Helping your child thrive academically during COVID-19

While there are unknowns when it comes to the risks of COVID-19 and children, there is evidence that prolonged school shutdowns are affecting children in different ways. One of the consequences has to do with retention of the lessons they learned last year.

It’s a phenomenon called the “COVID Slide.” What is the COVID Slide, and what can you do to help your child succeed?

We have some answers.

What is the COVID Slide?

First, it’s helpful to understand what we mean by the COVID Slide. Education experts already understand a similar phenomenon known as the “Summer Slide.” A study in 1996 found that students tend to lose math and reading skills over the summer. Each year, students can continue to lose a certain percentage of the gains they made the year before.

A 2015 study by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) estimated that 3rd – 5th graders lost an average of 20% of school gains in reading and 27% of gains in math over the summer. The losses are most profound in the formative years, especially kindergarten – 2nd grade.

How the COVID Slide compares

The COVID Slide is similar to the Summer Slide. Some education experts fear it may even be worse because some schools have been shut down since mid-March. Even as the new school year begins, many districts are still closed to in-person classes and are sticking with virtual learning options.

NWEA published a study in April that measured student achievement based on data from 5 million 3rd – 8th graders. Education Week analyzed the study and calculated that students might retain only about 70% of their reading progress and 50% of their math knowledge.

What you can do to help your child

If you notice signs that your child is struggling in general or with a particular subject, you can take steps to mitigate learning losses. You can also be proactive to ensure your child does not fall behind.

It’s also important to remember not to panic. Most children will catch up eventually. They will adapt to new routines and perhaps emerge stronger and more resilient in the face of challenges. Your child is not alone in this struggle.

Every child across the country is facing the same problems.

Here are four tips you can use to help your child:

  1. Read every day

Encourage your child to read at least 30 minutes every day, regardless of their age and reading level. This is easy and can be done anywhere, whether they prefer physical books or an e-reader device. This will ensure your child’s mind stays engaged and that his or her reading skills improve. If the family is able, you can also start a reading group to share in the experience with your child and stimulate conversation that improves retention.

  1. Learn the technology

Virtual learning does require the use of a computer/tablet and a specialized online platform. Although children are extremely technologically savvy these days, young children may not be able to navigate all of the ins and outs of their assignments, causing them to fall behind. You will need to become familiar with these tools so you can help your child stay on track. 

  1. Create schedules for everyone

Time management is a critical skill every child must develop to be successful later in life. Now is the perfect time to help your child build this skill as creating and sticking to a schedule is not only important for them, but for you as well. It may seem like overkill, but schedules should include more than just school assignments. Schedule breaks, projects, and meals as well so there is a strong structure they can rely on every day.

Sticking to a daily agenda also encourages independence because children know what’s coming and won’t be surprised as the day goes on. Since teachers aren’t standing over students, making sure they’re completing their assignments, students and parents have to take ownership of their work so they don’t fall behind. 

  1. Pay attention to areas of struggle

Most students struggle in particular subjects. Some excel in math and science but fall behind when it comes to reading and writing skills. Others are just the opposite. Not all kids are natural academics. Your child may also struggle with learning difficulties, developmental delays, or emotional and/or behavioral issues such as autism or ADD/ADHD.

Make time in your child’s schedule every day to touch on these areas of difficulty. You can use free learning resources available to do a daily project or activity that challenges their thinking in a fun way. National institutions like the Smithsonian and National Zoo have plenty of scientific options, and local museums are expanding their art and engineering offerings as well.

It’s important to monitor your child’s progress and take note of problem subjects or areas. If your child needs extra attention, seek help in the form of tutoring or study aids. You can also approach his/her teachers and ask for additional resources.

Georgetown Psychology can help

If you see your child struggling or falling behind, it is important to be proactive. Georgetown Psychology offers evaluations to identify gaps in learning as well as solutions to help your child retain information and learn new lessons. These solutions can be employed whether your child is attending school in person or in a remote learning environment.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today to schedule an evaluation.