How you can help your kids learn this summer during COVID-19

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It’s natural for kids to want to relax, run, and have fun during the summer when they would normally be free from restrictions and schedules. But, while relaxation and playtime are important in recharging and reducing stress, you may be concerned about large losses in learning over the summer after a spring of home learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This summer presents a unique challenge to parents. With untimely school closures due to the pandemic, your school may have decided to extend the school year by providing your kids with additional curriculum and support throughout summer. You may also find that your plans for your kids around summer school or camp to help avoid the “summer slide” in your child’s education may no longer be available. 

Summer learning is a challenging endeavor for parents who need to work—whether on site or at home—without child care available or with stretched resources. However, try not to fret about lesson plans, tests, and the level of formal instruction you’re providing.

In a Harvard Education broadcast on COVID-19 and school closures, Jennifer McCombs of the RAND Corporation said, “We don’t have to replace every single hour, particularly when we’re giving one-on-one attention to our kids… It’s really engaged time in academic learning that’s creating the learning, not necessarily the number of academic minutes in a school day.”

Engaging your child during the summer

Learning should be well rounded. Find ways to include physical activity and social interaction in addition to the academics.

Make the most of teachable moments. Have your child hone their skills by writing notes and addressing the envelopes to mail to their friends or elderly relatives. Discuss current events, keeping in mind the age-appropriate level of topics. You may also find that talking about your work with your child not only helps them learn what you do, but also can help them understand why you may not always be able to give them your full attention while working from home.

Camouflage lessons by doing fun, everyday activities. Did you know cooking and baking involve chemistry and math skills? Planting veggies and observing backyard birds and critters are lessons in biology. Listening and dancing to music check off the art and physical education boxes. Making and flying paper airplanes involves physics.

Keep the lessons age-appropriate. While younger children will need more guidance, allow older children to do more activities independently and allow their resourcefulness to flourish.

Read, read, and read some more. Reading to children is key to their language development as well as a nice way to spend time together. If your child reads independently, have them read a favorite book while you are reading the newspaper or working. Try a contact-less book swap with neighbours by dropping off read books at one another’s doorstep. (Always follow the physical-distancing guidelines of your local health authority.)

Plan your day. Create a schedule with you and your child so they know what to expect each day.  Allow your child to select activities they enjoy. Have daily nature walks, go for bike rides, do arts and crafts, and play board games. Include sensory-type activities such as playing in the sandbox or water tables.

Check your school district’s website. As the guidelines and rules during the pandemic evolve, consider signing up to receive alerts and updates. Join any newsletter or bulletin mailing lists that may be available.

Look online for additional resources. There are endless resources available for those interesting in learning! You might find that a government resource, a museum website, or a YouTube video has additional information to make learning dynamic and fun for your child. There are also educational resources available that differ within provinces and territories. If you think a lesson might be fun to come back to, bookmark it in your web browser.

The pandemic is a time of change and we all need to adjust to the ways that education will be implemented moving forward. This is a stressful time for all; so, do remember to have some fun with your children this summer!

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