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When Covid Learning Loss & Summer Slide Converge

When Covid Learning Loss & Summer Slide Converge

You might ask yourself, “it’s only 8 or 9 weeks, so do I really need to worry about summer slide?” Spoiler alert: YES. Educators have long known “summer slide” is a thing. The 2021-22 school year will be different, though, because for the first time, summer slide will be layered on top of the effects of “COVID learning loss.” Truth is, we don’t know how far behind our students will be at the start of the new school year, or the full scope of what the ongoing impacts might be. One thing’s for sure: NOW is the ideal time to help your student prepare for a successful school year, and we have 6 tips to help you do just that.

  1. Find an Internship, Volunteer, or Shadow Gig. It’s great for your brain to learn new things, and it’s easiest to learn when you’re passionate about the subject. Find out what makes your student tick by discussing their passions with them. If they’re a little too young for an internship, contact a local business and ask them if your student can shadow for a day. Lots of business owners are flattered when asked, and happy to share their passions with young people. Our peer mentors have the expertise and are trained to help your child explore their passions, and can help them find the perfect summer opportunity, or even create their own.


  2. Sign Up for Summer School and/or Summer Camps. There are many in-person and online Summer Enrichment Classes and Leadership programs available. Teen Innovators will offer 5-week online Summer Camps designed for 3 Tracks: High School Prep, College Prep, and Innovation. Beginning July 26, we’ll offer a 1-week, in-person Boot Camp in the city of Chicago, that will combine our best leadership classes from all 3 tracks into a fun and powerful program, just in time to get students back-to-school ready. Join our mailing list to be the first to know when registration becomes available.


  3. Try some Hands-On STEM activities. Though we learn in different ways, 75% of us learn best when we do something ourselves. There are many hands-on STEM activities available online. Suggest that your child try one of them, or better yet -share an activity with a younger peer or sibling. Sometimes, teaching is the best way to learn something. Not into STEM? Try a new sport! Getting physical is a great way to feel your best, and gain mental focus.


  4. Let them CREATE! Whether it’s cake-baking, gardening or making a YouTube video, our minds expand when we create something. While it’s okay to spend downtime watching t.v., scrolling on social media, or watching YouTube videos, it’s a slippery slope. When you add up the time the average person spends watching t.v., it amounts to more than a decade over a lifetime. Just think about what you could do with 10 years of your life! Explain to your child that, while you’re ok with them taking downtime, you’re not ok with them wasting literally years of life looking at what others are creating. Encourage them to create something themselves. Even if it’s a quick watercolor or batch of cupcakes.
  5. Mmmmmm….cupcakes. Keep on Reading. Even books read for fun are great to help your child read faster, gain comprehension skills, and learn new vocabulary words. Call your local librarian, and let them help you find selections that are different from what you might not find on your own. Hoopla and Overdrive are great apps that can help you download books right to your iPad or tablet with a library card number.


  6. Connect with a Peer Mentor. Yes, I know this sounds self- serving. But peer mentoring has been studied and reported to positively impact: social skills, competence, school and peer connectedness, confidence and self-esteem. Our older teen mentors have been fully vetted, and hand-selected for their accomplishments and positive, can-do personalities, as well as their passion and ability to work with young people. Our peer mentors foster strong, caring relationships with their mentees, and encourage them to be confident and successful. Our young mentees report feeling ‘happier’ right from their first mentor session.

When Covid hit last year, we unwillingly welcomed a new normal. And now, as we slowly return to normalcy, it’s possible that some of the old ways of being and learning will never be the same again. Due to a year of Covid remote learning, gaps in the learning process have been exacerbated. And we really don’t know what the long-term impacts of that will be. The convergence of both Covid learning loss and the dreaded summer slide will create a unique situation for students this coming school year. But with the advice above, and some extra grace and understanding, your child will be ready to move forward into an exciting future this fall and beyond.


Christine Hutchison, mother of two and Founder of Teen Innovators, with Kate Szczudlo, Manager of Curriculum and Training at Teen Innovators, High School English Teacher and Speech Coach, and mother of three. Teen Innovators is a self-led superb peer mentorship program, created by teens for teens. Providing Leadership and Life Skills your (pre)teen will actually listen to. Sign Up for our program today.

Want to discuss a personalized track for your student? Book a 15-minute call with Christine to discuss an individualized track for your child.


From Chemist to Entrepreneur, How One Expert Mentor Strove to Find Her Unique Voice.

From Chemist to Entrepreneur, How One Expert Mentor Strove to Find Her Unique Voice.

Q: Who is Lindsey Wander and what is Worldwise Tutoring?

 A: Lindsey Wander would describe herself as many things; a biologist, a chemist, a teacher, engineer, and world traveler. Obviously very accomplished women, Wander graduated from the California State University-Fresno with degrees in biology, chemistry and math.  Following her graduation she traveled the world completing internships and research programs looking for something to spark her interests, it wasn’t until she landed a role as a teacher that Wander learned her true calling. During our interview Wander stressed the importance of having passion in your career and the impact it has. Now the creator of World of the Wise tutoring, Wander strives to educate people from 2 years of age all the way up to 50. When she started her career in a low income middle school she realized the boundary school systems hold on education. By starting her own company Wander has been able to educate people in school and the real world.


Q: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
A: Don’t let yourself be boxed in by a label. Labels can stunt your passions, you should strive to find your own unique voice. 


Q:What does success look like to you?
A: Finding your true purpose. Wander genuinely looks forward to going into work, she has something that she is proud of with or without financial success. Wander stressed that she was individually proud of herself and no longer bases her success on other people.


Q: Favorite places to travel?
A: Southeast Asia 


After speaking with Lindsey Wander, the founder of World Wise Tutoring it is easy to say that Lindsey is a very accomplished woman.To start her teaching career Wander went back to school to become a certified teacher, once she graduated she immediately began working as a middle school teacher in a low income neighborhood. This was the second turning point in Wanders’ life. She quickly realized in her middle school career that there were so many boundaries placed on education. Certain books cannot be read, there’s a state and school wide curriculum and there are multiple subjects being taught within the same 8 hour period.


Written by Quinn Wright, peer mentor, a senior at DePauw University where she is double majoring in history and global health.  

Lindsey Wander is an expert mentor at Teen Innovators.  Student’s in the growth subscription can book a session with her. 

Why I Created a Business During COVID around Connection

Why I Created a Business During COVID around Connection

When COVID crept into our lives, life as we knew it was forever changed. We have all been affected by this pandemic as a collective. But we have also had very individual and unique personal experiences of it. Taking the ‘busy’ out of life allowed me to think, to look around, and experience life through the eyes of my teenage son. 

Our family was spending quality time together, however, I realized that during this time of remote learning when teens can’t physically be together, connection and a sense of purpose are more important than ever. They are key to feeling a sense of hope and inspiration for all of us, but especially teens, for whom peer relationships are so important.

That is when I knew I needed to think big and create something that had a lasting impact.

Start with ‘What If?’

Know your Why

Surround Yourself with Big Thinkers

Chicago is a town with big ideas and an incredible innovative ecosystem. Luke Tanen, Executive Director, Chicago Innovation, believes that ”In times of crisis, there is usually mass amounts of innovation.” Tom Kuczmarski, co-founder of Chicago Innovation states in a Chicago Tribune article that the key to beating the coronavirus is innovation.

Ideas Turn Into Innovation

Being a Good Mentor

Being a Good Mentor

What does it take to be a good mentor to someone. One answer could be that a mentor is a wise, articulate person with vast life experience and willing to share that experience. Another could be that a good mentor is one who can give the mentee the ‘Easy Button’, i.e. solve their issues. However, I think that the main quality of being a good mentor is being able to actually listen to what the mentee has to say, empathize with them, then offer educated advice based on their own experiences. The advice should also be relevant to the familiarity the mentee has with the subject at hand. This, in my opinion, keeps the mentee engaged in learning from the mentor because they are not just ‘learning’ skills that they already knew but also benefiting from the mentor’s knowledge. A good mentor also gives the mentee a framework to think and solve issues rather than just solving the issue at hand. Finally, a strong relationship between a mentor and a mentee is also characterized in the mentor learning some experiences in life from the mentee as well. No one knows everything or has experienced everything in life; both a mentor and mentee can gain new perspectives on the world, no matter how much experience in life they thought they had before.

One example of mentoring that stood out the most for me was when my dad helped me prepare for high school interviews. Despite his 25+ years of professional career where he has had a lot of interviewing experience and has also been personally involved in interviewing prospective students for Northwestern, he didn’t right away start preaching how to give a good interview. Instead, he held a preliminary mock interview with me, gave me feedback on what I did well and what I could improve on. He understood the story I wanted to tell and gave me tips on how to tell my story most effectively. This made me more interested in what he was saying, and it helped me take ownership of my own narrative at actual high school interviews. It also made me ready for any question that was thrown at me, as he helped me view the interview as a way to tell my own story instead of a Q+A session.

This style of mentorship was also best shown in the show 30 Rock. The show mainly revolves around two people in a mentor-mentee relationship who at the beginning of the show have almost nothing in common.

  • The boss (Mentor) The boss who is an emotional recluse, is extremely career driven and only cares for corporate profits
  • The employee (Mentee) The employee though dedicated to her job, does not take life seriously.

However, as the show progressed, the relationship between these two became the strongest out of any in the show. This is because from the beginning, they were able to form a strong bond based on their professional respect for each other, their willingness to listen to each other and learn from each other. Along the way, they ended up helping each other find a balance in their personal lives as well as in their careers.

It doesn’t matter how different the mentor and mentee are, be that in life experiences, knowledge, etc. All it takes to lay the groundwork for a good mentor-mentee relationship is just to listen, empathize and offer informed advice based on what you listen. It will eventually foster a relationship which is strong, respectful and beneficial to both the mentor and mentee.

by Rohan Nadkarni ’22, recently has competed in several state and local debate competitions.