It’s a situation that is common across the country, in every school district: students have fallen behind due to the disruptions in schooling over the past year. While parents are trying to figure out how to help their children cope with all of the changes that they’ve been faced with, school districts are coming up with various plans to tackle the learning loss that has occurred.
The Collaborative for Student Success conducted a nationwide survey of education professionals to explore how students will “catch up”. “The poll asked teachers, administrators, policymakers, and education advocates to analyze four return-to-the-classroom options: extending the next school year, beginning the next school year where instruction stopped this school year, beginning the next school year as in any other year, and offering students the opportunity to repeat their present grade.” There are pros and cons to each of these ideas, but they all have one common goal: help students get on track academically and minimize the learning loss.
What Can Parents Do?
While school districts grapple with ways to address these issues on a global scale, parents are struggling to find ways to support their children’s learning and help them stay on course. Education Week has published a guide to help identify students who have fallen behind, and suggested various interventions to help them. Schools establish the foundation with a common curriculum, and they build student engagement. When attendance starts falling, or a student is failing, there are a couple of things outside of school and the common curriculum that can help.
These are small group sessions that take place during school vacation weeks, weekends, and summer. Schools can offer these types of programs to students who need help with math, literacy, or English-as-a-second-language. Small group sessions like this cost less than individualized tutoring, but the tradeoff is that students still don’t get much one-on-one instruction as there is one teacher for around 10 students. It’s worth looking into to find out if your school offers programs like this.
High Dosage Tutoring
This type of tutoring involves a skilled tutor (generally a teacher, paraprofessional, or paid volunteer) and consists of at least 50 hours over a semester. And these sessions are ideally 1 or 2 students. There’s a strong research base for the effectiveness of this type of intervention. It’s more expensive than other options, but the personalized attention is the best way to make substantial progress. Both schools and tutoring companies have the ability to offer programs like this.
A new study from the University of Chicago shows that individualized, intensive tutoring “can double or triple the amount of math high school students learn each year, increase student grades, and reduce math and non-math course failures.” Student learning gains persist, even a year or two after tutoring. They also found that learning gains were evident across multiple subjects, and these gains helped reduce achievement gaps from COVID-19.
Individualized Tutoring Makes the Biggest Impact
High-dosage tutoring may not be available in all school districts, but the same results are achievable privately by enrolling your child in individualized tutoring with a certified teacher. At TutorUp, all of our tutors are certified, experienced, background-checked classroom teachers who work one-on-one with students. And we have a subscription program that is ideal for semester-long tutoring support, at our lowest prices.
The evidence is in: personalized tutoring works. You can help your child end this current school year on a higher note, and be prepared for the next school year by enrolling them in one-on-one tutoring with a certified teacher who can help them achieve their academic goals.
Your child may have already returned to in-person school, either full-time or in a hybrid program that includes remote learning. If so, you may have already encountered issues you weren’t expecting. If your child is getting ready to return to the classroom, here are some ways you can make the transition easier.
Find out the details at your particular school
Staggered schedules, early or late arrival times and dismissal times, rules surrounding what to wear, what safety measures will be in place, and whether or not school gatherings like sporting events will resume, are all topics you need to get familiar with.
Students may be feeling anxious and worried about their safety, so it’s important to be reassuring about the precautions that are being taken. After a long period of isolation, it’s going to take a while for many kids to adjust to being around lots of people again.
Help kids understand what lunch and recess might look and feel like now, along with how to reconnect with other students they haven’t seen in a long time. It’s important to help them reestablish relationships with teachers and faculty, as well as with their peers.
Pay close attention to the signs your child is showing, and don’t dismiss or discount their anxieties and concerns. Encourage them to voice their concerns so you can address them.
Stay informed by monitoring all school communications. Stay connected to your child’s teacher(s) and keep up to date on safety issues, scheduling issues, homework requirements, and changes to school programs.
It’s an unfortunate fact that many students have experienced learning loss during this past school year. Be sure to help your child understand that this is a widespread issue and is nothing to be embarrassed about. The majority of students will benefit from some type of remedial instruction or tutoring to help them get back to the levels they need to achieve academically. Some schools are administering baseline assessments to help teachers prepare for their students’ challenges, and many parents have already incorporated tutoring into their child’s learning plan.
Reinforcing hygiene and safety instructions
Many schools will have hand sanitizer available, hand-washing stations, antiseptic wipes, masks, tissues, and other hygiene supplies. Be sure your child has a personal supply of the hygiene products you use at home so they will feel safe, in case there aren’t sufficient supplies at school. Help them understand that not all students will follow the same guidelines, and they need to feel confident and comfortable about their own hygiene. Help your child cope with different scenarios they might encounter.
Be a good role model
If you are optimistic, calm, and confident, it will be much easier to encourage the same attitudes in your child. If you disagree with the policies at your child’s school, or express concerns, or seem troubled, that’s understandable, but it’s best to keep it to yourself or your child will pick up on that and it can increase their anxiety and worry.
Reestablishing bedtime and mealtime routines is a good way to help children get back in the routine of attending school in person. Many children will have developed some lax habits that will affect their behavior and attention span in the classroom.
Prepare for the unexpected
This is new for all of us. If something happens and plans change, and students are sent back home to resume remote learning, be prepared to make that adjustment. Helping your child understand in advance that plans may change will help them avoid being surprised or unduly worried about another new routine.
There are 50.7 million students currently enrolled in public schools in the United States and when this school year began, 58% of them were learning entirely online and another 18% were receiving a combination of in-person and online instruction. That means that less than one quarter of students are learning entirely in person.
The effectiveness of online learning varies widely, depending on the individual student, the quality of the technology available, the competency of the instructors, and the support of parents. Many students are thriving in the new environment, and are having a fairly easy time of it, but many others are struggling.
What Can Parents Do?
Unaccustomed to being so involved in their child’s education, many parents are overwhelmed with the amount of support needed by their at-home student who is learning remotely. One of the first things a parent needs to do in order to help their child succeed is to become familiar with the technology. Check out these ways you can help your student succeed with online or blended school:
Set up a Zoom call with a couple of friends or family members; try a Google Meet session, and use the computer, tablet, or other device that your child uses for school. Getting familiar with how to set up a video conferencing call can help you iron out the glitches ahead of time.
Be sure you’re receiving all communication from your child’s school and teacher(s) and show older students how to respond properly via email and how to upload/download documents. For younger students, you will probably need to manage the administrative tasks for them.
Maintaining communication with your child’s teacher(s) is especially important when learning takes place online. Teachers are generally happy to answer questions and appreciate parent feedback.
Sit in (off-camera) on a few sessions of your child’s online learning classes to get a feel for the teacher’s style, the pace, and the amount of interaction that takes place. You may be able to pick up on a few things you can recommend to help your child, and it might spark some questions you can ask the teacher later.
Create a calendar on paper that helps your student track assignments, due dates, meeting times, test dates, etc. A physical calendar is easier to view than tracking on a computer, and serves as a helpful visual reminder that helps your child organize their time.
If your child is a more tactile learner, print out assignments and worksheets, and allow them to complete these assignments off line. You can help them convert their work to online, or scan and upload their work to send to the teacher, if that is allowed.
Reduce distractions and make sure your child gets breaks away from the computer. Adults have a hard time maintaining their focus and attention for long periods of time online, and it is much harder for children.
Help your child set realistic goals to help them feel competent and accomplished. Teachers are usually good at giving positive reinforcement, but since they are not physically present, it’s helpful if you can give positive feedback to your child as well.
If it seems that your child is struggling to complete assignments, or is getting lower grades and test scores than they normally would, it may be that your child would benefit from one-on-one tutoring support with a certified teacher. Some students only need help on a short term basis in order to master a new concept or subject, and other students need more ongoing support to stay caught up with the rest of the class. If you’d like to know about the tutoring services we offer at TutorUp, please call us at 877-888-6787, or browse through our tutor profiles and let us know how we can help.
There’s a lot of focus on academic progress – or lack thereof – with students during the pandemic. The cancellation of in-person school is creating a lot of stress for students, parents, and teachers. But what is also happening is that many schools have cancelled “non-essential” extracurricular activities for students. Even schools that have returned to in-person classes, or a hybrid schedule of online and in-person, are not resuming arts programs, student clubs, student community outreach programs, field trips, museum visits, and the like.
While the COVID-19 learning loss is a real concern, it is compounded by the loss of social interaction and the enrichment that comes from participation in creative activity. Some schools are resuming sports activities, which is a great outlet for the population of students who participate, but many schools are not even doing that much.
Some activities, like speech and debate, can be translated into an online format. And some drama teachers are becoming creative, replacing scheduled productions with recording audio plays, short films, and table readings over video calls. And while this may work for some older students, it’s completely limited by the individual school district and resources available.
Creative Things for Kids to Do During COVID Quarantine
(or any time!)
Besides the inherent value of encouraging creativity in students of all ages, non-academic activities are also a wonderful break and may help students focus better when they do have to work on academics. Below are 21 great resources for artistic, creative, crafty, musical, dramatic, and other activities that you can do with your child, and help them interact with others during COVID.
Some traditions outlive their usefulness, and making New Year’s resolutions seems to be one. Do an online search for “no resolutions 2021” and you’ll find videos, blog posts, articles, lists, and advice on ditching the resolutions.
If you’ve ever resolved to start doing something, or stop doing something, or set a specific goal, then you’re familiar with the optimism at the beginning, and probably also the depression at the end, when it didn’t work out the way you planned.
Why Resolutions Fail
One survey from Franklin/Covey found that more than three-quarters of people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them. A third won’t even make it to the end of January. In an interview with Business Insider, psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert cites three main reasons our New Year’s resolutions fail:
Your resolution isn’t specific enough
You aren’t framing your resolution positively (instead of “stop” or “don’t”, think in terms of “do”)
Your resolution isn’t uniquely about you but may be influenced by friends, family, or society
Choose one word to guide you throughout the year (like joy, serenity, discipline, flourish)
When you keep your goals smaller, they are more achievable. And, just like with exercising, if you have a buddy you connect with, you’re more likely to succeed. You don’t have to have the same goals in order to help encourage each other to stick with your own.
Instead of going to the gym, or losing weight, a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Affirm found that the majority are focusing on learning life skills, or saving money. 53 percent want to spend more time with their family, and 49 percent want to travel more. And nearly 60 percent want to cultivate a more positive outook on life.
Ditching Resolutions Could be Good for Your Health
If you are making resolutions out of pressure or obligation, either self-imposed or from others, you are setting yourself up for failure, according to Dr. Sophie Lazarus, a psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She contends that 2020 was a challenging year for most everyone. Instead of putting extra pressure on yourself for 2021, if you absolutely want to adopt a “fresh start” mentality, start small. Instead of “quit eating junk food, period”, for example, pick one day a week where you give yourself permission to eat something you shouldn’t. The weekly relief valve not only gives you something to look forward to, but it helps you stay on track the rest of the week.
But if you’re determined to make a change, increase the odds of being successful by starting small with something you know you can accomplish. As an old and wise Jedi Grand Master once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
There are basically four main learning styles for children (and adults): Visual, Auditory, Tactile, and Kinesthetic. Most children fall into a combination of styles, but you can usually identify one style that seems to be the most successful.
Four Basic Learning Styles
Visual Learners learn through seeing. Showing works better than explaining.
Auditory Learners learn through listening. Explaining and discussing things is the best way to reach them.
Tactile Learners learn through touch. Being able to use their hands, reading, writing, and even doodling or drawing, helps them learn.
Kinesthetic Learners need to move and do. The kinesthetic learner may have trouble sitting still and needs to be able to be active in order to stay engaged.
No surprise that experts don’t all agree, and many of them break down these four basic learning styles into more specific niches. The important thing is to be able to recognize what works for your child, and use that knowledge to help them succeed.
Practical Application in the Classroom
Now imagine that you have a classroom of twenty students, and they all have slightly different learning styles that work for them. And they are all at different levels of comprehension and mastery of a specific subject or concept. It is clearly a huge challenge to try to meet those individual needs and ensure that everyone in the class is “getting it”.
If you are the parent of a student who may be struggling to keep up, or just needs a little extra one-on-one attention to achieve mastery of a subject, private tutoring is an effective option. Even the most accomplished students benefit from having the teacher’s undivided attention to ask questions and get answers.
Pandemic Learning Loss
This is even more true over the past year where we have seen students who normally don’t have a problem in school who are now falling behind. It may be directly related to the switch to online learning, part-time school, and the inherent inadequacies of these models, or it may also be related to the social isolation, uncertainty, and anxiety they feel.
Whatever the cause, studies are showing impressive gains for students who are trying to combat COVID learning loss by receiving online tutoring. Scientific American has published data from an analysis of 96 different tutoring models, and found that “80 percent of the studies led to markedly improved outcomes, with more than half of the studies reporting large gains as a result of these programs. In education research, such consensus is a rarity, and the consistency and magnitude of the results are both remarkable and encouraging.”
An Italian study has shown that middle school students who received three hours of online tutoring a week saw a 4.7 percent boost in performance in math, English and Italian. With six hours of tutoring support, improvement doubled. They have seen similar results in online tutoring programs in the United States and the results of these different tutoring programs “suggest that tutoring is a key tool in keeping students engaged and combatting the growing COVID-19 learning loss.”
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Trained educators are able to assess a student’s performance and learning style and can adapt lessons to suit. Tutors who are subject matter experts but are not trained teachers may know their subject cold, but it doesn’t mean they are equipped to teach a struggling student.
At TutorUp, all of our tutors are certified, background-checked, experienced teachers, and we match your student’s specific needs with the perfect tutor from our database of over 3,000 professionals. We facilitate the matchup, you schedule sessions at your convenience, and the teacher/tutor provides session recaps for every tutoring session.
We have three different solutions for families looking for personalized online tutoring
To see if our online tutoring is the right fit for your student, we offer the opportunity to purchase one hour at a time, or you can take advantage of our introductory offer for new students, where you can purchase 3 hours of tutoring and get a 4th hour for free.
For students who would benefit from more than a couple of tutoring sessions, we offer package pricing at a discount from the individual session price. You can purchase 8, 16, or 24 hours and they never expire, so you can use them as needed.
Our very best value is our subscription model, where you sign up for 4, 8, 16, or 24 hours of tutoring per month, on a recurring basis. Unused hours roll over to the next month, and you may cancel anytime.