Latino parents see their role in education as taking care of values while teachers take care of knowledge. COVID-19 has forced education roles to change, raising concerns about learning loss.
As the school year comes to an end parents are both breathing a sigh of relief and increasingly concerned about how much has COVID-19 set back their kids learning. A recent study by Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) looked at the potential impact of COVID-19 in loss of learning, projecting that students would return to school with approximately 30% of reading learning loss and as low as 50% to a full-year of math learning loss.
What parents have been suspecting in terms of their kids’ learning significantly slowing down is indeed happening. This realization can bring mixed feelings, including guilt and fear. Many parents have found overwhelming the demands to support their children’s learning. Also, talking about the wellbeing of their children is frequently an emotional conversation.
Parents and caregivers with privilege and power may feel confident in demanding from teachers more and different work for their kids. They either get the school to do more or they have the resources to find alternatives. This is what happens during the summers, when affluent families are able to offer their kids expensive growth opportunities, mostly unavailable to low-income families.
In the case of Latino families, research shows that they see their relationship with teachers as complimentary. They are involved in their kids lives, including ensuring a strong moral and cultural development, as well as making sure they are doing their homework and being respectful of teachers. However, they expect teachers to take care of the knowledge and teaching, the kind of work they may not feel themselves prepared or ready to provide.
For parents and guardians interested in talking to teachers about their kids’ potential learning loss and what to do about it, here are 3 recommendations:
Assume you know your kid best. If your kid is bored and acting up it is very possible that they are not engaged or being challenged enough or in the best way. Students have different learning styles, needs, and disabilities that impact learning and those that live with them and help them manage life from wake-up until bedtime truly know more about what they need. Engage the teacher with the confidence of an expert in your own child.
Assume the teacher knows how to teach and wants to do their job well. Everyone is working under extreme circumstances, but teachers among the professionals that had to take the sharpest turn and reinvent their work within a week when schools closed. Many of them are also taking care of their families and the homeschooling of their own children. In addition, their pay and supports to help all children are uneven across the U.S. and in some cases extremely low.
Teachers want to do a good job and many have been creative and energized using technology to engage their kids. For many, Twitter became an ideas exchange, using the hashtag #virtualschool to share and gather best practices. On the other hand, many have also felt unprepared with limited technology training and curricula and lesson plans that do not fit the current reality. Some of the best practices in classrooms like small groups and individualized learning are harder to implement virtually.
Focus on the months ahead. Focusing on the hardships of the past few months may feel good as you release feelings of frustration but is not going to help your kid learn and catch up. On average, students tend to loose about a months worth of learning over the summer, but there is no denying that the slowdown and in some cases stop of instruction due to COVID-19 will have larger detrimental effects.
Talk to teachers about what your kid can do over the summer to continue to practice skills. Ask about how and when they will test your kid when school re-opens and what resources the school will provide for students to prepare. This is also a good opportunity to ask about what communications you can expect over the summer and also tell them what you have liked and not liked about their current communications.
Remember, you are not being rude. You are just doing your job as a parent.