WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – If you’re a teacher, or a parent with a school-aged child, you may have heard of the summertime slump. It’s the learning loss a child could have over the vacation months when attention switches from lessons to relaxing. 

Add that to the pandemic possibly putting students behind, and there’s a lot stacked against our children this year. So, what can parents do to make sure their kids can keep up.

In a former time when you had a child home with four worksheets, when the worksheets were done it was sort of right in front of you. It was a lot easier to do.

Martha Wright, Executive Director, Laughlin Memorial Chapel

From pencil and paper to digital tablets, learning made a significant shift, especially in the last year. 

While recent state data shows West Virginia’s students have some gaps, it’s not unique to the pandemic year. 

Outside of the pandemic, we do have a gap in achievement in our state and one of those big indicators is in fourth grade reading proficiency. Even in Ohio County, which has a good school district, about half of all kids do not reach the reading proficiency standard.

Martha Wright, Executive Director, Laughlin Memorial Chapel

The West Virginia Board of Education released numbers earlier this month that show only 40% of the state’s students are proficient in English language arts. That dropped from 46% in 2018-2019.

It’s not necessarily the fault of the students, teachers, or even the parents. There were a lot of factors working against our kids this last year, mostly the technology and understanding how to use it. 

We did see children who were many, many assignments behind and I think that they did have some difficulties, so hopefully that is not so much the problem. I ad many conversations with Ohio County Schools tech office who helped us out. Either helping us get a child on their device, or putting a service order out so that when a child did return to school they could fix the device so the child could get caught up on their assignments.

Martha Wright, Executive Director, Laughlin Memorial Chapel

So, how do we help our students?

Try and help them stay on top of assignments and reach out for help, especially if it’s a constant battle over homework. 

Maybe there is a friend or a relative who can sort of intervene a little bit to take that tension out of your relationship as a parent and maybe they can help them. And if you feel like your child is seriously struggling, or your relationship with your child is struggling, see if you can talk to a school counselor or a therapist to help you.

Martha Wright, Executive Director, Laughlin Memorial Chapel

Wright said always encourage reading at any age, even before a child is able to comprehend the book. Plus reading could be something parents and students do together to help strengthen their bond. 

The most important thing for a parent is you have to have a happy and a healthy relationship with your child because that really is a great key for your success.

Martha Wright, Executive Director, Laughlin Memorial Chapel

Wright encourages parents to call the school or other tutoring services for help if they need it. 

Laughlin Memorial Chapel also has after-school programs for students in the Wheeling area. While they typically serve students from Madison Elementary, Ritchie Elementary and Wheeling Middle; the chapel can provide services for students in other areas, but they may not be able to help with transportation.

The after-school program is Monday through Thursday and begins on September 13.

Find more information at laughlinmemorialchapel.org.