Will my child ever catch up after lockdown?
This Month's Ask the Teacher
Q. Will my child get left behind? What if they forget everything they have learned? What if these learning gaps impact them for the rest of their lives?
A. These are but a few of the questions I have been receiving on a regular basis from anxious parents worried about the impact of the past year on their children’s education. It should not be that such worries haunt us, fed by statistics of assessment, when all that matters is the health and wellbeing of our children’s development.
Health and Wellbeing vs Statistics
Part of my mission as an educator in Scotland is to cultivate within your children the desire to be lifelong learners. But this is part of my own belief system as much as it is a part of the Curriculum for Excellence. So, how strange that we attempt to instil a love and enthusiasm for learning within our children by consistently causing them to feel anxiety about being ‘good enough’ or being ‘on track’!
If you walk into any classroom on any given day regardless of the year group, you would observe that each child within that class is working at their own pace and within their own stage. Every child is on their own individual learning and developmental journey therefore, the notion of ‘being behind’ dissipates. Ideologies that promote comparison of oneself against external constructs (be it a person, statistic, etc.) are profoundly psychologically damaging and aids the development of poor mental health.
Our children should not measure their self-worth against scores. They are so much more than that, and if they are enabled to recognise this, their potential will flourish.
Supporting your Child’s Learning
Having said this, there are ways to approach a return to learning that are both beneficial to your child’s education as well as supportive of positive mental health. If you ever wonder why schools put so much emphasis on reading at home, it is because reading is the single most impactful literacy task you and your child can partake in. Reading develops your child’s ability to decode words, soak in new vocabulary which they can then transfer to their writing, expand their knowledge of people, places and situations, empathise with a character and consider their own position in the world. Reading is fundamental and a fantastic way to encourage children to engage in their learning in a simple and pressure-free manner. An element of choice in the texts they read is critical. Not only does personal preference allow children to feel more connected with the reading material, it also cultivates a sense of autonomy because the child feels responsible for their learning and the choices they are making.
Children learn best when they do not even realise they are learning; so the same simple approach should be taken when engaging in maths and numeracy. There is no need to be sitting completing worksheets and textbook exercises. Try educational board/computer games, even just watching educational videos on YouTube as a gentle way back into learning. Any engagement is good engagement and children should be praised and rewarded for their efforts. None of this can be classed as ‘missing school’ because it is not ‘missing learning’.
What Matters Most
Give your children a break from worrying about how they’re going to make it in this world. Allow them and yourselves to be rewarded for the incredible resilience we have all shown in the face of adversity over the past year. Emotional wellbeing is the foundation that underpins our children’s ability to succeed academically. Strong relationships are the foundation of success within education. Before jumping straight to the revision textbooks, allow your children the opportunity to be with their friends, see their teachers, settle back into their lives. The learning will follow.
Lydia Scaltsas: Experienced Primary Teacher & Private Tutor
Graduated from University of Strathclyde with a 1st Class Honors in BA (Hons) Primary Education.
Registered with the General Teaching Council (GTCS)
Owner and Private Tutor at LS Tuition: lydias-tuition.co.uk
Instagram: @lydias_tuition (https://www.instagram.com/lydias_tuition/)
Facebook: @LSTuition (https://www.facebook.com/LSTuition)