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Children reading books at the park

As the nation prepares for what will be an unconventional and unprecedented school year, research shows that students will likely return to class with marked learning loss. Summer Slide is the term used to express the typical reduction in learning that occurs over the summer break. Because of COVID-19, that loss potential is compounded as students have been without traditional in-classroom instruction for the majority of the year. These circumstances have resulted in what experts are now labeling COVID Slide. This contributes to lower achievement and an increased gap between high and low-achieving students. While coronavirus has made the slide a steeper and more slippery slope, there are preventative measures that parents and students can take as they gear up for the start of school.

Read, Read, Read

There is at least a 30 percent reduction in reading skills over summer months. In the wake of COVID-19, it’s especially key to incorporate reading over school breaks. Consider promoting reading skills by starting a family book club, reading aloud to each other, or picking books relating to current issues. Remember, reading content of any kind, educational to fictional, can lead to huge gains in literacy skills.

Educational Apps

Balancing life and technology is a common challenge for youth. Investing in the right kind of screen time can actually be academically beneficial. There are many apps designed to transition kids from simple games to learning gamification, education made fun. Researching and exploring the appropriate apps for age, grade levels, and child interests can lead to increased motivation and achievement.

Tutor Time

Depending on the child’s learning style, a tutor may be a preferred option. Tutors can attend to real-time questions and design a learning plan that addresses individual needs and academic gaps. These sessions can be arranged to accommodate social distancing, including being completely conducted remotely via technology.

Work It Out with Workbooks

Coronavirus school closures could lead to a 50 percent math learning loss. Conveniently, a variety of math and other subject matter and grade level based practice workbooks can be found in stores that allow kids to retain and remediate academic skills. An advantage to their electronic app counterparts is that workbooks are accessible offline at any time and gives a reprieve from screen time.

Video Learning

Many extended year or summer programs have transitioned online, offering students the opportunity to learn and stay engaged remotely during the pandemic. Additionally, pre-recorded and live educational course offerings exist through various websites, organizations, and institutions. Youth, especially those who learn differently, may benefit most from real-time live classes. This method will also help acclimate students to the virtual learning platform being used and/or integrated scholastically in the interim of the pandemic.                     

Social Engagement and Education

Learning opportunities during school breaks can come in many forms. During the pandemic, parents may consider arranging play dates for younger children to foster social engagement utilizing video-conferencing technology. Research suggests that balanced social engagement and academic success go hand-in-hand.  Additionally, incorporating outdoor activities, such as scavenger hunts that purposely incorporate educational concepts can help children to learn while being fit and having fun.

More Information

Summer months and hiatuses from traditional school instruction does not have to break learning momentum. Parents can begin crafting a creative summer learning plan by reviewing their child’s assignments and tests over the year. This plan can further be developed by reflecting on the next year’s educational skills and their child’s personality to determine a strategy that best fits their needs. Putting important practices in place now can help combat COVID Slide.

For more information on this or related topics, contact Synithia Flowers, an Alabama Extension human sciences regional agent, at (205) 329-1148 or willisl@aces.edu.

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