Learning loss among students in elementary, middle and high school is a hot topic in the media right now, and the idea that their child might be falling behind day-after-day, month-after-month, is putting many already-stressed parents on edge. First of all, what is the definition of learning loss in the context of K-12 education? It’s a broad term used to describe various scenarios including: A true loss of learning. This is when a student previously displayed the proficiency of a skill or concept but didn’t retain it. This commonly happens during summer break, and now the pandemic is also contributing to this phenomenon. Gaps in foundational skills. For example, if your student didn’t master a math skill in middle school, they may struggle with a more complex high school math concept that uses that skill in a basic way. Knowledge gaps. Unit or annual assessment testing is usually the way parents and teachers discover that a student is missing a chunk of grade-level learning in a specific subject. Being told that your student is suffering learning loss can make you feel like a failure as a parent and your child feel like a failure at school. However, because of the pandemic, there are millions of students falling behind, and progressive educators are now using the term “unfinished learning” to describe what’s happening to many students throughout the country. If you’re worried about whether or not your student is experiencing unfinished learning for the first time because of the pandemic, or if learning loss has been a problem before and might be accelerating right now, here are some suggestions to help you assess the situation and intervene: 1. Breathe. Take a breath and remember you’re not in this alone. Many parents are extremely worried about their student’s education and mental health right now. Teachers, school district leaders, and parents like you are working together more closely than ever to support students with compassion and consistency. 2. Communicate with teachers. Teachers are grateful to hear from parents more than ever right now. Send them an email, call them, or schedule a Zoom meeting to get their feedback on how your student is doing. Are they participating in class, whether it’s virtual or in-person? Do they ask for help when they need it? Your teachers are deeply invested in the success of your student. 3. Evaluate your student’s habits. Are they showing up on remote learning days? Are they doing work on their asynchronous days? Are they reading emails from their teachers? How are they organizing themselves around schoolwork? Hybrid schedules can be tricky for both students and parents, and using a shared digital calendar or a dry erase board can help you make sure your student is following through with attendance and projects. 4. Ask for recent assessments. Most teachers and parents are finding micro assessments–meaning recent tests on bite-sized chunks of learning–more helpful than big-picture, annual standardized testing right now. Recent, short tests like quizzes and unit assessments will give you a more accurate snapshot of whether your student is keeping up with concepts or not. 5. Consider tutoring. If you find gaps in your student’s learning right now, tutoring is proven to help students catch up quickly in a specific subject. If in-person tutoring is cost prohibitive or difficult to schedule because of the pandemic, a self-paced online Tutorial can provide supplemental learning to help your student catch up and increase mastery without you having to be an expert in middle or high school subjects. 6. Recover credits. If your student has fallen so far behind in a subject that they’re at risking of failing, of if they’ve already failed a course they need, it might be time to take an online course for credit. A high-quality virtual school will have a comprehensive catalog of accredited courses including Core, Honors, AP, and NCAA-approved classes. 7. Evaluate a virtual school option. If your student is struggling with hybrid learning, attending a full-time virtual school could be an option. Especially if your student is easily distracted or stressed out by irregular schedules, having one online portal for all their schoolwork might help. This could be a virtual school offered by your school district or a private online school like ours. We are here to help all students fill learning gaps, catch up, and keep up. Please send us a message to ask your questions about how we can help your family right now.