Preparing kids this summer for ‘normal’ return to school in the fall
The past 17 months have been quite challenging for kids, especially when it comes to remote or hybrid learning.
The summer should be a transition from what kids have been doing in school this year to a much more traditional, formal way of going to school in September, according to Ronald Chaluisan, executive director of the education nonprofit think tank, Newark Trust for Education.
He said it's very important to re-establish routines for kids which is something they did not have this past year. Use the summer as a way of thinking about how to set up schedules, how to think about time spent doing work and setting up routines. Chaluisan said these are not only important for a child's own development but for their success in school.
It's also a good idea to connect children to the learning experience and routines by letting them identify with things they love to do, Chaluisan said.
Matching them to opportunities in the community in spaces that they love,will help children start the process of re-entering a more formal education process.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has asked museums, parks, libraries and other community organizations to craft what would be the most successful summer in Newark, Chaluisan said. That means aligning activities so students have those opportunities to learn.
"It's really about engaging the community, crafting opportunities for kids in spaces that they love, bringing those kids to those spaces and then helping them practice routines that's going to be necessary for them to be successful in September," he said.
Young people tend to take their clues from tehri parents. He said in order to help children, parents need to be socially and emotionally healthy themselves.
Isolation and increased usage of electronics have also hindered a child's well-being and social development. Parents can help their children re-integrate within their social circles.
Promoting conversations between kids and their parents is very important. He said ask kids questions about what they feel comfortable doing. Then work with them to slowly re-integrate with other children.
That conversation piece and really taking the lead from a child, and helping them see those small steps that will take them to full integration is important, Chaluisan said.
Parents often don't know how much they should push their children academically over the summer so they stay caught up or even ahead, going into September. Children need a break from their computer screens and allowing kids to have a summer will help ensure their emotional well-being, he said.
Parents and teachers need to collaborate to figure out where students kept up this past year, where they fell behind, and how to put together realistic programs for each young person to meet the goals that are expected of them given their age and grade, according to Chaluisan.
He also pointed out that a number of research projects have shown that very targeted tutoring for shorter amounts of time will lead to big leaps and knowledge acquisition.
The bottom line, Chaluisan said, is that a child needs to be socially, emotionally and mentally ready to learn with low anxiety. Kids should ask themselves "Is there the ability to take risks?" "Is there the ability to ask questions?" "Do I trust the person I'm working with?" All of these factors are important to accelerating learning which is the main goal, he added.