Learning loss is a real issue every summer, but in the unprecedented era of COVID-19, many students already began the summer at an educational disadvantage. As schools closed their doors weeks ahead of time, students completed the school year at home, relying on virtual classrooms and take-home work.
The digital divide made it a lot harder for some children to complete school work, especially those from low-income and minority households, who may not have reliable internet access. In homes where parents did not have the choice of tele-work, older children may have needed to care for their younger siblings so parents could work, making it even harder to do school work under already challenging circumstances.
Now there’s concern over how to keep kids engaged in learning this summer. Research finds children typically fall behind academically each summer, losing about two months’ worth of math skills during the summer.
Low-income youth lose more than two months’ worth of reading skills, while their middle-class peers make slight gains. Unchecked, summer learning losses can cause disadvantaged kids to fall behind and possibly jeopardize their chances of graduating from high school.
Public schools and some afterschool programs like Boys & Girls Clubs may remain closed this summer to prevent the spread of the virus, and that means students have lost an important lifeline – a place to connect with friends and teachers, work on their social and emotional skills (which help kids achieve success in areas like academics, arts, leadership and service) and access a typical learning experience. To compensate for the losses, parents can take some valuable cues and gain advice to help their kids from a youth development expert from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Chrissy Chen, the Senior Director of Youth Development Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, joined me to discuss how parents can learn some important tips to keep kids and teens learning during summer, especially due to the changes that happened during this recent school year due to COVID-19. She also explained what the important tools are to make sure young people don’t experience summer learning loss while also building their social and emotional skills so they can prepare for the new school year — and life beyond the pandemic.