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  • Sasha Moonilal

Pandemic Learning Loss: How to Help Your Kids Catch up

Updated: Feb 14

The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to affect many aspects of our lives, including education. This school year will be the fourth academic school year that has been affected by the pandemic and a lot has changed since March 2020. With the new challenges that arose, such as virtual learning and many missed days of school, students have struggled to make the most of the last few school years. With in-person learning becoming the norm again, it is becoming apparent that many students are facing “pandemic learning loss”, or in other words, have fallen behind on the curriculum, making every new school year a little bit harder.

What is pandemic learning loss?

Essentially, the term “learning loss” refers to any specific or general loss of knowledge and skills, most commonly due to extended gaps in a student’s education (The Glossary of Education Reform). The idea of learning loss is not exclusively tied to the pandemic and has been discussed for many years. Summer break is a classic example of students experiencing learning loss as they take a break from school, and forget important curriculum they learned in the previous school year. Learning loss makes the future school year come with more challenges, having to catch up alongside learning new things. The pandemic brings learning loss to a whole new level, and both students and teachers were not adequately prepared for the reality of it. One analysis showed that the impact of the pandemic on K-12 student learning was so significant that it left students, on average, 5 months behind in math and 4 months behind in reading by the end of the 2020-2021 school year (McKinsey, 2021)

3 Tips to help your kids catch up:

So, what can you do as a parent to ensure your child's success during the 2022-2023 school year and beyond? Here are 3 expert tips to help your child catch up and mitigate the effects of pandemic learning loss.

1. Make learning fun at home

Catching up on lost learning opportunities does not have to be boring. Making learning fun at home is the best way to keep your child engaged and motivated to learn. There are many ways to engage your child in educational ways such as watching documentaries together, doing hands-on science projects, creating a reading challenge, or even playing challenging board games like Scrabble. A great tip is to let your child lead in their learning. If they are more inclined to watch interesting documentaries, focus on that. If they would rather play a math-based computer game, then that’s the way to go. Giving them the freedom to choose their activity will ultimately keep them more engaged and happy to learn!

2. Close the gaps with extra study tools

Whether it's an educational app, video, study manual or crash course, utilizing extra study tools and resources is a great way to catch up on missed learning. Study tools can help you review what you've previously learned, go in-depth on what you are currently learning, and even get ahead for the upcoming curriculum. Plus, it's a bonus if you use study tools with practice questions and formula sheets that help you apply your learning and get the most out of studying.

3. Professional tutoring

Professional tutors can help identify specific gaps in your child’s learning and tailor tutoring lessons and programs to fit their individual needs. One-on-one support is extremely helpful and can be that final push in helping your child feel confident about their next school year. We’ve got you covered here at Ottawa Tutoring! Our professional tutors work with your kids using the Ontario curriculum to ensure they have filled any gaps that may exist in their learning.

The effects of the pandemic extend beyond learning

Academics were not the only thing affected by the pandemic. Students experienced social isolation, grief, and uncertainty that inevitably took a toll on their mental well-being. One study found that both children and college-level students reported feeling more anxious, depressed, fatigued and distressed than prior to the pandemic (Child Psychiatry and Human Development). We must prioritize the mental health and well-being of our children, alongside their school work. Easy ways to do this include:

  • Talking about mental health with your child, and encouraging them to speak up if they need help

  • Taking time to celebrate your child’s victories, whether that’s in school or their personal lives

  • Encouraging healthy routines, such as eating a well-rounded diet, spending time outdoors, and moving their body

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