McDonald County sees slower learning progress in younger students caused by the pandemic

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PINEVILLE, Mo. — due to the pandemic, the McDonald School District has seen younger students get a late start in learning.

Over the last year and a half, educators within the district are seeing students who are going into kindergarten fall behind.

They’re calling it an “education gap”.

The McDonald County School District offers three programs to prepare kids going into kindergarten.

Those include, “parents as teachers”, an “early childhood” program and an “early childhood special education” program.

But over the last year and a half, educators have found it difficult to go forward with them because of quarantines, lockdowns and unsure parents.

“The students have been modeled for the last year and a half with masks on a lot of times, and so they’ve missed a lot of learning cues. The thing we’ve found with our Early Childhood Program is that we have a huge influx of children with speech language difficulties this year,” said Shelly Emmert – Pineville Primary Early Childhood Teacher.

Emmert adds before the pandemic, they saw kids make education gains as much as 80 percent. Now, they’re lucky to see half of that.

“What we’ve found is that number has really decreased. I would say it’s more around 30 to 40 percent for those children that missed out,” said Emmert.

Now, as life is getting to a new normal, the district is hoping to further these programs, offering families speech training, occupational therapy, early childhood special education, physical therapy and more.

“We touch on the what we call the pre academic skills. The ABC’s, colors, shapes, you know we include that in as well. We also address the other skills, because these are the skills that are important for the kids to have in order just to access the school environment,” said Jennifer Tinsley – McDonald County Schools Early Childhood Sped Coordinator.

“If they don’t have that exposure, and they don’t get that exposure early, then Kindergarten tends to be a struggle. They have difficulties sitting down, paying attention, moving to circle time, those transitions are all difficult for those kids,” said Jeanna Cable – McDonald County Schools Assistant E.C.S.C. Coordinator.

These programs are available in the students homes, the public library and at their school.

If parents are interested in getting their children in one of these programs, call Pineville Primary School at 417-223-3303

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