The academic Covid-slide and how to avoid it

by Anita Naik

With the pandemic keeping most secondary school students out of school, many are worried about the inevitable COVID grade slide. While it is difficult to assess what missing months of school will realistically mean, research on summer learning loss can offer some ideas.

Summer learning loss often shows steeper declines in mathematics than in reading, do occur over the summer. Using this as a basis, Preliminary COVID-slide estimates suggest many students will return in autumn 2020 with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading and mathematics, alongside issues with motivation and anxiety.

This is worrying for all years, and while you can't replicate what happens at school, there are ways to keep your child supported and motivated at home.

Keep on top of home learning

It's hard when you are also working from home but making sure your child is keeping up with work is vital. So too is ensuring that their school is giving bespoke qualitative feedback. Comments on schoolwork should provide insights into your child's work and clear explanations for them. Not only will this help with learning, but also with motivation. If this isn't happening, contact the school and ask for it.

Concentrate on skills improvement

You may not be a teacher, but you can still help with skill improvement with workbooks and tutors.Encourage your child to ask questions about the topics they are learning and also to ask you for help. If you can't help, contact their teachers for extra guidance and search out the websites that support the key stage you are working on.

The government has a list of online resources per key stage for English, Maths and Science that offer up everything from videos to downloadable questions categorised by topic and predicted grade suitable for students.

Focus on maths

Make sure your child knows the basics: Time tables, addition, subtraction, multiplication & division. They also need to understand the language of maths because a solid understanding of the terminology is vital to succeeding. This booklet produced by the NCETM (National College for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics) can help.

Another way to help is with the understanding of mathematical questions. Knowing what needs to be done is often the source of most difficulty with students. It can help to break the problems down and ask your child what do you know from the question? What do you need to do here, and what skills do you have to solve it?

Encourage reading

Reading is key to all subjects so where possible, encourage your children to read daily. For good books, look at our blog post on smart reads.Reading on any device and a range of texts from fiction to non-fiction and news will do as it all works towards helping them improve their writing and comprehension skills.

Suggest they learn new tech and media skills

For motivation, it's also an excellent time to teach your children new skills, and even utilise any knowledge you can pass on. Good areas to focus on are:

Making and editing their videos on Vimeo.

Learning how to use design programmes like Sketch.

Suggesting the make a website via Squarespace.

Learn to code. The ability to code and have knowledge of a programming language is increasingly becoming more sought after by employers in all industries. A good programming language to start on is Python.

Start a podcast on podbean.

Write a personal blog or opinion piece on Medium.