With the Stay-At-Home orders issued during April, we have now just completed 4 months of social distancing. Considering this as a huge transition for us, imagine how much more of a change it is for our little ones. As a teacher, I am a firm believer that in-person learning is the most practical and effective way for them to retain and apply their knowledge. I eventually couldn’t help but ask myself, “how do I prevent my students from falling behind?” As Deborah Stipek, Ph.D. and professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education mentioned, “how do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?” Here are some practical tips…
If students become used to the way we present our resources to them, they no longer feel the excitement that accompanies learning. Education is not a “one size fits all” experience, so it is imperative that students are being exposed to as many different types of classes as possible. Experiencing a class that explores their interest can allow students to invest in subjects they are truly passionate about! For instance, students from multicultural households may be interested in learning more about their native languages. Enrolling students in a foreign language class would be especially beneficial for them because they would be able to promote speech regulation, enhance concentration and memory, as well as improve their listening skills.
Being cooped up at home might have us looking at every passing day the same way, making it so much harder to become excited about anything. However, offering learning spaces that showcase the individuality of different subject areas can be enough for students to become excited about learning again. They may even be excited because they see their interests being represented fully enough that they can properly develop this part of their academic interest.
Learning feels the most rewarding when students have moments they can share with others. While it is important to develop an independent way of thinking, it is just as important to be receptive to another’s point of view. Maintaining peer support is important for students to develop their own perspective and to encourage open-mindedness. It could also help ease their transition from school to remote learning. Since they’re not able to physically interact with others, we must feel even more motivated to offer our students online spaces where they can still interact with other children! Connecting our children to their peers in the same age-group is surefire way to encourage consistency in their learning progress.
Allow Enough Time to Problem-Solve
We will always struggle with the potential for academic regression. We have to do our very best to remember that the process of learning is a marathon, not a sprint. We must provide our students with the flexibility to have them experience school at their own pace. With that being said, we must be firm in our desire for them to establish a routine, while creating room to examine how big of a learning load they can carry. Students need a program that is rich in content and embraces open interpretation.
Create Opportunities to Make Connections to the Lessons!
Being present in class is only the first half of creating consistency for academic progress. The remaining half is application of a lesson in tangible fashion. Children are curious; they absolutely need moments when they are able to make sense of what is being taught. Whether they are in class online or in a physical classroom, application is vital for processing and development. Kids should use hands-on learning to connect back to the concept. When my students are able to paste five feathers onto a piece of paper, I am able to see which students are comfortable with counting and which students still need my direction. Since our little ones are unable to receive immediate help from their teachers, having access to a wide array of materials is important to keep every student on track.
The comfort of following a routine and maintaining the same pace may no longer be available, but that does not necessarily mean our students are falling behind. If we, as educators and parents, shift our perspectives from being concerned about where our students are within the learning spectrum to seeing how far they can go, we can all surely press forward.
About the Author
Joyce Kim is a Preschool Aid and BümoBrain Teacher, who holds a B.A. in Psychology and Education from UC Irvine seeking to foster a strength-based learning environment.