As we approach summer, I am optimistic. A gradual return to normalcy. Travel. Beach. BBQ. The physical embrace of family members not seen for over a year. Lazy summer evenings by the fire pit. Relaxed weekend afternoons at a vineyard. The sunshine after a storm is more welcome than before it. Post-pandemic, we can all better appreciate the substance of normal life.
And yet, amid that optimism, we know that there is hard work to be done. After every natural disaster, it takes time to rebuild, and rebuild we must. For most students, this summer will be their most important thus far. Here’s why:
Even pre-pandemic, if students wanted an educational advantage, summer has always been the best time gain it. Why? Because when everyone is learning during the school year, students have to work extra hard to gain an advantage, and that advantage is likely to be relatively small. But, when most people are not learning (or are regressing) but a student continues to learn, then every piece of knowledge and increase in skill gives them an advantage. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s data in “Outliers,” those students using summers to their advantage quadrupled their advantage over those not doing so after just four summers.
Consider the difficult task students face: many have had all half-days of school for a year (for what reason did they ever have full-days if only half was necessary?), they are drained from staring passively at a computer screen for hours a day and months on end with no in-person peer interaction between classes, and many teachers are not the most adept at using remote instruction tools to teach as effectively. So students have been left to learn on their own — or to find methods and shortcuts to continue to get good grades.
For most students, their learning loss over the past year has been staggering. The almost constant refrain from students goes like this: “I learned this Math topic during the pandemic, which is why I have no idea how to do it.” Many schools switched to all open note exams, and many/most students exploited every tool to then do well on those open note exams from home: Translation apps for language classes, “Photo Math” and other Math apps to do the problems for them, Chegg to have homework and exam problems done for them, Slader to get the answers to textbook quizzes and exams that teachers use, etc, etc, etc.
Unsurprisingly, here are some quotes from students:
“My mom knows I haven’t learned anything this year.”
“I can’t go back to in-person. It would destroy my 96% average.”
But students can use this summer to learn much of, all of, or even more than what they missed. For that reason, this summer is likely to be the largest differentiator between which students are prepared for school in the fall.
What To Do
We have always offered academic enrichment, particularly over summer. But this summer is different: parents started pre-booking academic enrichment months ago. That had never happened before. But it makes sense: kids are worried about going back to in-person school in the fall and both parents and students have almost no objective idea of where students are in their learning compared to where they would have been or should be. And, at the end of the day, parents want their kids to be well-equipped and on the path to getting good jobs. I think the feelings of many parents are summed up by a mom’s recent question and entreaty to me: “What can I do? Help.”
To help ease that anxiety of both students and parents and to help students learn what they missed and even gain an advantage, we have licensed diagnostic testing for our students. All Summit Prep students from 1st to 12th grade will be able to take free diagnostic testing through us to assess their grade-level knowledge of core academic knowledge and skills. We can then use this data to target their weaknesses, customize diagnostic tests to hone in on specific skills, and re-test as often as once per week to continuously track their progress.
Please let us know if you would like your child to take a diagnostic test. Then, if they need academic support or would like to simply build upon their skills to gain an advantage, we are always happy to help.
Rain eventually turns to sunshine, tears to smiles, and perseverance into success. We are, as always, grateful for the opportunity to help empower your children to succeed in life.