Pandemic changes education


(NAPSI)—Each day, as people across the country wake up and check their phones, turn on their morning news broadcast, or unfold their local papers, one clear message stares back at them: the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the trajectory of education.

Fortunately, whether that change is for better or for worse can be decided by families and students themselves—and year-round learning is one trending approach that may be here to stay. 

Year-round learning is not a new concept in K-12 education and the benefits are noteworthy. Students who stay academically engaged over the summer can get ahead in challenging subject areas, explore or expand upon their interests and build the confidence that they need heading into a new school year.

As the nation recovers from a global pandemic and the subsequent shockwaves it sent through the education system, these benefits are particularly compelling: many students need an opportunity to catch up, reengage or solidify critical skills that may have been jeopardized during the academic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

Kelsey Lichtenstein, founder of Aspen Learning Lab in Los Angeles, Calif., has been serving families in Southern California and throughout the United States for nearly 20 years. Lichtenstein noticed widespread concerns about learning loss due to the pandemic but she is confident that summer learning opportunities can serve as one solution for many students and families.

“In some places students have not gone back to school in person yet,” Lichtenstein said. “As a result, many students need to catch up, or for younger students, get extra help building key foundational skills in reading and math.”

Engaging students as they build those early skills in reading and math is paramount: they provide the foundation for the rest of a student’s academic career and shape them well into their adult lives.

 Lichtenstein says that the primary challenge for educators is generating that engagement in the first place, and finding a program with a wide variety of courses and engaging content is crucial to achieving that goal.

For students in middle school and high school, year-round learning can also help them overcome unique academic gaps. Angela Ling, 16, of Rockville, Md., is a junior at Laurel Springs School who enrolled in the school’s summer program because she had recently moved to the United States from Canada. The curricular differences between the two countries meant she was technically behind in the areas of science and math.

Encouraging students to pursue their passions and interests is a cornerstone of Laurel Springs’ philosophy and another unique benefit of year-round learning as a whole: exploring new subject areas, especially through electives.

As year-round learning becomes a more common practice following the pandemic, students may also find it helps them foster self-advocacy and important social-emotional skills that will help them both in school and in their professional lives. 

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