Leisa Morton-Standish, PhD

Director of Elementary Education


he schools were shuttered to keep out Covid-19. Our best distance learning ideas were shared, zoom licenses soared and slack accounts ran hot. However, despite our best efforts in the virtual classroom, The Washington Post reported that the homeschooling during the coronavirus would set back a generation of children. Other experts agreed.

At the beginning of the crisis, Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, stated “Clearly, students aren’t going to learn as much as they could if schools were open.”

Now we face the reality of adding the regular academic losses over the summer. We also have to consider the impact of the social and emotional trauma our students have faced as the safety, predictability and security of their world has turned upside down. This summer can we advance the losses by closing the screens and encouraging experiential learning and family bonding while continuing to build belonging in our school communities?

We don’t have all the answers, but we have learned some lessons over the last three months about distance learning, about supporting our students and about the power of human relationships.

Here are some ideas, each suggestion includes a family learning experience and a connection with the school and teacher to create a purpose and audience for these authentic learning experiences:

  • Encourage families to start a weekly book club where they each read a book that has ideas for weekly discussion topics. Consider making random appearances to connect with families virtually to share in the discussion.
  • Set up tourism style scavenger hunts for your students. Incorporate math, mapping, writing, reading, critical thinking and problem-solving. Host a location where they can text or email pictures and solutions to the problems.
  • Encourage parents or grandparents to teach students a new skill or re-engage in an activity they loved as a child, like cooking, knitting, robotics, model airplanes, woodworking, gardening or a myriad of other options. Use your fun Friday’s or regularly scheduled time next year in school for your students to teach the class what they learned.
  • Suggest activities for a summer family road trip and ask the students to create a visual diary, vlog, blog or other formats to document and share the experience by uploading it to a shared classroom space. Capitalize on these experiences, skills and resources in the following school year:
    • Using a paper map or Atlas for kids to plot the destinations, calculate distances, direct the route, estimate times, and other math skills
    • Create a theme like civil war sites, presidential houses and libraries, church history, civil rights locations, mountains, geology, or a topic of interest to families
    • Take pictures of topography, elevations, mile markers, and interstate numbers
    • Listen to podcasts about the locations and interesting stories about historical events in the areas you are passing through

If your school has ideas for experiential learning over the summer to keep kids learning in innovative ways, please share them with us on Facebook (Adventist Education).

Let’s keep those connections fresh over this summer, let’s give our students opportunities to experience learning and continue to connect them with our school community and to Jesus.


This article references Homeschooling during the coronavirus will set back a generation of children, a Washington Post perspective piece written by Kevin Huffman, a former education commissioner of Tennessee; partner at national education nonprofit the City Fund.

The Corona Slide meets the Summer Slump

Summer 2020




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