Sam’s mom and dad stood on the sidelines with a handful of his classmates’ parents as field day winded down. The conversation turned to how some parents felt their kids had caught up after COVID, while others were unsure."My boy still can’t wait his turn on anything." "Our daughter just won’t pick up a book on her own." "The twins have caught up like it never happened." "I was a helicopter parent before, now I have overcorrected toward neglect." It went on. Most families I work with sound like this, wondering if catching up has, or ever might, happened.

Last spring, researchers released their Education Recovery Scorecard under the sobering title: “Parents Don’t Understand How Far Behind Their Kids Are in School.” They set opposing findings against each other: A Pew survey of parents in late 2022 found that only 26 percent thought their children were behind, while the scorecard found the average student in the spring of 2022 was half a year behind in math and a third of a year behind in reading. The discrepancies were worse for less-resourced families, but hardly anyone escaped the slowdown that affected far more than test scores. Parents were under enormous stress, death was on the screen of every device, and the world was shaped by the real fear that COVID could touch someone nearby. Drastically reduced social activities—in school and out—during lockdown and quarantine were particularly harmful across the developmental spectrum. It is now crystal clear, as stated in the report, “The pandemic was a public health and economic disaster that reshaped every area of children’s lives.”

Is There Any Way to Fix This?
Neither parents nor teachers can accelerate the learning skills of a child’s brain. Language, vocabulary, math, and even reasoning all grow a child’s learning sequentially. There are no shortcuts to brain growth, memorizing, or mastery of new material. When schools reopened, most children returned to learning at the rate they had learned before the pandemic. Many schools added tutoring and some summer programming which helped, but the scorecard researchers urged schools to use their federal money to extend their year, offering summer programs that address curricular enrichment, athletic, and social programming for students across the developmental spectrum.

Such institutional support would go a long way to replacing what the pandemic took from our kids academically and socially, and it will take longer than most of us would like. But parents have a larger impact on replacing pandemic-related emotional and social losses than many might realize. Beyond supporting weekend and summer learning opportunities, the way you are with your children has the potential to stabilize and support them in the ways that the pandemic weakened. Some helpful trends that are emerging in families with younger children:

By employing these strategies, parents can support their child’s social, emotional, and academic growth and help mitigate any lingering developmental effects of the pandemic.

References

Parents Don’t Understand How Far Behind Their Kids Are in School, May 11, 2023

The impact of Covid-19 on student achievement: Evidence from a recent meta-analysis. Educational Research Review Journal. 2023.

QOSHE - Post-Pandemic: Will the Kids Ever Catch Up? - Kyle D. Pruett M.d
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Post-Pandemic: Will the Kids Ever Catch Up?

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06.03.2024

Sam’s mom and dad stood on the sidelines with a handful of his classmates’ parents as field day winded down. The conversation turned to how some parents felt their kids had caught up after COVID, while others were unsure."My boy still can’t wait his turn on anything." "Our daughter just won’t pick up a book on her own." "The twins have caught up like it never happened." "I was a helicopter parent before, now I have overcorrected toward neglect." It went on. Most families I work with sound like this, wondering if catching up has, or ever might, happened.

Last spring, researchers released their Education Recovery Scorecard under the sobering title: “Parents Don’t Understand How Far Behind Their Kids Are in School.” They set opposing findings against each other: A Pew survey of parents in........

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