Over the past few months, we have been inundated with information that seems to change almost daily, making it hard to resolve what should and should not be done. Everyone has their thoughts and feelings about varying current debates, especially regarding starting school. And while there will be no answer that satisfies everyone in the short term, we must remember that children will return to some form of school, either online or brick and mortar, so it is essential that we prepare them intellectually for what will lie ahead to counteract any learning loss already exhibited.
As it happens during the summer each year, it is no surprise that most children have experienced even more learning loss when coupled with the “COVID slide.” The abrupt switch to online learning created a disrupted ability to focus for a lot of children, and lack of resources at home caused even more achievement gaps for many. As we approach a new school year, students will return at varying levels, and most will need extra support to get back up to grade-level work. However, schools must avoid the “cognitive cram” since this will lead to more stress and anxiety. This counterproductive approach to remediation can be even more detrimental to children’s ability to learn and retain information.
Instead, schools should offer a different approach by providing a safe way to ease back into learning. More positive neural connections will be made by advancing this way, which will lead to better retention of learned material. Making learning fun will get the brain warmed up and primed for learning. This will be key in getting children back to their current grade level. And yes, this is a big undertaking for teachers and parents, so they must reach out to community resources for help. A collaboration with youth services and enrichment activities will increase the chances of children recovering their learning loss at a quicker rate.
The SKILLZ program is a progressive child development method that uses cutting-edge brain training to help make the neural connections necessary to gear up the brain for learning. By starting now in a program such as this, parents can take a more preventative approach to any additional learning loss their child may experience in the weeks left of summer. But in addition, children engaging in the SKILLZ program will build connections in the brain, but they will also release dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These positive brain chemicals help alleviate anxiety and depression and give children a more optimistic approach to dealing with the pandemic’s current state.
As children prepare for a return to learning, it is essential to start taking preventative measures to reduce further learning loss. By engaging in programs that sharpen their skills before school starts, children’s brains will be ready for learning and recover faster. And since an engagement with online learning was unbalanced, parents need to ensure that there are plans to make all education and development a priority. As they do this, plans that get students back on track academically should make space for social and emotional learning.