Well, here we are in November and we are still dealing with the Coronavirus! The majority of our students are engaged in in-person learning even though we have had some rolling quarantines due to exposure. Each time we learn of a new positive COVID case or a probable positive due to exposure, it takes an entire team hours to contact trace, determine an exposure cohort and identify exactly who needs to be on quarantine and who can remain in-person. Many districts around the state are making decisions to transition their whole district to remote learning, but we are committed to ensuring as many students and staff continue with the learning model that they selected.
There is quite a bit of discussion in the education world about what these new COVID-era learning models are doing to the retention of learning. Many educational experts are calling this loss of learning the COVID Slide. We have improved our online and remote learning practices tremendously since March, but we know that most students learn best in the classroom with a qualified teacher guiding them. So what can we do to try to narrow the gap of learning and reduce the “COVID Slide”?
Surrounding children with rich language and engaging topics is the most important way families can limit regression due to COVID and maintain growth in their student’s literacy at this time. Students of all ages should be reading daily at their independent reading level. They should be reading things that are of interest to them and keep them engaged. Non-fiction reading is just as important (and in some way more important) than fiction or stories. Reading should not be what happens when the rest of a student’s homework is finished. It should not be the afterthought or the dessert. Reading should be the main course! The Montrose Public Library is open for business and I encourage you to take your children and check out some books that they are excited about! You may find a book that interests you as well. Modeling the love of reading is critically important for children!
Another very easy way to reduce the COVID Slide is to engage your children in conversation. That’s right, just talk to them. Find something interesting and have a conversation. Introduce them to new ideas or topics and use the vocabulary that is connected to that topic. Let them ask questions and wonder. It’s okay not to have all of the answers to their questions; you can find a book at the library or an objective reference online and find the answers together. Imagine what could happen if your child learned just one new vocabulary word a day by engaging in a conversation with you.
There have been a lot of new tasks and responsibilities put on parents and families this year as you monitor and support your child with remote/online learning. Some of you are also working full time jobs from home, in addition to the dual responsibilities of being a parent and instructional coach for your child. Sometimes work is sent home that parents don’t understand and some worksheets can be tedious and frustrating. Everyone is doing the best that they can, considering these pandemic circumstances.
At MCSD, we will continue to reach out and engage families as partners in their child’s learning. Every effort counts. Please consider making reading and conversation two intentional parts of your everyday routine. I promise the payoff will be worth it!