Last Updated On: August 16th, 2021
Step 1: Let’s all acknowledge that learning loss is real.
Without a plan for such an event, teachers were forced to learn how to teach online on brand new platforms in a matter of weeks. Although most figured it out and rose to the challenging occasion, it still left a mark on students.
Hear from students about the great return on our latest blog.
Instead of getting angry or feeling sad for your child, take a breath and remember that this happened to every child. Every elementary school child, every rising middle schooler, every graduating senior.
So now what? Let’s move forward together.
Step 2: Find the holes.
This is by far the hardest step. However, it’s not impossible and there are many ways to approach this goal. First, I’d recommend taking a subject test through Khan Academy.
For example, if you think your child may have fallen behind in math and they took Pre-Algebra last year, have them take a “Course Challenge” on Pre-Algebra. This consists of about 30 questions and usually takes students 30-45 minutes to complete. I typically have students do this before or during our first session together. As they go through the material, I also take notes.
Did they need a hint?
Did they actually get it right and just miss a number or a negative sign?
It’s important to understand the difference between knowledge that needs to be refreshed and knowledge that isn’t there. After the test is complete, I take photos of the child’s score so I can target where to take their tutoring plan. Khan Academy does a great job of breaking a subject down by the micro concepts within it. Students will get points for areas they knew from their “Course Challenge” or if they do practice exercises within that concept. If they got one graphing question correct and then missed the second, it’ll show that too with a distinct marking on the scores. While you don’t need a tutor to do this test and uncover the scores, I highly recommend one.
Let’s get real for a second too…parents just spent over a year constantly surrounded by their children and kids have had a severe lack of one-on-one education. Sometimes it’s better to just take a step back and let the professional take the wheel. All of our tutors are highly qualified to teach students on Zoom and we offer in-person tutors as well.
Step 3: Start with the foundations.
If you’re seeing holes in learning that require some basic knowledge of a previous concept, be mindful.
For example, it’s really challenging for an elementary student to do fraction word problems and fraction division if they aren’t quite certain how denominators work with fraction operations. If a kid isn’t feeling solid about their angles and geometry terms, it’s nearly impossible to ask them to complete a proof. Without reviewing the basics that came before, you can’t expect to see vast improvement. And for each student the foundations are filled in with slightly different colors. Always remember that learning is individualized and in order to find gaps you must take the time required to relearn, the time that wasn’t given before. Manifest patience and manage expectations as you begin the relearning process with your child.
Step 4: Get a book.
Depending on the subject this will vary greatly. For English, I’d recommend books by Spectrum. For vocabulary and spelling, Wordly Wise tends to be the crowd favorite. For math, usually Khan Academy and textbooks directly from the school are the places to go. There are plenty of other wonderful, popular resources. These are just a few that have become a staple in my repertoire.
It’s easier to recall things in order. This is why the foundations are so important. Once you revisit the outlining process in essay writing, it’s easy to recall the next steps. Once you revisit vowel pairs, it’s easy to spell words filled with diphthongs and “exception words”. Try to remember even after the holes have been “filled” and the foundations have been laid, it’s a good idea to go chronologically through a text or workbook. By taking a thorough approach you will inevitably give your child a much-needed advantage.
Step 5: Reach out to your child’s teacher.
If you’re concerned about your child, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with teachers, guidance counselors, and advisors. Check out our blog on how to communicate with teachers. While I always encourage an open line of communication from parent to teacher, it’s also important that middle and high school students take the lead on communication. Their involvement and academic responsibility speaks volumes to their character and will immediately impress a new teacher, even if the subject may be “help with my learning loss.”
Have a team of support, keep them all in the loop, and have a plan for your child. My most successful students during the pandemic have had fierce, advocating parents that paid close attention to their progress and took action steps to keep their child on track. Even if you’re late to the catch up party, remember that kids learn fast and there’s still so much time. Build your child a support system and make a plan for their relearning.
We’re all in this together.