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Early Childhood Education: From Summer to COVID-19 Slide

Parents are agonizing about whether to allow their children to return to classrooms or continue distance learning, and rightly so. As if that weren’t enough parents also have to worry about whether their child will fall behind in critical learning skills during this time. Those skills are being attacked by what educators are calling the COVID-19 Slide.

See, when it comes to regular school years, the school years that happened before COVID-19; during summer break students would indulge in more video games, they would spend more hours playing outside, and simply enjoy the freedom they have away from completing assignments and taking tests. Studies state that those two months can lead to what is called the “Summer Slide”.

According to Scholastics.com, the “Summer Slide” is when students “lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year. . . .on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math is lost.” Now, I want to look at what has been the effects of COVID-19 on early childhood education. With students being taken out of school abruptly last spring, while school districts swiftly constructed a plan to continue instruction for the remainder of the school year; the “COVID-19 Slide” was in effect.

Like the Summer Slide, the “COVID-19 Slide” had students to lose significant knowledge in reading and math. This slide was more detrimental to students’ skills due to there being four months of learning lost rather than two. According to Educationdive.com students were expected to “return to school (this school year) with a decrease of about 70% of typical gains in reading and less than 50% of typical gains in math;” that is an increase of 50% and 23% to the average skills slide. To put in the perspective of Early Childhood Education, their website states that the reading loss will be between grades K-2, but the greatest impact will be on kindergartners. “Oral reading fluency loss is expected to be most pronounced among 5th graders.” 

Since late August, the beginning of a new school year has been underway for students across the United States. Different states have created and put into effect their own procedures on conducting classes. Some have decided to have students back in classes while implementing the proper social distancing, so they can get children back to some type of normalcy. However, most schools have decided to stick with the plan of Distance Learning; giving teachers the option of conducting class from the comfort of their homes or setting up in their physical classrooms. As for D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser stated that D.C. Public Schools will be moving forward to resume some type of in-person instruction by November 9th, which is the start of the second term for students. 

Because of this great loss with these basic skills, this school year I will be giving my services to a non-profit organization that focuses on tutoring students to gain that loss and better their early (learning to read) literacy skills. During my years of undergrad, I always said I’d never step foot into the field of Education; but it is during critical times like these that I know I should want to help those who are just starting their learning journey. 

While I’m tutoring I am making it my mission to see it that students fully and effectively gain their “learning to read” skills before they transition into their years of “reading to learn and comprehend”. Reading is an essential skill and it is paramount that children in Early Childhood Education rightfully gain said skill. I want to be one of those people who makes sure students obtain that right and that after this school year I see an improvement in those statistics and that young learners beat this COVID slide.

Natalie Davis

Natalie Davis

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