As half of Australia currently navigates through lockdown restrictions and Greater Sydney in its 7th consecutive week of lockdown, many of us find ourselves speculating about the future.
What will be the long-term impacts of the current lockdown? How will it affect my family’s physical and mental wellbeing? Will it impact my child’s progress at school?
It’s likely that these questions, plus many others, have run laps around your mind as you watch the COVID pandemic evolve in Australia and beyond. As a parent, your concerns are heightened each time you watch the State Government announcements of lockdown extensions and continued at-home learning.
We don’t blame you.
To have the children at home as you also work from home is one thing. To then become responsible for overseeing your child’s schoolwork is another thing. The more time that passes, you can’t help but wonder whether any learning gaps are developing that you’re not aware of. The last thing you want is to discover such gaps 6 to 12 months down the track, only for your child to spend just as much time playing catch-up.
To help you manage any learning gaps your child may have developed during this time, this blog covers how learning gaps are developed, how to identify learning gaps and ways to get your child back on track.
How are learning gaps developed?
Before we address the causes of learning gaps, let’s first define learning gaps.
Learning gaps are the difference between what a student is expected to have learned by their grade level versus what they have actually learned. Learning gaps can be as small as being limited to a single component of a subject (i.e. reading level for English) or as large as struggling across an entire subject or more (i.e. difficulty understanding all concepts in mathematics at the required level).
Though small learning gaps may be seen as a minor issue or even attributed to a student’s natural weaknesses, they can easily become more significant gaps if they remain unaddressed. Learning gaps compound over time, making it more difficult for students who fall behind to get back on track. That’s why it’s important to understand how learning gaps are formed to help your child avoid them occurring in their learning journey.
How do learning gaps form? Well, learning is a progressive endeavour. At one grade level, students are introduced to concepts and skills which form a foundation for new concepts and skills learned in future grades to be built upon. These building blocks continue throughout a student’s schooling years. However, various factors can disrupt the building of these blocks and cause cracks to form in the foundation. These factors include:
- School absences which can add up over time
- Not enough supervision over learning activities
- Student misbehaviour in class
- Lack of consistent support from teachers
- Lack of student motivation
As you can see, due to the factors which cause learning gaps, some students are more vulnerable to learning gaps than others. Still, with the current pause in physical classroom learning and lack of personal teacher-student interaction, avoiding learning gaps almost seems beyond your control as a parent.
What can you do today to help avoid learning gaps for your child in the future? The best thing you can do right now is to regularly check-in with your child. A daily check-in is to see whether they have any concerns, are struggling to focus or are behind in any area. It’s also useful to check-in with their teacher every now and then to raise any concerns and get their perspective on how your child is progressing with their schoolwork. Frequent check-ins will help to catch any hint of a learning gap as early as possible.
Spot the gap
Learning gaps are not always easy to identify. As previously said, smaller learning gaps can be mistaken as being a natural weakness of a student, excused as being “just the way they are”. However, the sooner a learning gap is identified, the better. Spotting learning gaps is crucial to address those gaps.
The first step is to identify where and what the learning gaps are. One way to do this is through diagnostic assessments. Diagnostic assessments are key to identifying and bridging learning gaps at any stage. At Global Education Academy, our diagnostic assessments are independent of schools and help you identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses in their learning, as well as determine any misalignment between their true ability and their performance at school.
Our 1.5-hour diagnostic assessment followed by a 30-minute feedback session will tell you more than the school could in a whole year.
- Measure where the student is at compared to where they should be
- Uncover the areas of proficiency and measure any misconceptions
- Highlight the reasons behind any deficits
- Reveal the untapped potential of a student
Get your child back on track
Once you identify where and what learning gaps exist for your child, you’re well on your way to getting your child back on track in their academic performance. Keep in mind that gaps in knowledge and skills can be difficult to catch up and require focused and dedicated efforts to achieve.
To help close your child’s learning gap and get them back on track:
- Start now – as learning gaps compound over time, the longer they’re left unaddressed, the larger they become. So, start implementing strategies to close the gaps as soon as possible. Don’t wait for when you have more time, use whatever time you have available to start now, even if you start small.
- Spend focused time addressing the gap – create time in yours and your child’s schedule to focus on addressing the identified learning gaps. Engage in lessons and activities in the relevant areas that involve practice, more detail and greater repetition. You may choose to supervise this focused study or outsource to a tutor to ensure your child receives the guidance and instruction they need.
- Evaluate progress – track improvements over time to determine whether the learning gap remains or is being reduced. You can do this by checking in with your child’s teacher to understand how their learning is progressing or encourage your child to take the GEA diagnostic assessment every few months.
If you’re ready to take the next step to identify and address any of your child’s learning gaps, contact Global Education Academy today on 1300 001 432 for more information on our assessments and group tutoring classes.