Although we have put a brave face on the resilience of children during the past four months, the reality is that if school is worthwhile, then kids have suffered. And the better the school, the more learning loss is likely to have occurred, especially considering the difficulty many schools have had in delivering quality remote learning. So, what is the answer?
Understanding the learning milestones and the curricular objectives of your child´s school is important. Knowing what they should have learned is a first step. Perhaps even more important is understanding that a child´s brain is very pliable and requires high levels of exercise to grow and develop. Children exposed to fewer words as infants and those who are not reading at high levels by Grade 3 have lower achievement outcomes.
But don't worry! Time is on our side.
At TASIS Portugal, our job is not just to teach facts and skills, but to inspire young people to continually seek out new knowledge and challenge their own beliefs and assumptions. We have a created a unique curriculum because we believe in a “growth mindset”. That is to say, we believe young brains are capable of growing and that intelligence is not innate, but can be enhanced over time. Without reminding you why we chose each of the specific programs in our curriculum, suffice to say we believe they will improve not only knowledge, but the ability to think, reason, and articulate.
That said, students have missed out on many opportunities over the past four months. They can recover, but they will need help. They need teachers (that said, a shout-out to parents and their miraculous efforts during this trying time) who know what is important, how to support their learning, and how to challenge them.
The good news is: We have those teachers. They will do whatever is required to close the learning gap this fall, with your support at home for reading, conversation, and focus.
Our teachers have mastered the delicate balance of professional experience, energy, empathy, and understanding. They have high expectations--tempered with the ability to meet each child where they are. They understand their important role in student learning. Our timetable doesn’t have room for fluff. It is filled with challenging activities, each with the purpose of promoting curiosity, understanding, questioning, and debate.
Our Visible Thinking routines ask students to question what they know, why they know it, and whether their thinking processes are sound. We can´t make up for a previous learning deficit and/or a semester of educational loss in a few weeks, but we can close the learning gap quickly and ensure that by the end of a school year, students are back where they should be--and perhaps ahead of where they might have been at another school.
I don't say this out of arrogance. I say it because I have enormous faith in our system, our curriculum, and--most importantly--the culture of learning to which we are committed. That culture includes the social and emotional leaning that students desperately need from their teacher mentors and their peers.
In short, please don’t worry. Every child has been affected by this intellectual, emotional, and physical interruption. Our founding class is joining a great school that is committed to their success. And they will be successful.
Give us some time with them and you will be amazed. We are not here to be just another school.
We are here to provide the finest learning environment you could hope for your children, and to create curious, rational, respectful, and inquisitive young people who are well prepared to solve the problems this planet needs them to solve. (And to be happy doing so.)