The school year has finally ended in New York City and almost everyone has given a sigh of relief. The abrupt transition to online learning, with parents thrust into unfamiliar roles of teacher and monitor of their children’s schooling, the stress of the pandemic – which hit New York City early and with deadly force -- and the social and political upheaval following the murder of George Floyd and others made this a spring like no other.
Right now, no one knows what school will look like in the fall. A high school administrator has told us that his team has been instructed to come up with plans for every eventuality, including all learning to happen in school (with social distancing and masks) and all learning to continue online. The most likely scenarios are some combination of in person and online instruction, with students reporting to their school buildings for part of the day or for some days. The only thing that is certain as June winds to a close is that nothing is certain. One of the ideas for easing students' way back into school and helping to make up for lost learning is "looping", where students, especially in elementary school, move up to the next grade along with their teachers. This allows a third grade teacher, for example, to move to fourth grade with his students. The benefits to this system include knowing each student, and being aware of what the students learned -- and did not learn -- while their schooling was online. What it does not address is the fact that teachers may have taught a specific grade for a number of years and extensive preparation is needed for them to step into the curriculum of a different grade. Another possibility could be to have teachers from two grades consult together, at least early in the year, to figure out where students stand in September and what may have been lost in the months of remote learning.
There are no easy answers for families in this situation, but we can suggest some tools to use over the summer to help students get ready for whatever lies ahead in the fall. Our website has an extensive collection of resources for students of all ages, most of them free, which can help address areas of challenge, offer enrichment in an area of current interest, or let your child explore a new subject or activity to engage their imagination and build skills.
Summer is an especially good time for kids to play educational games or to learn how to keyboard. For kids who follow current events, Project Vote Smart offers age appropriate information on how our government works, what roles different elected officials play, and things to consider as the November election approaches. For the kid in all of us, the Schoolhouse Rock series on YouTube offers several entertaining videos about how the government works.
Whatever your summer plans, we hope you and your family remain safe and healthy, and wish you a Happy 4th of July!