How to Close Pandemic Learning Gaps This Summer: From a Principal’s Perspective

By Principal Judy, Intake Coordinator at Teachers on Call

Posted in Featured, Tips & Advice

How to Close Pandemic Learning Gaps This Summer: From a Principal’s Perspective

Ready or not, exams are coming! Our Last spring, we brought you: Top 10 Questions to Ask Teachers Right Now!

This June, we thought it might be helpful to narrow the focus. As summer quickly approaches, students are starting to think about all the fun they can have – now that they can be out and about gathering with friends.

But this is a summer like no other – not only because they can spend more time on leisure activities and with friends, but with the return to more “regular” school, many students and parents are concerned that there are academic gaps because of the learning disruption over the last two years.

In the best of times, there was usually a “summer slide” where students lost some of their learning gains. This is a critical summer – even more so than usual – to get a jump on preventing any learning losses. The build up to the fall will also be more positive if you are able to take some steps forward over the summer to address the social contact and learning gaps that are evident in many youth.

So, what can you do?

First, talk to your child – make a list of leisure things they want to do and educational goals for the summer. Having both areas covered will assure them that you want them to have fun but also are there to support them.

Find ways to balance the two lists – perhaps it’s working on some educational goals in the morning and other activities in the afternoon, or doing things a day or a week at a time.  Balance is key, as we have noticed many students are suffering from the lack of social contact, the gaps in their learning and the need to restore good mental health and wellness.

Picking up social contact

Social contact is critical for all people – but especially our young people.  Find ways to re-engage them with their peers.  Look for simple things like going to the park to play with their friends (elementary students) or taking advantage of summer student work and volunteer opportunities where they build communication skills (secondary students).  This will help them rebuild the social capital that has been missing for them in the past two years.

Next, check with your school/board/independent to see what learning camps, summer school and/or academic programs (where applicable) are being offered.  Look to us as well for additional support with bridging some of the gaps.

Addressing learning gaps

Gaps in learning can also be more readily addressed over the summer break, as they are not currently “in school”.  Look at the June report cards – what areas do their teachers identify as needing work?  Pick several smaller goals to help them achieve success. 

For example, in elementary, maybe they are having difficulty with number sense.  Working on the more intermediate goals of practicing counting and grouping will help them build confidence.  Then, you can work on adding, subtracting, and dividing into smaller groups.  Also find ways to help them work on estimating and talking about relationships between quantities.  Finally, build in opportunities to talk about time.  Taking these smaller steps will build their confidence and their abilities. 

Professional tutoring

Of course, at Teachers on Call our tutoring team is comprised of professional certified teachers who are ready and willing to help you and your student with those building blocks.  For our tutors, who are subject and grade specialists, building these intermediate goals is what they do.  You may be confident with early elementary number sense, but you struggle with your grade 10 student’s difficulties with algebra.  We can help!

Using tutoring to help bridge learning gaps will not only set your student on the path for success in the fall, but it will also help with their mental health and wellbeing.  Students know they are behind in some areas and providing that bridge for them allows them to see that they are not alone and that there are people ready and willing to help.

Final thoughts

Finding balance in leisure/educational activities, helping students bridge the gaps in their learning, and setting them on the path for success will help not only their mental health and wellbeing but will also help them build resilience before the fall term is upon us.  It has taken two years of a pandemic to get us to this point – it will take time to rebuild and move forward, but together we can do this.

We hope these tips are helpful in finding a healthy balance this summer while setting students up for success! 

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