School’s Out. Now What?

Students on average over the summer lose 25-30% of what they learned during the school year. This percentage is even higher for students who face socio-economic barriers or other inequitable circumstances.

COVID-19 brings new challenges for school administrators in providing and encouraging summer enrichment for all students. Typically, students from more affluent homes are more likely to participate in summer educational enrichment programs but the pandemic has quelled many of these opportunities. Students are dealing with the mental trauma of being isolated from friends and classmates and missing out on end-of-school-year traditions. Also, many students are experiencing digital fatigue and decreased motivation so school summer reading lists and aggregate online resources to encourage students to continue learning over the summer, are almost a moot point.

So how do schools create and cultivate equitable learning environments for educational enrichment over the summer? One approach is focusing on a student’s overall well-being and mental health and less on academia. According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly 3 in 10 parents indicated that their child’s emotional and mental health is adversely affected by COVID-19. There are strong correlations and research-backed studies between student’s mental health and educational outcomes. Students who have mental and emotional health issues are more likely to have negative educational outcomes. Providing environments where students feel appreciated, their successes celebrated and their efforts rewarded, all support positive mental health outcomes and improved academic success.

Leveraging Passport For Good schools can provide students with the opportunity to visualize, quantify, and see the impact of their engagement thus having a positive effect on their overall mental health. Students can log the number of hours dedicated to community service and see in real-time the economic impact of their activities. Students learn relevant soft skills like time management, resource allocation, adaptability, problem-solving, and communication which are important in being a successful student and a functioning adult in society.

So as an educator how do you encourage and motivate students to be engaged? Passion drives motivation. Encourage students to identify something they are passionate about and turn that passion into a community service-learning project. If a student enjoys playing video games, encourage them to coordinate a tournament among their friends or neighborhood children. It can also be something as simple as coordinating a neighborhood clean-up for environmentally focused students, entertaining neighborhood children or younger siblings for students who enjoy caring for others, or as complex as volunteering at their favorite non-profit or cause. There are various ways that students can give back within their capabilities, skillset, interests, and age-appropriateness.

Equally as important is to make it a point to recognize and celebrate student’s summer engagement throughout and at the end of the summer. Positive reinforcement of a student’s efforts will increase the likelihood they will continue #doinggoodhere.

Have a safe and engaging summer from all of us at Passport For Good!