Preliminary research on the consequences of school closures due to the pandemic has shown that primary school students made little or no progress at all using remote learning during this period. This delay on math acquisition, in particular, is a serious concern for parents, and above all for teachers and kids who resumed class this year.

Performed in the Netherlands, the study revealed 5.6 weeks of learning delay for every week of absence from the classroom, even with access to broadband internet. According to Dr. Lynda Colgan, a professor who has taught mathematics at all levels from elementary to graduate school, it's common for students to worry about this (so important) subject. They often fear having forgotten what they knew, or that the catch-up is going to be too hard for them. A very real anxiety.

The big problem is that parents and teachers have little means available to assess their children's math comprehension. As the scientists themselves deplore, tools for math assessment are DECADES overdue. Fortunately, for example, researchers at Carleton University Math Lab are currently developing an instrument to measure math understanding for students between grade 1 to 3.

Across all subjects, early math skills are the greatest predictor of future academic success, even more than literacy. However, as Colgan says: “Before we can address the content gaps, we have to build academic resilience and instil positive attitudes in ourselves as educators, and in our students and parents.” Not an easy task indeed.

Picture: Mary Claire (Arcanys Early Learning Foundation)