(BPT) - Distance learning, hybrid models, social-distanced in-person — school has looked very different over the last year, and this interrupted learning has understandably impacted kids. While some children thrived learning at home, many others struggled staying on top of their learning and have fallen behind.
Cumulative learning loss from the pandemic is still unknown, but experts worry it could be substantial, especially in mathematics. According to research by McKinsey & Company, students on average are likely to lose five to nine months of learning by the end of this school year.
"Between the learning loss from the pandemic and the typical learning loss associated with summer break, many parents are concerned about their children falling behind, now more than ever," says Shannon O'Reilly, a dedicated teacher of 15 years. "Children can lose up to two months of learning over summer break alone, and that can make it even harder to catch up."
Fortunately, there are many ways to combat interrupted learning loss and help students stay on track for the upcoming school year in just 15 minutes a day:
In addition to supporting educational development, reading just 15 minutes a day can have many benefits, including boosting brain connectivity, increasing vocabulary and comprehension, and reducing stress. Check out books or download e-books from the local library. For younger kids, read out loud and ask questions to get them thinking deeper about the story. For older kids, both read the same book and then discuss it after each chapter.
Engage in grade-level skill practice
Summer Bridge Activities all-in-one workbooks from Carson Dellosa Education are affordable and packed with tons of activities to keep the learning going during the summer and to support learning during the school year. These teacher-recommended workbooks are available in preschool through grade 8. Each book features over 60 days of standards-based activities that can be completed in 15 minutes a day. Additional activities also help kids set goals and stay mentally and physically active. You can learn more at carsondellosa.com/summer-bridge-activities.
Embrace math in your world
Think about how often you use math in daily life. Now, use these examples as learning opportunities with your children. Select a recipe and cook it together, taking time to explain fractions, measurements and counting. A trip to the corner store can be fun and educational, by counting items in your cart or explaining how tax works at checkout. Even balancing a checkbook or talking about paying bills can be eye-opening and educational.
Explore armchair travel
Many museums and other historic places have extended their offerings to include free virtual visits to help encourage learning while people are at home. For example, no passport is needed when you make a virtual visit to the Louvre in Paris at louvre.fr/en/online-tours. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History offers virtual tours of current and past exhibits at naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour. Google Arts and Culture has numerous opportunities to learn about people, art and important places, including virtual tours of the White House.
Try STEAM activities
Have fun doing science, technology, engineering, art and math activities together. Who can build the tallest tower out of mini-marshmallows and toothpicks? How about creating tie-dye shirts and learning how primary colors mix to create beautiful new hues? Fill up a pool and play a game of "Sink or Float." Try growing a container garden of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Keep track of their growth daily in a garden journal.
"When activities are fun and achievable, kids will only focus on the smiles and won't even realize the important learning that is happening," says Shannon. "Whether it's an engaging workbook or a visit to a museum on the other side of the world, just 15 minutes a day can make a big difference in your child's education now and in the future."