Preparing Children to Return to School – An Intellectual Approach
Over the past few months, we have been inundated with information that seems to
change almost daily, making it hard to resolve what should and should not be done.
Everyone has their thoughts and feelings about varying current debates, especially
regarding starting school. And while there will be no answer that satisfies everyone in
the short term, we must remember that children will return to some form of school, either
online or brick and mortar, so it is essential that we prepare them intellectually for what
will lie ahead to counteract any learning loss already exhibited.
As it happens during the summer each year, it is no surprise that most children have
experienced even more learning loss when coupled with the “COVID slide.” The abrupt
switch to online learning created a disrupted ability to focus for a lot of children, and
lack of resources at home caused even more achievement gaps for many. As we
approach a new school year, students will return at varying levels, and most will need
extra support to get back up to grade-level work. However, schools must avoid the
“cognitive cram” since this will lead to more stress and anxiety. This counterproductive
approach to remediation can be even more detrimental to children’s ability to learn
and retain information.
Instead, schools should offer a different approach by providing a safe way to ease
back into learning. More positive neural connections will be made by advancing this
way, which will lead to better retention of learned material. Making learning fun will get
the brain warmed up and primed for learning. This will be key in getting children back
to their current grade level. And yes, this is a big undertaking for teachers and parents,
so they must reach out to community resources for help. A collaboration with youth
services and enrichment activities will increase the chances of children recovering their
learning loss at a quicker rate.
The SKILLZ program is a progressive child development method that uses cutting-edge
brain training to help make the neural connections necessary to gear up the brain for
learning. By starting now in a program such as this, parents can take a more
preventative approach to any additional learning loss their child may experience in the
weeks left of summer. But in addition, children engaging in the SKILLZ program will build
connections in the brain, but they will also release dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and
endorphins. These positive brain chemicals help alleviate anxiety and depression and
give children a more optimistic approach to dealing with the pandemic’s current state.
As children prepare for a return to learning, it is essential to start taking preventative
measures to reduce further learning loss. By engaging in programs that sharpen their
skills before school starts, children’s brains will be ready for learning and recover faster.
And since an engagement with online learning was unbalanced, parents need to
ensure that there are plans to make all education and development a priority. As they
do this, plans that get students back on track academically should make space for
social and emotional learning.
In our next blog, we will discuss how to prepare your child “emotionally” for the new school year.