The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major disruption to life as we know it. Not only has it prompted us to make necessary shifts in our daily routines, it has also changed the way we move, interact, work, and learn.
As a parent, you have probably had to make the adjustment of bringing your work life to your home. On top of learning how to navigate the now blurred lines of work life and home life, you also became a quasi-teacher to your child for some time.
Though Australia has fared well compared to the rest of the world, the impacts of a few months of distance learning through school closures do not go unnoticed. This is especially true for Victorian students due to the more recent state lockdown.
In fact, based on research conducted by the Centre for Independent Studies, 1.25 million Australian parents believe their child fell behind in their learning because of the pandemic school closures. The survey of parents across Victoria, NSW and Queensland revealed that 41% of parents believe that their child learnt less during home-based schooling.
Believe it or not, this view is supported by projections performed by NWEA, a leader in educational research. NWEA’s projections indicate a decline in student academic growth because of school closures, especially in mathematics. The graph below illustrates the projection outcomes (please note this refers to the U.S. education system although parallels can be drawn to the Australian system).
Perhaps you hold the same view. This view is understandable, after all, parents cannot expect to produce the same outcomes as a professionally trained teacher when supervising their child’s lessons from home, especially if they are working from home as well.
Home-based schooling may have slowed the rate of your child’s learning (an outcome not uncommon in the current climate), however, the story is not all bad.
Here’s the good news – unexpected positive educational results revealed by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) include students taking greater ownership of their learning and parents participating more actively in their child’s learning.
Your greater involvement in your child’s learning is an opportunity to identify new learning gaps as well as gaps that may have previously existed but went unaddressed.
A new way of learning
The shift to distance learning brought with it:
- Virtual classrooms
- A heavy reliance on technology
- Zero to minimal contact with peers and friends
- Greater responsibility for parents to supervise learning and progress
This new way of learning also came with a new set of challenges:
- A level of disengagement as parents struggled to sustain their child’s attention when learning
- Lack of access to technology for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds
- A sense of loneliness through lack of interaction with peers and friends
- Heightened disruption from the home environment
Even for the students who did manage to complete their learning from home with some success, they may have struggled to maintain their learning pace. This could result in reduced academic skills, demotivating the student and contributing to lower educational goals.
The risk of the learning gap
Where a child has fallen behind because of distance learning and since resumed classroom-based learning, there is possibility for a learning gap to exist.
The students most vulnerable to the learning gap include:
- Students who have shaky learning foundations
- Students who lack confidence
- Students at key transition points in their schooling (e.g. progressing from primary school to high school)
- Students with existing mental health concerns or behavioural issues
- Students with specific learning needs not met by mainstream learning approaches
Why are such students more vulnerable to gaps in learning? Because they typically have less capacity to learn independently, lower levels of motivation and greater need for a quiet environment to learn. These characteristics and learning needs are less likely to be adequately catered for through distance learning.
The longer the learning gap remains unaddressed, the more difficult it becomes to close the gap and ensure your child is meeting the expectations of their academic level. Your child is also at greater risk of falling further behind as the schooling year progresses.
Start closing the learning gap today
Before you can work towards helping your child close their learning gap, you need to identify whether a learning gap does exist.
To gain this clarity, the best option is to have a diagnostic assessment done, one that is independent of the school. A diagnostic assessment is the first step to unlocking your child’s untapped potential. It will enable you to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses in their learning and gauge the misalignment between their true ability and their performance at school.
Our 1.5-hour diagnostic assessment followed by a 30-minute feedback session will tell you more than the school could in a whole year.
A Global Education Diagnostic Assessment will:
- Measure where the student is at compared to where they should be
- Uncover the areas of proficiency and measure any misconceptions
- Highlight the reasons behind any deficits
- Reveal the untapped potential of a student