› Are Your Kids School Ready? 4 Skill-Building Strategies to Help Your Child Avoid Learning Loss
Are Your Kids School Ready? 4 Skill-Building Strategies to Help Your Child Avoid Learning Loss
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - July 30th, 2021
Here, my son Baron is following the instructions for a hands-on demonstration of our solar system from an astronomy workbook.
One of my very favorite movies of all time is the 1998 rom-com You’ve Got Mail. It’s set in a simpler time, when email was brand new and AOL with a dial-up modem was cutting edge technology. Greg Kinnear’s character waxes poetic about the uncomplicated ways of the past, when mom-and-pop bookstores (Amazon who?) were the gold standard, and typewriters ruled the school. There were no smartphones or Google or Chromebooks connecting us to the world through wifi. And he warned us all of the danger of computers and “big box superstores”: “They’re ruining our society!”
Fast forward 23 years to the 2020-2021 school year, when our children spent most–if not all–of the last school year trying their best to learn using smartphones, Google, and Chromebooks connected to wifi, all while isolated from peers and teachers. It was Greg Kinnear’s worst fears come true!
Hopefully your child adapted quickly to online learning using webcams and educational websites. But what if they didn’t? What if their technology wasn’t reliable? What if your child struggled to learn remotely? What if your child has special needs that present a roadblock to online learning? What if your child’s teacher struggled when thrown into the unknown world of remote teaching just as much as your child struggled to learn?
The good news is there are things you can do to help your child prepare academically for the upcoming brick-and-mortar school year. Here is a list of four things you can do to beef up your child’s skills and knowledge starting now and continuing into the new school year. And spoiler alert: Testing Mom can help!
My daughter Abby enjoys the variety of great courses offered online as they help her practice academic skills. Your kids can take courses in anything from writing to Python coding!
- In-Person Clubs & Activities. Enroll your child in clubs and other face-to-face activities that meet regularly and require reading, writing, imagination and/or STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mechanics). You can check out what’s happening at your local library or your city’s or township’s community learning offerings. My daughter Abby had a blast this summer at our public school district’s Dungeon & Dragons storytelling camp. It required her to create well-rounded characters and fictional stories that helped her hone the narrative writing skills she will need in her upcoming fifth-grade school year.
- Hire a Professional Tutor. Professional tutors like us here at Testing Mom can assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses and recommend a regular tutoring schedule that focuses on educational gaps your child may have in all subjects, including English Language Arts (Reading/Writing), Math, Science, and Social Studies. Tutors can even help your children with accelerated learning if they are above grade level in some areas.
- Online Classes. There is a burgeoning world of quality online learning that both help your children practice their academic skills and have a little fun at the same time. I myself teach several academic reading and writing courses for TestingMom.com, like Book Clubs and News Writing. But we also offer a slew of other high-interest online classes like Python Coding, Debate Camp, and even a Virtual Space Camp with a real-live astronaut, Dr. Thomas! In addition, membership in TestingMom.com automatically gives your child access to 35+ learning websites including Brainpop, StudyIsland, ChessKid, Scholastic sites, ReadingKingdom, Dreambox and more.
- Workbooks, Flashcards, Puzzles and Projects. There are many wonderful resources you can find online like academic skills workbooks, flashcards (You can find some great ones for purchase on TestingMom.com!), puzzles (like tangrams & pattern blocks), STEM project kits and more! Just be sure to set regular time aside for your children to work, because the more they practice their academic skills, the more successful they will be in the coming school year.
Abby is learning about shifting tectonic plates and earthquakes with this great STEM experiment using Jell-O, toothpicks and giant marshmallows.
In the end, I think Greg Kinnear’s character in the film was a bit dramatic and unnecessarily apocalyptic about our future with computers. As you can see, there are many ways, both in-person AND online, that technology can help your children achieve academic success.
Heather Wood is a certified teacher with more than 10 years of experience and a tutor/teacher for TestingMom.com. She is mother to her 10-year-old daughter who attends public school, and a homeschool mother to her 8-year-old son who has special needs.