South-Western Subject Matter: Don’t let ‘summer slide’ take hold

Margaret Towery
South-Western City School District

Consider for a moment what you have learned since March 2020?

Did you learn how to navigate video meetings? Did you master sourdough bread? Did you have insights about your place on the planet in the midst of so many issues? I haven’t come across an adult who hasn’t learned in the past 15 months.  

Margaret Towery

Our children also are learning. There is a common idea among educators that all children can learn. I’ve never liked that phrase. Because I know that all children learn. They just do; they are hardwired to learn, and the pandemic has not stopped this. Some are learning how to be resilient in the face of changing circumstances. Some are learning how to be safer online or how to navigate personal space when the family is at home 24/7. Some are learning how to take care of a sibling or a pet, and some are learning how to produce and star in an amusing TikTok video.

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Of course, it is true that school has been disrupted during the pandemic, and that has been a great struggle for most of us, but school is not the only kind of learning in this world. We can be sure that our students will catch up quickly to the school types of learning that were challenging during the pandemic because they have been learning all along.

Here are three things you can do this summer to position your students for success at school:

Affirm our humanity matters. When the world tells you or your family that there is something wrong with you, don’t believe it. Develop a practice of noticing what your children have learned and what they are doing well and remind them of these things. They belong here and will learn the things they need, even if they’re not there yet.

Emphasize that becoming a reader matters. Read something as a family; give the gift of books; go to the library; read signs, recipes, mail and news. Every kind of reading counts. We have a new resource called Beanstack, which is an easy and fun way to keep track of reading and earn digital badges. Find it at beanstack.com/swcsd.

Stress that all learning matters. Watching how-to videos, creating art or music, talking to family about the old days, playing a sport or just being active, learning a new skill -- all of these things keep the brain active and learning. The more experiences one has, the more confidence is developed, and these experiences even contribute to reading success.

As a community, we are learners. Students will have a variety of summer learning opportunities provided to them. Let’s endeavor to celebrate all kinds of learning with confidence that the coming academic year will be one of care, belonging and academic success.

Margaret Towery is the curriculum coordinator for the South-Western City School District.