Originally posted by the author in the riverjournalonline.com Road to College series.
As the school year comes to a close and summer quickly approaches, parents and students will need to assess and address a variety of emerging concerns. The abrupt switch to online learning, cancellation and adaptation of many standardized tests, and other curveballs have created unprecedented learning challenges. For many students, content gaps will likely result and continue to grow as we head into summer. By identifying and confronting these issues strategically early on, students can most effectively remain on track for the next school year.
Often overlooked, a key step in addressing content gaps is to first clearly identify them. For parents of younger students, this may involve reaching out to teachers to discuss any noticeable academic challenges your student may have exhibited over the past few months. For most, students will need to focus on 3rd and 4th quarter content, honing in on the specific topics and material that may have been overlooked or difficult to master during the chaotic transition to online learning. Utilizing available online resources, such as Khan Academy, students can build on current knowledge and practice and apply key skills or concepts. Summer can also be an excellent time for students to get ahead on upcoming topics, ensuring preparation for the content students can expect to face in the coming school year. Engaging with private academic consulting services, like Novella Prep, can also provide additional guidance to students and parents on the most productive ways to manage and direct summer learning efforts and address potential learning gaps.
While it may seem difficult to disengage students from technology through this unprecedented time, it is important to remember that learning can still involve getting off the screen. Have your student devote some time to reading (using real, paper books!), working on creative writing or art projects, journaling, or even safely exploring the outdoors. Balancing students’ screen-time with alternative activities will be essential to maintaining engaged, well-rounded learners.
For high school students, the coming months can still offer a unique opportunity to engage in a robust and interesting summer experience. Whether working on a safe and impactful volunteer project, virtual internship, or other digital experience, students can attain valuable skills and knowledge related to recent classwork, future major or career paths, or other interests. Those entering senior year should additionally use this time to get an early start on their application materials. Drafting a personal statement in advance will not only relieve stress for students before heading into the fall, but also allow time for sufficient editing and changes to be made.
As much uncertainty remains regarding the future of your student’s educational experience, taking proactive rather than reactive steps can help to address potential learning loss before it unfolds and continue to cultivate meaningful opportunities for your student.