If we are honest, there are a lot of things to be stressed about when we think about how our kids are doing after enduring a clear disruption to their schooling. But before you let the panic pile on, here are some things families should consider concerning their child’s academic success post-pandemic:
1. Your child has been through a very difficult time and may be experiencing academic fatigue. Although there may be some anxiety concerning how much instruction was lost due to the pandemic, be encouraged that your child is on the road to academic recovery. Social, emotional and academic development are connected. With children returning to normal routines and experiencing increased human interactions, they will inevitably receive one of the major benefits of social emotional learning as schools focus on the whole child . . . improved academic performance.
Check in and ask how you can help her/him feel seen, heard, valued, safe and supported while learning at home or at school. You can also ask your children how they would like to spend some time recovering before the school year starts and help them explore ideas.
2. You are not failing your child. If there are any thoughts of failure regarding your efforts or your child’s efforts, remember that you did your best during this crisis. School districts across the state and nation were challenged with trying to meet the diverse needs of its students during the pandemic. Those efforts and outcomes varied, and the full impact is yet to be seen.
Prior to the pandemic, Kentucky schools were struggling to meet the academic and social emotional needs of students. The pandemic has offered an opportunity to expose the struggle and explore solutions.
Expanded learning (also known as extended learning) is an effective strategy that assists students in closing learning gaps. Your child may receive these services at school and/or there may be community programs offering expanded learning near you. Contact your local school and community agencies to ask about extended learning opportunities. Most of these programs are free due to federal Covid-19 relief funding.
3. Your child’s school/community is receiving a lot of money. These funds (approximately $2 billion in emergency/relief funds) are dedicated to help Kentucky children recover academically, mentally and emotionally from the negative impact of Covid-19. Each school district has to determine how they will use federal and state funds to address these needs.
4. Your voice matters. Share your insights on what is needed to better support your students during this transition. How should your school district invest these new federal funds? Remember, you are the expert on your child. You can share your input by completing surveys, attending community meetings, or contacting your school district and local school board members. Each district is required to receive feedback from the community and submit their proposed budgets by July 31, 2021.
5. Your choice matters. You have options to choose the best learning environment for your child. Due to forced remote learning for most school districts across Kentucky last year, many students now have the option to continue learning remotely or return to in-person instruction.
Families are also considering other learning environments that may better accommodate their children’s needs. In addition to remote and in-person public school, some students are choosing to attend homeschool or private schools.
Regardless of which setting you select, remember that you are one of their best and most admired teachers. You have been through a whole pandemic (that is still lingering). Pause. Take time for you.
We salute you and hope that you will take some time before school starts to celebrate the fact that you and your child made it through! There is still work to be done, but we are here for it. Let’s keep waking up and showing up for our children.