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Returning to the Classroom: 6 Tips to Support Student Learning This Year

This August, we welcomed back all of our students to in-person learning following a school year that presented so many challenges for our families, communities, and schools. Our school staff is committed to making this year one that’s filled with learning and social reconnection for our students.

That’s why we asked several of our teammates from Camden and Newark to offer their best tips on how to support your child’s education in math and English Language Learning (ELA) as we transition back to in-person learning. 

  1. Communicate with teachers early and often: Transitioning into a new school year means that scholars and parents will be interacting with new teachers. Your child’s teacher will know your scholar’s strengths and growth areas and are a great resource when it comes to recommending supplemental practice materials. KIPP THRIVE Academy teacher Ashley Salter recommends communicating with teachers early on in the year and continuing to check-in throughout. “I notice parents think teachers are busy, and that’s true, but we still encourage them to check in through email, text, or Class Dojo—the more communication, the better!” said Salter.


    KIPP Lanning Square Primary Learning Specialist Amanda Ruffner echoes the importance of family-teacher dialogue.”If a parent has concerns about students at home, they can reach out to ask us what we might be noticing in the classroom. That way, we can work together to develop a plan,” said Ruffner.

  2. Engage in real-world math: Learning doesn’t have to happen only when your scholar is at school. There are many opportunities for your child to learn from everyday life. Ruffner thinks it’s important to make math familiar to students. “For Kindergarten, we’re big on number identification, so play games like ‘I Spy’ at the grocery store when you see a number, or solve simple addition problems like ‘how many apples do I have?’” she said.

  3. Make learning a family affair: Ruffner also recommends leveraging the competitive spirit of students’ siblings or other family members to support learning through flashcards or mini quizzes for math learning. When it comes to ELA learning, do adults in the family read the news regularly? If so, KIPP Newark Community Prep Assistant School Leader Tanisha Marchan recommends integrating the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) into student learning as family members read news articles. “The website Newsela.org is a great resource for helping students answer those questions as they read, which helps build strong reading comprehension,” said Marchan.

  4. Spark curiosity for science. KIPP Whittier Middle science teacher Ryan Weaver recommends students stay engaged in science outside of school through resources like Youtube channel, Crash Course, that offers short, digestible and engaging videos on topics ranging from earth science to robotics. Looking for engineering projects to do at home? Weaver recommends  families explore PBS Kids Design Squad.

  5. Cultivate persuasive speaking skills: Families should follow the lead of KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy Assistant Principal Olayinka Okoye who, during the school’s summer enrichment program last year, held “PowerPoint Parties” for students that allowed them to pick any topic on which to deliver a persuasive speech. According to Okoye, the gatherings were a direct response to her concern that students would have fewer opportunities to speak persuasively in the classroom, both formally or with friends, during remote learning.

    “Students could pick any topic they wanted, like ‘why your favorite rapper or football team is superior,’ and then create a persuasive presentation on that topic. For teenagers, this helps them develop the skills of speaking in the classroom and thinking critically,” said Okoye. She added that families, particularly of older students, can encourage students to do the same at home. “Does your high school student want to take a trip with friends? Have them make a presentation outlining the reasons why,” she said.

  6. Have patience. After the challenges presented last year, it is important that students and parents keep everything in perspective. Many parents are concerned about their child’s progress in school; however, it is also important for parents to stay patient and empathetic to help ease the transition and help your student to do their best. “My advice is to be patient with scholars at home. The work can seem overwhelming, but we’re all in it together and working towards the same goal,” said Salter. 

As always, we are grateful for the partnership of our families in supporting students’ academic journeys. Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to best support your child at home; however, by discussing your child’s learning with their teacher, integrating learning outside of school, and staying supportive, your child will grow as a student and have a successful school year. 

Searching for more resources? Below, our educators and instructional leaders have compiled a list of great online tools to support students’ learning in ELA and math. 

Math

  • Khan Academy: Renowned for simple, engaging math how-to videos, quizzes, and math learning that supports all ages and abilities.
  • Julie Robinson Mathematics FestivalPerfect for younger math learners, this site offers interactive games that support joyful math learning.
  • Math PlaygroundInteractive website offering math games for K-6 learners.
  • iReady Math: Grades 3-8, available for free through students’ KIPP NJ Clever accounts. Supports student growth with targeted math practice and support at individual level. 
  • Achieve 3000 Math: Grades 9-10, available for free through students’ KIPP NJ Clever accounts. Supports student growth with targeted math practice and support at individual level.

English Language Arts

  • Epic BooksA digital reading platform featuring 40,000+ high-quality books that builds reading confidence for students 12 and under.
  • Commonlit.orgA digital reading platform for middle and high schools students with a wide library of text genres and topics for individual exploration and practice. 
  • Accelerated Reader: Grades 3-8, available for free through students’ KIPP NJ Clever accounts. Support student reading and writing skills through reading comprehension quizzes.
  • Quill: Grades 5-12, available for free through students’ KIPP NJ Clever accounts. Provides free writing and grammar activities for middle and high school students.
  • iReady ELA: Grades 3-8, available for free through students’ KIPP NJ Clever accounts. Supports student growth with targeted reading comprehension practice and support at individual level. 
  • Achieve 3000 Reading: Grades 9-10, available for free through students’ KIPP NJ Clever accounts. Supports student growth with targeted reading comprehension practice and support at individual level. 
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