How School Closures Have Affected Students and How to Move Forward
Submitted by GROZA LEARNING CENTER
Special to the Palisadian-Post
Though the past few months may have felt like summer, with students staying home instead of heading out to school each morning, vacation is now officially here; which means it’s time for us to truly assess what the pandemic has meant for our students’ education.
Between March 16 and March 30 alone, 40,000 high schoolers in LAUSD were not in regular contact with their teachers, and 15,000 were entirely absent and turned in no schoolwork at all, according to data released by officials. Data was withheld for middle and elementary school students, who often require even more hands-on support and likely saw greater lapses in attendance and performance.
The message is clear: Students are not learning at their normal rate in this new reality and many will fall behind next year if additional support is not provided.
Large online classroom settings have not been conducive to many students’ learning needs: Shy students get lost and are unable to keep up with the work, while energetic students wander away from the computer and miss the lesson entirely. Especially for students who struggle with attention or hold learning differences, distance learning has created massive gaps in their knowledge.
Additionally, summer vacation means “summer learning loss,” a natural process whereby students who do not engage in educational programs during school breaks lose knowledge from the previous year, which will be exacerbated in those students who struggled to learn online this past term.
Non-cognitive development is also negatively impacted by the change in setting: School is where we learn life’s important lessons, from socializing to consequences to perseverance to patience. Younger students, for whom this type of brain development is especially closely tied to their environment, will particularly suffer from the lack of structure and direct support from an educator.
No teacher—no matter how incredibly generous and creative, as our heroic local educators have proven themselves to be—can be expected to connect with students online in the intimate and individual way that in-person learning allows. As LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said: “The harder part is establishing a connection to the student. And I don’t mean a digital connection. I mean that human connection … ”
What can we do?
For parents who want to take on homeschooling responsibilities for the summer to help their student progress but don’t know where to start, here are a few suggestions:
- Begin by assessing your student’s actual level by using online assessment quizzes and reviewing their grade-level’s Common Core standards.
- Create a daily schedule that you and your student can work within, so you both know when they are in school and when they are free to enjoy summer.
- Build a goal calendar that works backward, starting with all of the learning goals that must be reached by the time school starts again in August and working backward to schedule out when you will cover each subject.
- Create a tracking document where you can both write down what you achieved that day, and what your goals are for the next.
Building these clear structures will ensure that your student is progressing, while still protecting that valuable summer vacation time.
But not all parents have the ability to become full-time teachers, nor should they be expected to—teachers are highly trained professionals. Luckily, highly trained educators are available to help bolster local students’ learning. Education centers like Groza Learning Center provide safe and intimate in-person and online lessons to help students make up for time lost.
At Groza, expert educators administer assessments and then create individual learning plans for each student based on their strengths and their gaps and adapt every lesson to suit the student’s learning style and needs. This ensures that the student not only reaches the necessary goals, but they are doing so in a fun and engaging way that accounts for their individuality and allows them to build that vital connection with someone who can help them learn those big life lessons.
The future of in-person schooling is uncertain for public and private schools alike. LAUSD’s Beutner has announced his firm intent to resume school on August 18 and introduced plans for hybrid learning that combines online and in-person classes. But outside programs, like Groza and others, can provide students and parents the support they need to ensure that children bridge their gaps and return to school motivated and moving forward, no matter the location.
For more information, visit grozalearningcenter.com.
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