One of the most encouraging developments of the school year just ending is the substantial improvement in our students’ reading and math scores. Coming into this year, the learning losses from the Covid-19 disruptions were real, broad-based and of serious concern. Having enjoyed 175 uninterrupted days of school this year, our students have progressed to the point where educational gaps and delays seem to be minimal and fading.
…the learning losses from the Covid-19 disruptions were real…One may wonder how the children could have been so dramatically affected by the pandemic. In our Yeshiva, we started Zoom classes within days of closing in March 2020 and we reopened for in-person learning six months later. Although there were some disruptions and a fair number of students on Zoom for much of that year, one might tend to think the learning losses could not have been so significant.
Except they were. Because they were, it behooves us to try and understand why and how it happened. Although a true understanding requires thorough researching, it seems quite reasonable to hypothesize that consistency and stability in a child’s learning on the one hand, and a strong, personal bond between teacher and student on the other, are key elements that enable children to learn successfully. They were both absent for many between March 2020 and August 2021.
…even the relatively short period of the summer with zero academics may pose a real pitfall… Why is this important to think about now? Because the nemesis of academic growth, also known as summer, is upon us! If many months on remote learning could wreak such havoc on our children’s progress, even the relatively short period of the summer with zero academics may pose a real obstacle especially for some of our struggling students. Learning cannot come to a screeching halt – we need to take steps to ensure it continues, at least minimally.
Parents are encouraged to encourage their children to read. Discuss the books your children read. Learn with your child. Discuss the parsha at the Shabbos Table. Download Parsha sheets or Parsha riddles if your children aren’t bringing them home from day camp. Go through Pirkei Avos at the dinner table. The suggestions are endless.
The Yeshiva has sent home with the children, Summer Review Packets in Kodesh and Secular Studies. Take advantage of the teachers’ hard work. Work on it daily, weekly or only periodically. It will keep your child’s mind focused on learning. Alternatively, or in addition, make the summer a time when you help your child explore different areas of learning. Learn about a nature topic, geography or calligraphy. Keep your child’s mind stimulated and learning.
Without the burden of children’s homework and strict routines, parents have more time to attend shiurim… Summer is also the time when parents can pursue their own learning. Without the burden of children’s homework and strict routines, parents have more time to attend shiurim, listen to Torah podcasts and read for themselves.
Learning needs to be a family activity. In the summer it can be a great deal of fun, while keeping our children on track to accomplish and soar even more in the year ahead, IY’H.
Have a beautiful Shabbos and a wonderful summer,
Rabbi Kalman Baumann