Recent headlines have thrown the topic of learning gaps into the spotlight — but the good news is that our expert coaches have been addressing learning gaps in middle and high schoolers for many, many years. What follows are concrete tools that can help your child identify and manage their individual weaknesses and learning gaps in the short and long term. After all, celebrating areas of strength and focusing on growth where it’s needed is really what underpins a valuable learning experience!
Identifying strengths & weaknesses
At Private Prep, we generally advocate reflective engagement with all feedback as the best way to actively pursue growth. More than that, being in touch with strengths and weaknesses is the best way to avoid the development of new learning gaps. For students, that means the following:
- Develop personal relationships with teachers. Ask teachers to take a look at a rough draft of a project. Share a study guide you make and invite teacher feedback. Stay after class and clarify an idea that you’re unsure of. If you open the door for it, teachers will not only tell you what to work on but will give you the tools to do it! Not to mention the fact that they’re likely to give partial credit or round up if they know that you’re actively engaged in your learning.
- Reflect on feedback. When tests, essays, or projects are returned, don’t just look at the final grade! Take note of teacher comments and the types of questions you missed. This data is crucial to self-assessment and to doing better next time. Take it to the next level and chart types of mistakes across multiple assignments so that you can see patterns.
- Check-in with yourself. Once a week, reread your notes to confirm they still make sense to you, or try to summarize the key points for the previous few lessons. If you find either of these exercises difficult, your understanding is starting to slip and you should look for extra help from a teacher, a tutor, or a favorite website. Of course, if you need help identifying resources that can help you master content that you’ve identified as challenging, we’re here to help!
What if that doesn’t work?
For many students in most classes, the above strategies can give them the control they need to succeed. That said, if the problem feels bigger than that, our subject tutors can be an incredible resource. Education commissions have identified “high dosage” tutoring as among the most effective interventions for closing learning gaps that exceed the kinds of struggles that are typical of challenging courses and pushing through content that’s a bit confusing. When children are truly behind in course content, just 90 minutes weekky of individualized or small group support has been shown to help students make up over half a year of learning over the course of one academic year.
Moving through middle and high school is stressful for both parents and students, all of whom want to feel empowered and be successful. Reach out to your director to discuss a personalized approach to helping your child be their very best.