What is “The COVID Gap?”

You’ve probably heard of the “Summer Slide.” This is what we call the learning loss that typically occurs over the summer months when students don’t practice skills. It’s very common, it happens every year, and with most students, it’s resolved by October or November. The COVID gap refers to learning loss caused by the many interruptions to classroom learning since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Some research has come out on just how significant the learning loss has been. However, the specific depth and breadth of the loss ranges based on things like demographics, grade level, and geography. What the gap is actually measuring is also unclear. It doesn’t measure the distance between groups of students, since so many students are experiencing some level of learning loss. The gap is measuring the distance between where students are performing and where teachers think they should be performing. This is based on national and state standards, curricular benchmarks, and sometimes teachers’ own personal beliefs about what students should be able to do.

Supporting Students with Interrupted Learning

For students whose learning has been disrupted by COVID, there are some small ways to limit the negative impact. Aside from missing out on quality academics, another problem with these interruptions is the lack of routine. Any time kids are out of their regular routine, it’s hard to get back into it. And yet, a majority of kids thrive with the regularity of a predictable routine. At home, try to maintain a schedule as close to their regular routine as possible.

Parents are often tempted to make up lost academics by supplementing with extra work. We should, however, be mindful about how we go about this. Assigning extra “busy work” or work that students don’t feel motivated to do or invested in could have the opposite effect. It could cause children to resent learning even more. Instead of buying boring workbooks or printing out practice worksheets, try to work with your child to develop some long-term at-home projects they will be enthusiastic about. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Will the Gap Ever Close?

While we can’t close gaps in learning overnight, there’s good news: just about everyone is behind. Those few who aren’t currently behind grade level expectations were probably already ahead before the pandemic began. So while the COVID gap is real, and while it is alarming, it isn’t the end of the world. The focus needs to shift from “catching kids up” to meeting them where they are to ensure they move forward. They’ll keep learning and growing as long as educators and parents continue to encourage that learning and growth in gentle, stress-free ways.

If you need some extra help to support your child, our tutors are ready to work with your child to fill the gaps and reignite their spark for learning.