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“My Child is Behind in School,” What to Do & Where to Start

Each class your child attends are sort of like steps on a ladder. As parents and educators, we work with our kids to help them add new rungs to their ladder, and teach them to climb up and down. However, during the pandemic, many students’ ladders lost a few rungs leaving them damaged and wobbly. No less, climbing up and down a ladder with missing rungs is a recipe for disaster. What academic rungs are missing from your child’s ladder? Knowing the answer could be make or break.

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In order to look ahead to greener landscapes, we must first understand where we’re at. You know your child is behind in school, worse yet maybe your child is failing in school. The pandemic induced wide-spread learning loss no doubt and left students, teachers, and parents reeling. We know that one day down the line the bumps and scrapes our kids suffered will have long healed up, but we first have to determine what educational wounds have been afflicted in order to nurse them. So, how do we figure out what knowledge and skills have suffered in-light of these tumultuous past few years? The answer is two-fold: diagnostics and dialogue.

New York State elementary and middle school learning objectives are largely centered around math and ELA. Not shockingly, in light of the pandemic, students of all ages are behind in school, in all subjects from math and ELA to science and history. However, we can’t simply tell our child to practice or study “math and ELA.” Such an amorphous goal is unlikely to see any concrete action. Instead, we must identify what skill sets and knowledge within ELA and math are at a deficit and remediate them specifically.

Approach #1: Dialogue

If your child is behind in school, ask them, why?

If your child’s being held back in school by something small, it could be as easy as asking. Sometimes classwork can be improved with a change as tiny as sitting closer to the blackboard. Other times, and much more often, lackluster performance on in-class and at-home assignments is the result of students falling behind in the curriculum. After these strange few years, who could blame them? If you’re really lucky, your child may even share that they need support in their math class or are struggling to keep up in ELA. Often times, when a child is failing in school, they’re itching to talk to a trusted adult about it.

Though dialogue can reveal quite a lot about the inner workings of a student’s thought process, this tool is more useful to educators than others. When Mom and Dad ask “which part is confusing you?” they may expect their child to be able to accurately answer. But any instructor or tutor who’s been around kids long enough knows that the learning-block is likely more deeply rooted. Oftentimes when your child is behind in school, consistent difficulty completing assignments independently is a sign of a fundamental hole in a child’s understanding. Determining these gaps is imperative in order to fix them.

Approach #2: Diagnostics

Testing where your child is behind in school with ELA and Math diagnostics.

Testing gets a bad rap. I myself admit that I am wary of touting test and quiz scores as flawless markers of students’ learning, but that doesn’t make them entirely useless. Au contraire, tests in fact can be quite good for some things, like expertly curated diagnostic exams designed entirely to assess specific academic skill sets. Luckily, they exist! And well-equipped learning centers like Tip-Top Brain use them to assist in targeting problem areas for your child in class.

One of the tools we leverage for identifying ELA deficit is the Diagnostic Reading Lexile Assessment. This state-of-the-art ELA diagnostic provides our instructors a pulse on your child’s skill in: phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, vocabulary, and comprehension of both literature and informational texts.

Ready To Help Your Child Improve Their Grades, Test Scores And Confidence?

So, the reality of your child’s performance in ELA is more complicated than “good” or “bad.” Your child, like with most things, probably excels in some ELA sub skills and struggles with others. By administering this ELA diagnostic, we can bolster your child’s strengths and closely remediate their weaknesses. All in all, this ELA diagnostic makes for more efficient and effective tutoring, and ultimately better learning outcomes.

Similarly, we administer a math diagnostic that assesses your child’s skills in: numbers and operations, algebra and algebraic thinking, measurement and data, and geometry. No different than our ELA diagnostic, our math diagnostic gives us insight into your child’s mathematical maturity with respect to their grade-level.

Not only does this assessment make for better tutoring, but it also ensures your child never feels overwhelmed or too challenged with what’s being asked of them. Math confidence can be difficult to build, and biting-off more than your child can chew is a recipe for heartache. On the flip side, the assessment allows tutors to appropriately ramp-up your child’s instruction and help them exercise new math-muscles.

The skinny: get a sense of where your child is in their classes. Post-online-school we as parents and educators have a fleeting chance to help our children catch up in school. Without gaining a clear sense of what skills and knowledge our child has lost, we’re dooming them to many more days in the classroom feeling confused and left-behind. Leveraging dialogue and diagnostics, we can forge a new path forward, addressing past learning loss and ensuring future learning gains. Start here by scheduling a grade-level assessment for your child at Tip-Top Brain.

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