As schools across the country start to re-open for in-person learning, parents are universally starting to breathe easier and feel better about the educational and social experience we’re providing for our children — just in time for summer!
The good news is that increasing vaccinations coupled with better weather should make the summer of 2021 much more flexible —with camp options, perhaps some family travel, and generally a lot more fun for all.
Unfortunately, studies still agree that the learning loss experienced by students of all ages is significant. Readiness for fall has many schools planning on staying open throughout the summer and/or offering more summer classes and programs than usual. Despite the best efforts of teachers and parents, few if any students will be fully prepared at grade level, making summer learning more critical than ever.
So how do we balance the need for a much-deserved break with some efforts to bridge the learning gap? Here are some suggestions.
Schedule family/fun time
This isn’t the year to overdo it. We all need a break from lockdown, the monotony and the screen. Take advantage of longer days, weekends and even weekday afternoons (as work schedules permit) to get out into nature. Studies have long held that exposure to nature for people of all ages contributes to better mental and physical health. Whether this means hikes at the nature preserve, beach days or even just an hour at the park, it’ll be worth it for everyone.
Kids have feelings that they often struggle to articulate. These may be around what they need or miss socially, or apprehension about the school year ahead. Get them involved with the decision-making process of what would feel good to them. You may not be looking for, or get, total agreement, but collaboration can go a long way toward more enthusiastic participation.
Connect with teachers
More than likely, the teachers at your child’s school have some perspective on what’s gone well, what parts of the curriculum have gotten short changed and what are the critical building blocks for the upcoming year. For some, summer might even be a great time to try out things like Minecraft coding or arts and music. Be sure to stay connected with your child’s teacher throughout the year.
Invest in study skills
Even if you’re burned out on deep subject learning, now could be a great time to carve out one half-hour each week for lighthearted memory building or creative writing exercises. No matter the age or subject, consistently developing those skills will pay dividends for years to come.
Emerging from the pandemic is a period of change and figuring out the new normal. It’s impacting every student and academic level. There are many free and affordable online options that are available to students, and parents can even look into hiring a tutor who can help design a personalized program on a specific subject or encourage consistency in reading or writing. Just as before, the “right” answer is ultimately the one that is tailored to the needs of your family.