Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Summer Tools to Prepare for School in the Fall

 As the age for vaccine eligibility falls and COVID rates decline, schools throughout the U.S. are moving away from remote instruction to in-person learning this fall. Here in New York City, all public schools will be fully in-person in September and there will be no remote learning options.

A year and more of online instruction has made it difficult for many students to make the kind of progress they would have made if they were attending school in-person every day. Some students were able to thrive during online instruction, but for those who struggled, we have some suggestions for tools that can be used during the summer to build skills in math and writing and get ready for the fall.


We often recommend two software programs to help children build math skills. 

Dreambox, for grades K-8  adapts to your child's skill level. Using your child's answers to different kinds of problems, DreamBox detects which skills a student has mastered and which need more work, then provides instruction and practice in the form of games. Parents can use the Dashboard feature to monitor their child's progress. Note that the lessons in Dreambox may not align exactly with what your child is doing in school, but can help prepare your child for math lessons when school begins in the fall.

IXL, for students from pre-K through high school helps students master individual math concepts and lets parents track student progress. Students learn at their own pace and can prepare for the math skills they will need once back in school.


The best way for students to improve their writing is to write more. By using creative formats, supported by artwork, younger students will be motivated to express themselves in writing and be better prepared for the writing assignments they will face in the fall. We recommend:

Storybird - grade 1 and up
This beautifully crafted, aesthetically pleasing website-based app provides support for writing and an avenue for self-publishing.

Comic Creator - grades 3 - 8
Students can design and save or print comic strips with this user-friendly site. In addition to creating stories, it is an inviting tool for summarizing books to help improve reading comprehension. Comic Creator keeps it simple with very basic graphics and pared down options, making it great for students who may find flashy extras distracting.

 Story Jumper - grades 1 - 5

Younger students can choose between a seemingly limitless array of formats and pictures to supplement the stories they write. Books can be saved, shared, or purchased in hardcover form.

It hasn't escaped us that after more than a year, we are recommending more online instruction. But limited screen time and targeted lessons can be worth the "sitting still" time these programs require. We hope you and your student find them fun and helpful.

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