Education for our children has seen some major changes in 2020. You remember what it was like. In what seemed like an instant, every students’ world (and the worlds of their parents) got complicated as the pandemic caused so many changes. With school closures or throw-together virtual school solutions, parents and teachers were left scrambling – juggling teaching, tech support, work, homework, and so much more.
And kids? They were left trying to learn curriculum in very abnormal settings.
How has your child’s learning been impacted by all of this? Every family and every student has faced different struggles, but research shows that most students are behind where they would be if the pandemic never happened.
For some covid-related learning loss has been minor, but for others the gaps in achievement will take longer to narrow and close. Demographics play a factor into which students are further behind and will have the hardest time catching up.
There is, however, an important piece of data that spans race, region, and income level: students are more behind in math than in other subjects. And considering that math, along with reading are the main foundational subjects that prepare your child for future learning, that is a problem!
Parents’ Approach Makes a Difference
It is definitely sad (and little concerning) that kids’ mathematical learning is being hit so hard by the pandemic. Luckily there are tons of resources to for parents to help their child with math gaps. Research suggests that students who have parents that take active roles in their math education are less likely to fall behind. Here are some evidence-based suggestions of how you can do to help your student thrive academically during COVID-19.
Provide Adequate Resources
The very first thing that your student needs to be successful in learning are the proper resources and environment. Try to think if there is something that you could provide her with that would make her schoolwork easier for her (and for you).
- Would a small white board help her in math class?
- Does a tablet work better or is a laptop easier to type on?
- Is she able to upload pictures of completed assignments easily?
Often schools can work with you to get your child the tech support needed.
Once you’ve considered what materials your student might need, focus on creating an environment that fosters learning.
- Does your son work best in a clean, quiet space?
- Does listening to background music help him concentrate?
Some kids learn best when they are alone and free from distraction while others benefit from a more social environment. Pay attention to when your child seems to do his best work and then figure out how you can recreate that setting when he’s doing homework or remote school.
Consider signing your child up for a supplemental math program, like Wonderland Math to help them stay motivated and keep progressing. With a live tutor and fun games, Wonderland can help kids close the gap on any covid-related learning loss.
Create a Winning Routine
Classrooms are not just a place for learning academics, but a space for employing structure to help students thrive. Routines simplify the questions of “what to do” and “when to do” for students, and having a large amount of those variables filled in for them actually allows them to work more independently.
At-home and virtual learning can make that same kind of structure difficult to replicate. Want your daughter to be more of a self-starter with her at-home learning? By having a set time and place for her to do her work, you can help her create the habits she needs to stay on top of her work.
In addition to fostering independence, structure also provides children with a sense of security. Has your son’s behavior or emotional resilience declined at all since the pandemic? There is a good chance that building up his routine at home might help. Although he’s lacking the regimented consistency he’s used to getting at school, his need for structure can be met at home. Here are three criteria that your routine should follow:
- Keep it CLEAR:
Come up with a plan. Then write down your schedule in a place that’s easy for you and your child to find. That way it’s simple for your child to know what they should be working on, when.
- Keep it CONSISTENT:
Check in with your student every day. Were they able to stick with their routine? If you’re consistent with asking, they’ll be more consistent with following though. And that’s how math-time becomes a habit!
- Keep it FLEXIBLE:
Make improvements when you can. If things aren’t working well for whatever reason, help your student adjust their plan. Maybe they need more time to study, or perhaps having a snack while they work will keep them focus. Helping them to evaluate how well their routine is working (and making adjustments where needed) will build resilience and help them be successful.
While you’re working on creating structure, remember that children often push back at first when parents enforce new rules. You might be looking at a difficult week or two as both you and your student adjust, however in the long run the new routine will provide your child with the boundaries they need to thrive.
Wonderland Math is an easy way to provide weekly, structured math learning to your student. By providing a high-quality live tutor, common-core aligned teaching, and classes at a consistent time with the same teacher, your child will develop a math routine they actually look forward to. Having a consistent math routine will help them bounce back to their pre-pandemic performance.
Integrate Learning into Daily Life
Whether your student is involved in remote learning and is at home full-time or if you’re just helping her catch up after missing months in the classroom, you can support her by bringing up math topics at home. For younger students, consider how you can involve math as you do everyday activities with your child. Talk about fractions as they help you make pancakes. Go to the store, allow them to weigh produce, and help them calculate how much the items will cost. Ask them to compare prices on food items and help you pick the best value options. Once you’re home, have them sort, count, and put away the items you purchased.
If your student has grown out of simple arithmetic and going on trips with you to the store, there is still much you can do to support them in their math education at home.
- Ask them what they’re learning about in school and take interest. Even if it’s something that you don’t remember how to do, have them explain how they found an answer on their homework. Plus checking their homework with them will encourage them to do their best work and show that you care about their performance in math.
- Find out when they have exams and see if you can help her study. Check in with her afterward to see if she performed well or if she needs some extra help. Remember that if your student doesn’t do as well as either of you would like, she needs support. Whether that means encouragement, tutoring or setting aside a set time and place for her to study, you both want her to succeed. Notice and celebrate top scores, significant improvements, and first-rate effort.
- Provide math opportunities at home. Play games as a family that require math and deductive skills. Provide ways for your child to earn a little bit of money and teach them the basics of budgeting and finance. This article is a library of suggestions on how to integrate math learning into a home setting including with math-related video games. Wonderland Math provides math games that are not only engaging for students, but that intentionally target learning and individual skill development.
Improvement is Paramount
Whether your child is back in school or still learning from home; whether they are struggling to keep up or if their progress has just slowed down a little, one fact remains the same. The pandemic has taken a toll on students, especially in math.
Luckily for your son or daughter, having parents who put in the effort to help them succeed makes all of the difference. In fact it is the main factor that determines how much, and for how long their academic performance is impacted. And although you may not be in a position to affect public policy or speed up the vaccine rollout, you can mitigate the damage COVID-19 has on your student’s learning–all from within the four walls of your home.