The Importance of Supporting Students During the Summer

Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to share my experience as a parent of school-aged children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, we have moved past the days of virtual school and have resumed some of our normal routines, including in-person learning. I’m once again packing lunchboxes and ironing school uniforms each morning, but there are some differences. This year I’ve faced new challenges, such as learning which facemask best protects from the COVID-19 virus but is also comfortable for a six-year-old to wear in a school building that is more than 100 years old and has an outdated HVAC system. There have been many decisions like this, and to put it mildly, this school year has been difficult to navigate.

As the summer break approaches, there is a glimmer of hope. I am ecstatic about the opportunity for my children to rest their developing minds and return to play. I hope that they can reclaim some of the innocence that was lost during the pandemic over the coming months. I also want to be sure that my girls spend time this summer sharpening the skills they have worked so hard to acquire this school year. As a professional in the education sector, I know that the summer learning “slide” is real. I have seen firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected instruction and my children’s learning.

So, before the final bell rings and we close out the 2021-22 school year, I am issuing a call to action to both classroom and school leaders on behalf of parents and caregivers across the country. Over the next few weeks, connect with families and develop a plan of action for summer learning and support.  As a parent, I am asking for more than an end-of-year letter and a summer reading list. I am looking for a meaningful conversation about where my children currently sit on content mastery, specific skills we should practice over the summer, and available resources within the district or school community.

I recognize that time and capacity are limited. The needs of all families are not the same. Consider implementing a tiered approach and offering extensive support to students and families who have the greatest need for summer bridge learning. Make use of the many technological tools we have acquired over the past few years and share information virtually where appropriate.

Parents want what’s best for their children and are emerging from the pandemic more engaged in their child’s learning than ever before. It would be a shame, and a disservice to children, not to capitalize on this momentum and exercise the same intentionality in our end-of-year plans as we did at the beginning of the year. As a parent, I can confidently say that we don’t want our children to fall behind. We want to make our summer breaks fun and meaningful. We need your help to make this happen.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

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TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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