Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, School Psychologist
Now that a majority of public and private schools have resumed in-person instruction for improved learning, many parents still struggle with concerns about the loss of academic learning of their kids.
Loss of academic learning is real
For instance, EdTrust conducted a survey which found that 9 out of 10 parents are concerned that their child may fall behind academically. And, these feelings of unease are not unfounded. Often, grounded in truth. For instance, there is evidence based upon research conducted by McKinsey demonstrating that “students in the U.S. are likely to have suffered up to nine months of learning loss in math, on average, by the end of the academic year because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, and students of color [any possibly others] could be as many as 12 months behind.” (as reported by Time).
An article appearing in the Wall Street Journal has been quoted with this summary statement in reference to remote learning during the 2019-2020 school year, “the grade from students, teachers, parents and administrators is already in: It was a failure.“
Lost learning is perceived to be more of a threat to students with disabilities
Compounding the perception of failure to meet expectation toward academic teaching for mastery and student learning for the general education k-12 population of students, “remote learning itself often present[ed] new hurdles for children with disabilities.” The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that students receiving educational services related to a targeted individualized instructional plan constitute about 14% of total enrollment, reaching up to seven million students with disabilities.
To assuage the concerns of many parents and to beat the occurrence of the inevitable loss of learning among your child, here are a few recommendations from a school psychologist.
Recommendations for minimizing the effects of lost learning
- Encourage your child to read by maintaining books in the home, visiting the local or mobile library. Please refrain from complaining about your child’s reading choices. Find out the topics of interest to your child. Fortnite, comics, action heroes, Call of Duty, Harry Potter, rap, reality or YouTuber bios? It doesn’t matter. What parents must strive to do is find and keep books in the home that will motivate your child to learn more about his subject of choice. Why? According to Oxford Learning, “studies show that reading four-to-five books [within a 6 week period] over the summer has a positive impact that is comparable to summer school enrollment.
- Create parent led hands on learning projects. Generally labeled by academicians as PBL or Project Based Learning, A pedagogical strategy where your your child “learns important content by investigating questions, generating original ideas, and working collaboratively to produce products that demonstrate what they have learned.” Potential project ideas could be the following: create a podcast, prepare a photo essay, start a recycling program, catalogue animals for adoption for instance. PBL may be a vital means to increase your child’s motivation to learn. For instance, researchers have found that “most students reported being bored much of the time and suggested that teachers should ‘make learning active and fun,’ do more ‘hands-on activities.’ (Wiggins, 2014). Lack of student motivation is very real during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an example, LATImes featured “Andrew Diaz, about to start 11th grade at Lynwood High School, lacked a computer for weeks and struggled to find motivation after campuses closed in March.”
- Participate in fun activities to motivate brain development. Participate in fun family games to stimulate brain power. In addition the the traditional games such as Scrabble, Cranium, Verywell lists the top nine games for mind development are: Sudoku, Luminosity, Crossword, Elevate, Peak, Happy Neuron, Braingle, Queendom, and Brain Age Concentration System. If there is a concern about the costs associated with these games, there is a free website called MindGames that offers online brain boosting programs for free. See here for details.
- Take day trips to the museum, the zoo, aquarium, library or historical buildings and landmarks. If these locations are not accessible, visit the local mall and map out the coordinates of each retailer or sit in a quite area to re-create the layout and square footage. Or, visit the local park and try to ascertain the type of plants, bird species, trees type, and wildlife that inhabit the area. Another idea would be to visit various fast food restaurants and calculate which establishment offersmenus with the highest or lowest caloric content.
I hope these suggestions prove helpful. Please have a great day! May you be continually blessed.
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Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA http://www.ishareknowledge.com is a consultant specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at: tonya at ishareknowledge dot com