Tag Archives: online teaching

Ways to Help Your Kids From Falling Behind in School

“As kids start school with more online learning, parents wonder whether they’ll ever catch up. Here’s how to set them up for success.” H. Burns, The New York Times

Credit- Sonia Pulido, The NYT


ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Excerpt: Worried Your Kid Is Falling Behind? You’re Not Alone, By Holly Burns, The New York Times

“The other day my mother gave me a book called ‘What Your Second Grader Should Know.’ A quick flip through it revealed that a few weeks from now, my son would need to label an insect’s thorax [and]discuss the role of Dolley Madison in the War of 1812.

In the wake of some serious distance learning burnout, the most educational thing we’d done all summer had been a contact-free library pickup of the latest ‘Captain Underpants.’ I suddenly wished we’d done a little more.

If you’re concerned that remote learning may have set your child back academically, brace yourself: It probably has… The question comes up constantly: When do we need to start panicking about our children falling behind?

Deborah Stipek, Ph.D., a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, said that may not be the right question to ask. ‘I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?’

To gauge potential gaps in learning, said Britt Menzies, a preschool teacher in Atlanta, Ga., scatter informal tests throughout the day. ‘Have a child count their peas while they’re eating dinner,” she said. “See how many letters they recognize on a billboard… But don’t stress over hard-hitting academics for the pre-K set, said Emily Levitt, vice president of education for Sylvan Learning…Instead, weave in playful learning activities, like ‘baking sheets filled with lentils to give kids a multi-sensory way to trace shapes and numbers,’ she said.

‘Regardless of socioeconomic status, a household filled with anxiety and stress can be a major driver of kids falling behind’, said Bruce Fuller, Ph.D., a professor of education and public policy at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.

When parents lose their patience or don’t listen, said Dr. Fuller, children can start to shut down emotionally, in turn disengaging from reading and rich conversation inside the family.

That rings true for Lindsay Williams, an interior decorator in Madison, Wis., who said she’s dreading the pressure that comes with teaching her 6- and 9-year-old herself. ‘I’m terrified I’m going to screw my kids up, because I get so easily flustered and frustrated,’ she said…To ease the burden, Williams is thinking of forming a neighborhood learning co-op, so that she and a few other families can share the duties of teaching the material provided by the school. ‘Meeting regularly with a small, safe group of peers can be beneficial for the social-emotional health of both children and parents, said Dr. Fuller.'”

“The Democrats bowed to the realities of the pandemic and canceled the major in-person speeches that were still planned for their convention this month.” Reid J. Epstein and Katie Glueck/ The New York Times

“I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Mr. Biden said at a fund-raiser on Wednesday. “Science matters.” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~


ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

 Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine the photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.

Pre-reading chart by J. Swann


II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. The author stated that her son would need to label an insect’s thorax.
  2. The collective angst in some parenting circles has reached an intense agitation level.
  3. Many parents also  panic  at the thought of their kids failing in school.
  4. Schools want to ensure that kids receive the best education.
  5. Every child deserves the best opportunities to learn during these challenging times.
  6. Experts suggest that parents give kids informal tests throughout the day.
  7. Experts also suggest that parents try not to prompt kids to get a better picture of what skills they need to on.
  8. Educators state that kids will likely bounce  back very quickly when they go back to school.
  9. One parent stated that her 6-year-old, who has A.D.H.D., won’t flourish academically with remote instruction.
  10. Affluent parents are better situated to help or hire help for their kids working online.


Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org


Reading Comprehension

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “I think a more useful one is, ‘How do we ensure that our children get the best possible opportunities to learn under these challenging circumstances?”
  2. “At home, board games are an easy way to reinforce turn-taking etiquette. Parents can also work on delaying gratification. If your child asks for a snack, stretch out the time between them asking and you giving it to them.”
  3. “Have a child count their peas while they’re eating dinner,” she said. “See how many letters they recognize on a billboard. Ask them what shapes are in that picture they drew.”
  4. “Weave in playful learning activities, like “baking sheets filled with lentils to give kids a multi-sensory way to trace shapes and numbers.”
  5. “She can’t read yet, so she can’t get through the computer work without assistance. She zones out if I’m not sitting next to her. And I can’t sit next to her all the time because I have three other children who need me.”


III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist with  finding  the main points from the article.

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning


Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

  1. What does research show about children returning to school during Covid-19?
  2. According to Dr. Stipek, what question should we be asking about our children’s education?
  3. According to the article when do children learn the crucial social-emotional skills?
  4. What suggestions does Britt Menzies offer to help kids with potential learning gaps?
  5. What advice does  Emily Levitt offer to provide kids with a multi-sensory experience with shapes and numbers?
  6. Which group of kids face an even more difficult learning challenge?
  7. Dr. Stipek  suggests that parents of elementary school kids should look where for resources and guidance?
  8. Can you make  personal connections to this article? For example, if you have children (or know someone who does) is there a concern about kids falling behind in their school work?
  9. Can you think of ways to help parents and teachers help kids keep up with school work?



Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention.