As the end of a school year approaches, you may find that most stressful in history for students, teachers, school staff and parents, many of us are grappling with the severe impacts on the emotional health of our kids and, in some cases, our fears virtual learning cause more loss of summer learning than normal.
For families most concerned with the academic aspect, an option that has always existed is hold a returning student and not taking him to the next level if parents or teachers feel late. There is detailed, and often varied, research on whether retaining students still has the intended impact, allowing them to catch up. In some cases, experts argue, the work selected and has no long-term negative impact on a student well-being or success. Others argue that moving students to the next class and then supplementing their learning in class with additional resources is a better option to enable them to catch up with their academic delay without falling behind socially.
The pandemic has added several layers of complications to this already difficult decision. For children who have ever felt isolated or had emotional health issues, the added stress of having to repeat a grade could have an additional impact on their sense of being. well-being.
Lori Day is an education consultant who works with students and families to navigate educational decisions. Day notes that parents should consider several factors before making the decision to retain their student this year or any year., including their age, social and emotional maturity, and how the children themselves would feel to be held back.
“The stigma is worse for older children than for younger ones, especially when a repetition makes a child much older than their peers,” Day says.
Here are some other considerations and conversations parents should have when making their decision.
Give priority to rest and fun for children at present
No one needs a reminder, but the pandemic has been tragic and burdensome. This doubles for children who have been isolated from their friends, unable to participate in extracurricular activities, have loved ones potentially lost and have their well-being has been politicized in dialogues about when and how to resume face-to-face teaching. Day recommends that parents keep this toll for children in mind and give them time this summer to recharge their batteries.
“I think parents should make their children’s mental health a priority as summer approaches,” Day says. “Let them play, go to camp, have play dates and spend unstructured time, preferably off-screen. ”
Day also notes that it is important to recognize that, to some extent, most children who return to face-to-face teaching fall degree of learning loss and need to catch up. “Unless there is an aggravating reason besides losing ground academically due to the pandemic and distance education, I recommend parents don’t hold their children, ”she says.
School districts are aware of this challenge and will have mechanisms in place to provide additional assistance. Teachers and staff will prepare for these challenges in anticipation of students needing extra support in the fall.
“The teachers are well aware that the students have struggled in the past year, as they have experienced themselves and as their own children,” Day says. “It’s been a really tough year. Have confidence that teachers will plan for an influx of students in September who haven’t really thrived on Zoom. They will assess them, gauge their skills and adjust the program accordingly. ”
The prospect of catching up with students in subjects like math or reading is easier than assessing where children are emotionally.
“I hope that schools will be able to provide more counseling services than they are used to providing, because children will need it and private counseling is often expensive and hard to find,” says Day.
Stephen Merrill, Content Manager for Edutopia, an organization that promotes innovation in K-12 education, writes that focusing too much on learning loss rather than on students’ emotional health when they return to class would be a “historical error“:
The need to rebuild the frayed social fabric of our learning communities, which, study after study, is fundamental to real learning, should be of primary concern.
The consequences of getting our priorities wrong and putting content before the child are serious and long term.
Do not make a decision without the contribution of the student
Children are not likely to volunteer for selection, especially given the stigma associated with not performing well academically and the prospect of seeing their peers and friends advance a year. Not only should parents engage children in the discussion in an age-appropriate way, but they should also frame the conversation in a positive way. so that the student understands it as a useful tool rather than as a punishment.
“Children in their late elementary, middle and high school years should be involved in the decision,” Day said. “They need to feel that they have a voice and they need to buy in, otherwise they could sabotage their own success if they get angry, irritated or feel punished.”
Day also notes that it’s easier to make the decision to repeat a grade if the child also changes schools, making them less likely to be noticed by their peers.
“Staying in the same school and watching your friends move up to the next grade without you is painful for older kids,” she says. “If it is not possible or desirable to change schools – and even if it is – parents should frame the decision as being in the best interests of the child and not as a reflection on his or her intelligence or aptitudes.
Take advantage of available resources
Parents need to understand that they are not solely responsible for the children who overcome learning losses during the pandemic. Teachers can also make a huge difference. Merrill notes that simple actions by teachers, like greeting students at the door, can increase academic engagement in the classroom by up to 20 percent. Teachers who understand that emotional well-being is more important than academic success right now will be an important factor in helping children who start the next school year late.
Whether it’s a parent, teacher, or other support system, simply showing children that there are adults who care about them is vital right now. Harvard University research shows that children are resilient and can recover from serious difficulties much more easily if they have at least one stable and supportive adult in their life.
Connect kids with fun activities like outdoor summer camps that make learning engaging and fun can also be a way to reconnect them and boost their academic success when they return to school. There are also one-on-one or group tutoring services in most communities, although Day advises parents not to jump too quickly to this solution. Children understand their parents’ fears, so if parents continually worry about their student being late, the student will realize it.
“This makes them more prone to anxiety and depression than they already are, especially during this unusual and stressful pandemic year,” Day said. “I want to stress that academic success is not the most important thing right now. These children will be fine. Most of them will catch up, and they are in the same boat as many, if not most, other children.