ALBANY, N.Y. – With schools closing around the country to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus, millions of children could lose critical learning time – but there are resources to fill the gap.
Education experts say early childhood learning is critical to future academic performance. According to Betsy Zorio, vice president of U.S. Programs and Advocacy with the nonprofit Save the Children, wide-scale learning losses could be among the biggest and longest-term impacts the new coronavirus will have on children.
“During the summer, low-income children typically lose two to three months of reading progress,” says Zorio. “So, that will be dramatically increased if families don’t act now to ensure that the learning process continues.”
Save the Children has gathered online resources at ‘Savethechildren.org,’ with tips and links to help parents help their kids in pre-K through 6th grade keep learning until schools reopen.
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Zorio points out that the challenge is even greater than finding ways to keep advancing children’s reading and math skills – it’s also about coping with the isolation and boredom that can set in from being kept at home.
She says sticking to a routine can help, too.
“So, ensure that you’re keeping wake-up times and bedtimes the same, eating meals around the same time,” says Zorio, “that children are helping to set their schedule for the day, and also ensuring that they continue to have access to healthy foods and exercise.”
The toolkit also includes relaxation activities to do at home with kids, and tips to help grandparents stay connected.
Save the Children will continue to update the online toolkit in the weeks ahead. Zorio adds that, once schools can open, there will be opportunities to help kids make up for lost time.
“Summer programs are really critical to ensuring that that learning loss doesn’t happen,” says Zorio. “And after-school programs in the fall will be critical to ensuring that whatever loss was sustained during this period is closed.”