It is summertime! While typically summer vacation serves as the signal for a prolonged break from academic work, parents should consider doing things a little bit differently this year. It is probably best for kids to remain somewhat academically engaged. The learning loss from COVID-19 is real and more real for some students than others. This is on top of the traditional “summer-slide” phenomena that we warn against this time of year anyway.
So, what are options for students and parents that are trying to catch up on lost learning or stop their children from falling further behind over the break?
Summer camps are generally thought of as a place where kids can go to have a good time while school is out. While that is still largely the case, many camps offer academic enrichment as a part or even the whole of their program.
Because of the COVID-19 learning loss, many districts are investing lots of money into their summer school programs. Summer school is not the sole dominion of students who are in danger of repeating grades this year. Many parents might think it is cruel to stick their children into summer school immediately following regular school, but summer school hours are typically less than regular school. (Teachers want a break too.) Additionally, summer school has the advantage of being free which is something you can’t say about most academic-based camps.
We learned this year that e-learning can work. If you had a child that fared well while school was online, then you might consider using educational apps and websites to supplement their learning. Some require a subscription but many like Khan Academy are free. Even the ones that cost money typically have free versions, and your child may be entitled to use paid resources through their school district.
Packets and Workbooks
Good ole fashion paper and pencil busy work has gotten a bad reputation as of late, but it worked for everyone that came before. It is a cheap low-cost way to keep students academically engaged over the summer. Many teachers are happy to print off copies of work for students to do over the summer. Your school might have a summer reading list anyway. The only downside to worksheets is that they don’t exactly provide real-time feedback if you are doing something wrong, so it is best to use them for review purposes.
It is always important to make sure that students are remaining academically engaged, but this is especially important given what has transpired over the last year and a half. Doing work over the summer might not seem fun, but this year it isn’t about getting ahead. It’s about not falling behind.
An original version of this piece appeared on Indy.Ed.
Andrew Pillow is a fifth grade social studies teacher at KIPP Indianapolis, a charter school where he has taught since 2011. He is also a former Teach Plus Policy Fellow and he has taught technology and social issues.