Did Remote Learning Cause My Child to Suffer Academically?

Did Remote Learning Cause My Child to Suffer Academically

As a life-long educator, I feel drawn to alleviate the concerns and challenges faced by parents during the recent school shut-downs and required remote learning during the COVID-19 global pandemic. We cannot say that no one anticipated or predicted a global pandemic. Many experts on infectious diseases, researchers, and even science fiction writers warned of the eventuality of such an event. However, I don’t think any of us expected the quick spread across the world, the instant closings of schools, churches, and businesses, along with the forced changes to our everyday routines. None of us planned for remote schooling and work. And we did it!

Congratulate yourself! You are doing a great job and are not in this alone. 

First of all, “Congratulations!!” At the drop of a hat and with only hours or a few days’ notice, we all made needed adjustments and closed ourselves in for about three months. Many of you created workspaces for your students, set up necessary technology, picked up materials from schools, and garnered your first experiences with Google Classroom and Zoom. At the same time, you monitored coursework completion, daily work submissions, and exams.

I want you to know that the teachers, administrations, your families, friends, and communities noticed and appreciate your work and dedication.

Ask: What did my child learn?

Do not focus upon what your child missed in their time spent on remote learning. Look rather, at all that he/she gained. We are living in unprecedented and historic times. Take advantage of the living history and social science lessons unfolding before us.

The fact that you are worried about your student’s learning and possible academic slide almost certainly ensures that a negative slide will not occur. While not mandatory for success, parental involvement is a key factor in a student’s academic success.

As you re-frame your focus, some possible questions are:

  • What did my child learn during quarantine/isolation? Did they learn new technology skills, a new appreciation for solitude of social interaction, self-sufficiency, and self-reliance? They almost certainly gained a new awareness of their learning styles and preferences.
  • What did my child learn about their classmates, school, community, and the world?
  • What new vocabulary has my child incorporated?
  • How might the events of this spring affect our futures?

Observe ways in which your child is expressing his/herself.

As children experience stress and trauma, it is important they find ways in which to express themselves.

Is your child shutting his/herself off and out? clinging to you or friends? acting out verbally or physically? talking and asking questions?

Make sure to establish space, physically and emotionally, for self-expression. The expression might occur through art, poetry, or music. Encourage drawing, coloring, or doodling.

Perhaps your child has expressed a desire to learn a new skill such as coding, woodworking, sewing, gardening, or cooking. I encourage you to view this as a means of expression and create the space to fit your child’s needs and styles.

As your child embarks on the creative outlets mentioned above, pay attention to the academic learning that occurs at the same time. Your child might be reading recipes, instructions, and directions. He/she might be measuring and applying mathematical and scientific concepts. Their pastime might utilize patterns, relationships, and sequencing. This is not wasted time.

Read. Read. Read.

It has been widely documented that children who do not read in the summer can lose 2-3 months of reading skills. Children who do read tend to gain a month of reading proficiency.

Below are some of my ideas to facilitate reading:

  • Set up a reading area or corner. Arrange bean bags, pillows, lamps, blankets, or any household items that add to comfort and security.
  • Set up a tent or make-shift tent using quilts, blankets, bedspreads, or towels. This helps isolate the reader and enables them to escape into the text.
  • Have older siblings read to younger siblings. If there is not a younger sibling, your child might enjoy reading to a neighbor, parent, grandparent, doll, stuffed animal, or pet.
  • Have your child play teacher. Again, they can teach a sibling, pet, or inanimate object.
  • Read as a family. This might mean that everyone reads at the same time, all members track progress, everyone reads the same book, or perhaps you read aloud.
  • Have your older students read new genres or authors. This might be an excellent summer to read dystopian novels, books on the spread of diseases, and books by authors of color. Most book publishers, reviewers, and libraries have created recommendation lists. Your local libraries and most school libraries have digital subscriptions available for you and your students.
  • Read using a different mode of access. Return to ink and paper books, or try an online source.

Fit the situation to your particular needs.

In short, you know your children and they know themselves. Use the suggestions above to cater to your and your family’s specific needs. Remember: Any and all learning is important and helpful.

In the end, be kind, patient, and understanding to yourself, your children, and those around you. We are all learning and adjusting together.



Vera M. Wehring, Ph.D.

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