Parent Survival Guide: Helping students catch up over the summer

Updated: May. 3, 2021 at 2:33 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Extra learning over the summer might be the last way kids and parents want to spend their summer break.

Ray McGrath is a learning specialist with Sylvan Learning center in Mount Pleasant as well as a teacher. He says after a year of interrupted studies it’s vital as we go into the next few months, including the summertime, that kids keep learning.

“Summer is when we can fix a lot of these issues because they are not in school three fourths of the day. So we can reverse that,” McGrath said.

McGrath says since the pandemic, his center has gone from seeing roughly 60 kids to more than 100 kids needed extra help. He says the pandemic has been hard for kids in grades across the spectrum.

It’s been especially hard on first through third graders which he says are the foundational years of learning.

“Our experience has been when they are a year behind, typically what we have seen in the past 6 to 8 months is that gap is now a year and a half which indicates they have lost ground,” McGrath said.

McGrath says without any catch-up help through the child’s school district or with a tutor or if a child is behind that learning gap will only grow.

“They get into a pattern of always having to catch up because they are not where they should be and that’s more prevalent as they get older. It’s not a microwave fix. It’s more of a crockpot. It will take some time. We can’t fix a lot of these issues overnight,” McGrath said.

To help her three boys stay on track, Susan Huntington takes them for tutoring help twice a week for two hours. She says her boys needed help in both math and reading.

Huntington says the extra help they have been getting recently has been proving successful.

“My middle son, school is an uphill battle. He made honor roll and we celebrated like he won an Oscar. He’s so proud of himself,” Huntington said.

“We have individualized reports. As they master skills, it keeps feeding and skills and the kids need to get to grade level. We can make up a lot of ground in the summer. We could master some of those skills and build confidence, and when we have added confidence we will see much more positive outcomes in the fall,” McGrath said.

McGrath says other things you can do to help your student is making sure your child is reading 20 minutes a day or read with them if reading is a struggle; create games or flashcards to engage their math brain.

Also, talk to your child’s counselor and see what help the district can provide over the summer months.

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