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Grade 2 students work on math worksheets in an outdoor tent at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School in Gatineau, Que., last fall.Justin Tang for The Globe and Mail

Schools in Quebec opened this week, and students elsewhere in the country will be returning within the next two weeks. Some parents are worried that their children face gaps in learning after months of pandemic-related disruptions to education. Here are five ways to help kids catch up.

Support literacy and numeracy in everyday routines

Lisa Nave, a Toronto elementary school teacher, said families can play games such as UNO, count coins in a child’s piggy bank or read maps together. For older children, having them follow baking recipes could help teach them measuring and organizing skills.

Establish a reading routine

Educators say it’s beneficial for parents to establish routines with young children where they read together, at the same time and place each day, for as little as 10 minutes.

Cristina Salmini, a superintendent of education at the Halton District School Board, said that sometimes we move away from reading with children as they grow older. However, she said, reading books with them “is a great way to foster a love of reading and can even help your child learn new words. The words your child hears will eventually be words that they read on their own.”

Back-to-school advice from kids, for kids

Let them pick their own books

Ms. Salmini encourages families to visit libraries, where children can pick their own books. She said that parents should not worry about specific reading levels or types of books. “Let your child’s interests and excitement be your guide,” she said.

Be reassuring

Lara Donsky, an educator in Toronto, said many children learned new skills during the past year, including computer skills and self-discipline in online learning environments. She said parents need to reassure their children, and even ask them about their concerns. “If we add anxiety to the mix, students aren’t going to come back ready to learn,” Ms. Donsky said.

Ms. Nave added: “Avoid overemphasizing that you believe your child is behind, and instead emphasize what they have learned, or learning goals they may have for themselves.”

Talk to your child’s teacher

Students’ needs may be more pronounced this year than usual. Ms. Donsky said that teachers will assess their students, but that parents can play a role as well. They should speak with their child’s teacher and let them know of any concerns, she said.


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