The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to move to virtual learning after spring break this year. Now, in the middle of summer, some parents are becoming concerned about the "vacation" their kids had from in-school learning. So they are using the summer to get a jump on the school year.
Rising first-grader Wesley Pritchett loves his nerf gun and making friends with the neighborhood cats but wasn't so fond of reading.
"I noticed Wesley was having trouble putting together the phonetic sounds of words where some of his classmates were sailing through that part," said his mother Gini.
The Pritchett's, like so many other parents, worked to help keep their son engaged and growing academically.
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"I've never taught anyone to read before, so yeah it was a challenge," said Gini.
A survey from the Texas Education Agency shows between 11% and 13% of families with kids in the PRE-K to Kindergarten age didn't even attempt to do learning from home. The numbers got slightly better as kids moved up in grades.
Roland Omene runs Fort Worth-based Frog Tutoring. He said parents across the country are hiring tutors at levels he's never seen before.
"I was just looking at the data for June for what we did at this point last year I think we're up about 70% already," said Omene.
Jennifer Gyures’ daughter Katie loves school and is ahead, but Jennifer admits she started to worry the second school shifted to at-home learning.
"I was worried they wouldn't complete the academic school year on task, they would be a little bit behind," said Gyures.
So many parents are afraid about the time students lost, schools are stepping in too.
The University of North Texas at Denton hired elementary and high school level teachers and started a free online virtual academic summer camp called "catch up" to try to help students stay on track.
"After the pandemic, we thought this was the best way to reach students and connect them with instructors and catch up with the lost time," said Maurizo Manzo, Professor of Engineering at UNT-Denton.
Fort Worth ISD also launched a summer zoom program to help those students who were behind. School leaders were surprised at how many students signed up, showed up, and got better.
Wesley Pritchett was one of them.
"He's reading at middle of first-grade level now. That's been through the support from his teacher and the summer enrichment program and some support from us," said Gini.
The tutors and school-based programs had such a demand, they're hoping to keep similar help available through the school year.
Here are some you may want to consider.