San Antonio – Distance learning is already taking a toll on how children learn and retain information.
The academic decline that takes place when kids are on summer break, known as the Summer Slide, has now turned into the COVID-19 Slide. LaShaude James, owner of Mathnasium of the Dominion and Alamo Ranch, says he used to see kids about three to six months behind in their math skills, but it’s now turned to six to 12 months behind.
“We’ve seen students that are close to a year behind in their math understanding. They’re not understanding fractions, they don’t understand what word problems are,” James said. “They’re frustrated when it comes to some multiplying division tricks that they were sure that they knew last year.”
He says studies have shown that it’s impacting math more than reading. And, he’s seeing elementary and middle school students struggling the most, since they are in the process of learning new skills.
James believes education leaders know that this COVID-19 Slide is and will be a problem ahead.
“I think that’s reflected also in the fact that they canceled the STAAR tests at the end of last year. And they also canceled the STAAR tests at the end of this year,” James adds. “Which to me seems like an indication that we all agreed that, ‘hey, we’re not on pace with where we should be at.’”
James says some kids are self-motivated to learn, but most are not and need to watch someone solve problems and be coached. Parents should know their own child and know when to step in.
“Parents' mentality right now, they have a wait and see mentality. You want to wait and see how things are going to go at the beginning of the year,” he said. “As they continue this wait and see approach, I think what they’re going to find is that their child is behind.”
David Leister is considering math tutoring for his 11-year-old daughter.
“I think that, that face-to-face contact, makes a difference. And we want to kind of get ahead of this until she gets back on campus,” Leister said. “There’s just a lot of risk to just kind of get by on the homework, but they’re not learning anything. So that’s a real concern.”
James said the biggest investment parents can make right now is to help ensure their child stays ahead. He recommends a minimum of two to three hours of safe one-on-one tutoring a week.
“My caution is just don’t wait. Don’t wait to see if things are going to get better. You want to get ahead of this problem,” James adds.
Check with your child’s school district to see what type of tutoring services they have available.
James said because of social distancing, tutoring facilities have had to limit the number of students they see at their facilities.
They used to be able to attend 30-40 students at a time. That number is now reduced to about nine to 12 students.