We hope you are well and healthy wherever you are.
We have had hundreds of parents reach out to us over the past few months expressing concern about the state of their child’s learning. One of the major concerns is that for many schools, for instance those in York Region District School Board in Toronto, the teaching has stopped since the transition to online, and students are only receiving worksheets to complete. COVID has clearly made a big stress on the education system, with schools and teachers feeling that they were not prepared or equipped to deal with this sudden transition.
As a result of this, the learning experience for students has been disrupted. In this blog, we want to provide parents and students with some tips on the things they can do this summer to help reduce the impact of this disruption on their long-term learning. Importantly, we want to make sure students have a productive summer and that they are ready for the start of next school year.
Typically, we would say summer is really the time to go out, be active, and spend most of the time outside. And summer is definitely meant for that. However, we all know this is not just another “normal” year and it is very important that some important steps are taken and time is dedicated to ensuring students have learned what they needed to this past year before and that they are ready for the next school year.
What To Do This Summer
- Develop a Routine & Strike A Balance
- This is something that we believe is going to be very important. As previously mentioned, we believe that summer is an important time to take a break and engage in activities that students typically do not have time for during the school year. We believe students should remain active in the summer. At the same time, we believe that during this summer, in particular, it is important to create a schedule that helps students stay active physically, but also mentally. It is important to budget time for learning this summer and dedicating the time needed to academics to make sure that 1) students did not miss topics that were to be covered this past year, and 2) students are ready for the next academic year.
- In order to achieve this, we believe that it is important to create a sound schedule heading into the summer months, which balances physical activity with learning. We believe that each child is different and so are his or her learning needs, but we believe that allocating about 2 hours of time daily to student’s calendar is reasonable. We think that is number is fair and would not exhaust the student.
- Recap This Past School Year
- Due to the disruptions, some, if not many of the units that were supposed to be covered in classes were not taught this past year, thus resulting in a considerable learning gap for students. One of the best things that a learning plan for this summer can entail is including a game plan for covering the units that should have been covered in the syllabus or the school textbook. This is especially important for subjects such as Math, English, and Science.
- We know that self-learning can be difficult, but the learning can come in a combination of forms, including self-paced learning, tapping online resources, and seeking the help of teachers or tutors. At Prepsmart, we have dedicated much time to making many resources available to students. Please reach out to us if you would like to learn more about these and access them.
- Assess Progress
- One of the important items to track learning is by assessing it. Too often we find that just “spending the time” unfortunately does not result in “having fully grasped the material”. It is important to make sure that students are not just “spending” time to learn this summer for the sake of allocating time, but actually learning the material they need to. The way to determine if the student learned the material is through assessments, and we want to make sure students take measures to assess their learning this summer.
- There are many ways to do assessments. If using a textbook, make sure that the student does end-of-chapter homework and unit tests. These should be graded. If using online resources or the help of a tutor, make sure the same thing. All curriculums and textbooks include unit tests and final tests, and it is important to do those. We recommend doing a halfway (or midterm) and end-of-course assessments. These bigger checkpoint assessments will help to see what the student took away from the overall course. At Prepsmart, we are committed to conducting regular assessments and updating parents on the progress.
Getting Ready for the Next School Year
- While reviewing last year’s content and units for key subjects is a great way to ensure that you are on track, we believe that there are some steps that students can proactively take to make sure they are ready for the next academic year. These include:
- Getting organized: create folders, not only physical but on your computer. As you know, a good chunk of learning is happening online so it is just as important, if not more so, to have folders and files organized digitally as it is having them in physical folders
- Being prepared for class: Get in the habit of reviewing material and preparing for upcoming classes. Review the chapters ahead of time or read the chapters ahead of time and attend class ready with questions. If you are prepared, you are going to serve yourself much better in this environment and make sure you get the most from your classes. This uncertainty does need students to also rise to the occasion and take pro-active measures in ensuring their learning
- Seeking help when needed: Now, more than ever, it is important for students to speak up if they don’t understand a topic, have questions, or concerns. It can be related to something as small as a homework question or struggling with overall learning in this new environment, but if the concerns are not voiced then it will create holes in their learning that will only grow and multiply. For that reason, more than ever, it is important for students to speak up and express when they have questions. We encourage you to encourage your students to do this.
We hope that you found this piece to be helpful. This is uncertain times for everyone, but there are still measures that students can take to minimize the impact of COVID on their learning. We hope the above steps help with doing that.
We look forward to sharing more educational content with you throughout the summer to help you plan.
Hope you are staying safe and healthy,