Do you think your child has learned enough academically during the past year? If you’re unsure, you’re not alone. With plans to return to normalcy planned, what can we do this summer to prepare our kids?
Since March 2020, inconsistent routines have resulted in incomplete learning. Many students have been turning to online sources instead of investing time in learning, which results in the decreased validity of grades and assessments. Teachers’ energy is diffused, with many simultaneously teaching to remote and live groups.
Incorporating the five suggestions below not only promises the usual fun in the sun, but a chance to reset and plan for the more familiar routine of the fall.
1. Build knowledge with family field trips: Set up quality field trips to zoos and museums. Be strategic about how and when you give out snacks. Follow and/or create scavenger hunts. Kids have missed building knowledge via field trips and being out in the social world.
2. Find adventures in nature: Observe and appreciate nature with your children. Notice patterns. Math, for example, is everywhere in nature. An overwhelming number of cicadas are emergent this year, 13 to 17 years since the last time, prime numbers being protective because predator population cycles rarely overlap.
3. Assess skills: Do interest and skills inventories with your children. This is a slightly manipulative way to test them. But we can take this traumatic world event to come to terms with what we have learned in general about ourselves. While some traditional standardized testing may seem to be going out of vogue, we always need, at least for ourselves, to be honest about what we know/don’t know
4. Create a plan: Follow assessments with a plan for how to help your child thrive, not simply survive. While summer is about spontaneity and free time, use this summer to set them up to ease back into school. This could be tutoring by you, a family member, or a few professional tutoring sessions. If this is what your child needs, work it into your summer plans. Summer gives you fewer time constraints and more freedom — your child’s tutoring time could be once a week in July. Or it could be the last few weeks in August.
5. Change your mindset: Refocus on a growth mindset as opposed to a deficit mindset so your child enters school with a positive attitude. Every child is struggling this year. That doesn’t mean anything’s wrong, it’s actually the norm.
While our kids often resist “educational things,” the post-Covid reopening may be our opportunity; if we plan out our activities well with our kids, as we are being freed from restrictions. When we as parents truly appreciate freedom, it can help our kids to do the same.
Kevin Miller is a full-time tutor based in Tarrytown. You can reach him at kevsmilltutoring.com or firstname.lastname@example.org