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Preventing COVID-19 Slide

5 Parent Hacks to Keep Kids Engaged & Prepared for the New School Year 

Article by Kristen Wright Matthews

Originally published in SOFU Lifestyle

Each year, summer learning loss, or "summer slide," is an area of concern for many parents, but with the recent early closures of schools due to COVID-19, an already tricky problem foreseeably has the potential to worsen significantly. Current research from Brown University projects that relative to a typical school year, students will return in fall, retaining only 63-68% of their learning gains in reading and 37-50% in math. This learning loss will not be universal, as outcomes will vary based on individual situations. Many families faced challenges during the shutdown, including health, economic, and technological setbacks, which hindered progress during distance learning. That's not including the mental and emotional challenges that can be associated with the shock, uncertainty, and social disconnection caused by the modern times we are experiencing. For some students, the summer slide seems inevitable. But it doesn't have to be a complete loss.

With the help of individuals and groups like Fulton County School Board Candidate Franchesca Warren and South Fulton Parents for Education (SFPFE), a nonprofit organization she founded, local students do not have to fall in the gaps caused by early closures. Through SFPFE's Facebook group, Warren provides a portal for parents to find information, get engaged, and receive the support of educators, community members, and other parents. She saw a need and took it upon herself to find a solution by rallying together local educators who agreed to offer free virtual tutoring sessions for students, K-12, this summer.

"I saw tons of parents complaining about not knowing how to reach their children's deficits, and I know there are some great educators in the Facebook group,” says Warren. "I put out the call, and they answered."

All children are different, and they learn differently. A tutor can help address these differences by offering individualized or small group learning and pliable resources to help students prepare for their rising grade levels. Summer practice with a tutor can make a world of difference, easing the transition back to school for educators, parents, and, most importantly, students.

"SFPFE's number one goal is to help schools bridge the gap between school and home," says Warren. As a mother of 4 and an educator, Warren understands parents' plights and the support required for teachers. 

One of the tutors involved in the initiative is Ensa Womack, Founder of Math Woes, LLC. Vested in the needs of the South Fulton community, Womack says, "During the final 1.5 months of the year, schools typically review the major work of the grade, remediate, and prepare students for the fall."

“The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted this practice, creating the conditions for an even worse summer slide than usual."

To get ahead of the curve, Womack urges parents to do their research and find the Georgia Standards of Excellence for fall classes and prepare themselves and their children using these resources or a tutor’s services. Visit

"Knowing the previous, current, and rising grade-level standards opens parents’ eyes to the content and skills your child must master," says Womack.

In addition to seeking a tutor's experience, here are some parent hacks to help offset learning loss and help kids avoid sliding backward this summer and still have fun.

1)    Encourage reading

Literature in any form is beneficial to children of all ages. Reading is fundamental and helps to provide academic support, even if the material itself isn't educational. Kids should read as much as possible during the summer months.

2)    Download learning apps

Learning apps are fun and engaging. Because kids feel like they're playing a game, it's easy to motivate them to work through a lesson. One of the top-referred apps is Khan Academy, which features grade-level missions aligned to the common core standards.

3)    Purchase practice workbooks or download worksheets

Much like learning apps, practice workbooks are available in specific grade levels. Workbooks and worksheets are an excellent supplement and extension for learning software. To limit screen time, rotate between the two. 

4)    Provide hands-on experiences

Incorporate activities that offer opportunities for learning and growth. Teach or enroll your child in a class to learn a new skill or hobby or in courses that challenge their critical-thinking skills like playing chess or coding. Visit a place you've never been, either in person or online. Learning should be continuous, but it doesn't have to be entirely academic.

5)    Establish a daily summer schedule

Of course, it's easy to allow students unlimited free time, but research shows that children and adults thrive in a structured environment. Allow time for learning, innovation, fun, movement, relaxation, and of course, to socialize with others, albeit virtually or in-person.

Now more than ever, it is essential to maintain routines conducive to daily learning. It will not only reduce the chances of summer slide, but will foster creativity, confidence, and emotional well-being in students of all ages. This summer vacation looks different than in previous years, but with patience and planning, the potential to come out on top is limitless!

Kristen has worked as a freelance writer and public relations professional for over 20 years. Originally from Los Angeles, she relocated to Atlanta in 2015 after spending 12 years in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Kristen lives in South Fulton with her husband Chris and two boys. She is the editor/publisher of– a hyperlocal calendar and family fun guide.