken Award Winner. “As one of my students says—it’s a first class ticket to straight A’s!” Consider buying their curriculum-based card decks and workbooks for at-home learning or to-go fun for car trips.
STEM-based experiments offer a truly fun way to explore, measurement, cause and effect, and chemistry. So make sure to let the kids try out some of the fun science activities on the opposing page perfect boredom-busters when marooned at home.
It’s not too late to get a head start on classes in August and hopefully some of these ideas will have your child off to a great start! #