Summer vacation is traditionally a time for kids to step away from academics and spend time with family, at camp or poolside. But the coronavirus upended this school year and Connecticut students have not physically been in class since mid-March, and that's posing fears for many families that their kids could suffer from summer learning loss.
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Connecticut Public Radio’s Diane Orson spoke with Dr. Joanne White, an education consultant with the state Department of Education, about learning loss and what families can do.
Here are highlights from their conversation:
Are you concerned about learning loss right now?
I am worried about summer loss through this extended break. Every year I worry about summer loss, in particular for our academically fragile students.
What do we know about the so-called ‘summer slide’?
What we know is that students who are doing well academically tend to over the summer gain academic skills because they are, can be, or have the opportunity to be involved in summer learning. But those opportunities are not always available to all students. So it does fall to the families under the guidance of school districts and schools to support summer learning. And so, as a state department we have the onus for providing that support and guidance.
How should families approach summer learning right now?
One of the things that we’ve developed recently is the Connecticut Learning Hub. It’s an online platform at ct.gov/sde. And our goal is to provide universal access to enrichment opportunities. We know there’s a digital divide, so right before summer started, schools ramped up in getting paper materials to parents so that families would have materials on hand.
And what would you say to parents about how to structure time with their kids at home for this?
That’s one of the really important things we’d like families to do: make space and time to engage in learning. There are no required rules.
I have a very close family friend who’s a fourth-grade teacher and once schools shut down was very successful at engaging a high percentage of her students in daily online learning. And one of the things she mentioned was at times she could hear the TV in the background, or other children talking to parents or other children in the background. So she was emphasizing that she really wished that parents would provide a space to designate for learning activities.
It would seem like this is also an important time to center some learning activities on things kids are really interested in.
That’s right. And the CT Learning Hub places an emphasis on student choice.
Again, I go back to what parents and caregivers can do: make space and time for students to engage in learning. Consistency is really important. So the question is, what can a family commit to on a daily basis to support their children’s learning at home?
CT Public is a partner in the CT Learning Hub.