4 Ways to Get Your Student Up to Speed for Back to School This Year

This year has been one of the most challenging on record for students, parents and teachers alike. The impacts of the pandemic have been far-reaching and significant, and we have yet to understand the true long-term effects on our kids’ learning and development.  

As we enter a school year unlike any before, here are four areas you should focus on to get your child back up to speed, based on the best thinking from our Summer Step Up partners. 

Social-emotional learning  

From limited social contact to losing a sense of routine and normalcy, it’s been especially hard for kids who have had little to no in-person school time. We’ve heard from partners across the board how critical boosting social-emotional learning has been.  

“We worked to find ways to help students reconnect after a year of primarily remote learning and limited social interaction due to the pandemic,” said Superintendent Mary Skipper, Somerville Public Schools. “Providing students with opportunities to learn and re-establish those personal connections with peers and adult mentors over the summer months is an important step in helping students prepare for the coming school year.” 

Check out a day at one of our Summer Step Up partners For Kids Only Afterschool for some inspiration on how to incorporate SEL into your learning environment here. 


At the end of last year, students finished an average of five months behind in math – up to seven months in underserved communities. To get them up to speed, and prevent summer learning loss, programs are coming up with creative ways to teach STEM skills. It’s not just about getting kids to count; it’s about making it fun and engaging. From playing outside to building different structures out of blocks, get creative with the ways you’re introducing STEM to your young learner. Bringing in STEM subjects through play like our partners at the Beautiful Stuff Project is a great way to do it.  

Check out a few ways to incorporate creative STEM curriculum from our Summer Step Up partners at JASON Learning here


According to the same report, kids were about four months behind in reading at the end of the last school year. Because of the critical role early reading plays in later academic success, this is an area of particular concern as students return to school.  

“Research continues to show that a strong foundation in the early years sets students up for long-term academic success, like high school and college completion,” said Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.  

Making it fun has been a crucial part of the process. Check out these tips on raising a reader from Scholastic to get started. 

Art & Movement   

As students continue to process the impacts of the pandemic, it’s crucial to provide creative outlets for them to process and express. Throughout the region, our partners are providing critical social-emotional support through dance, yoga, arts and crafts, and so much more. Art is also a great way to get kids involved in the community – whether it’s donating a mosaic or drawing with sidewalk chalk.  

Check out some photos of art in action from our partners at the Beautiful Stuff Project here and here. You can also grab inspiration from these 50 art activities to promote social-emotional learning.