Nov 17

Ask A Tutor Tuesday – 11/17/2015

Question: Do you have any suggestions for keeping my student engaged during the holidays? His mother has already approached me about taking a few weeks off in December, and I’m worried about losing the progress we’ve made.

All students experience learning loss over the holiday season. Unfortunately for homeless students, these breaks affect them more acutely and can exacerbate their already existing academic gaps. Fortunately, tutors can help mitigate these learning gaps. The best way to lessen the learning loss your student will experience over the upcoming breaks is to provide your student’s parent with engaging educational activities that they can do together. A successful educational activity should be three things:

  1. Simple – Design an activity that is relatively straightforward. For a lot of parents, time is a precious commodity. Create a simple activity that they can do for an hour every day or every other day.
  2. Realistic – Find an activity that will work with your student’s parents’ schedule and within the limitations of their housing situation. Be realistic about what a student can and is willing to accomplish during the break.
  3. Fun – Use the break as an opportunity to explore a student’s educational interests outside of worksheets and book reports. ELA and math should be components within the activity, not necessarily the focus of the activity. Think creatively!

Some sample activities are:

  1. A journal – This project is straightforward and integrates into a student’s existing holiday plans. Have your student keep and short journal of what they did during their holiday vacation. Younger students can combine words with drawings and collages. To increase the success of this activity, have your students practice keeping a journal before the holiday season starts. Try creating a sample entry together at your last session before the holidays begin.
  2. Independent research activity or self directed art/craft project – Have your student take control of their learning by assisting them in creating a research/art project. Have them research a subject that interests them and then present their research in a creative way when you reconvene after the holidays. Possible topics include: a biography of a famous person they admire or the history of a sport they like. If your student doesn’t have regular internet access, decide on a topic ahead of time and gather and print internet resources for your student before the break starts. Spend your last session before the holidays begin reviewing the gathered resources and outlining the structure of their presentation.   
  3. Reading a book – Recommend a book to your student to read over the holiday break. The Skid Row Learning Center has a large library of novels and picture books for tutors! Also, consider lending your student a copy of a novel that you enjoy.

About the tutor: Emile joined School on Wheels in 2015 as an AmeriCorps Summer VISTA before becoming the Learning Center Support. He previously worked as a LAUSD substitute Elementary School teacher and a graphic designer at Scholastic Book Fairs.

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*Note: Ask A Tutor will be taking a short break and will return on Tuesday, December 8th.