Coronavirus: virtual summer camps in Dubai to help pupils catch up on lost learning

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Academic institutes in the UAE have introduced virtual summer camps to help pupils make up for lost school learning because of Covid-19.

Education experts said many parents have raised concerns of their children falling behind in core subjects as they struggled with the months-long e-learning when schools shut down in March.

Tutoring centres in Dubai reported a surge in interest for one-to-one classes for mathematics, science and English, especially for younger children.

Over the past few weeks, families across the country have signed up for in-house and online summer courses focused on curriculum-based "catch-up sessions".

With the move to online, there has been something of a shift to keep up with schooling over the past term

Alex Rudgalvis

“Summer was always a great time to catch up with any work that had been missed in the previous academic year,” Alex Rudgalvis, centre director for Tutoring Club – Mudon, told The National.

“However, for many children, Covid-19 has highlighted areas they were really struggling with.

“Our summer schools are now online as well as in our centres and there has been more recognition that tuition can help bridge the gap which has widened recently.”

He said demand from parents have changed during the pandemic.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the tutoring centre focused on building foundation skills and addressing areas of weakness.

Now, more parents have requested tutors to focus on a specific curriculum.

“With the move to online, there has been something of a shift to keep up with schooling over the past term,” he said.

Alex Rudgalvis, centre director for Tutoring Club in Mudon, said parents are requesting tutors to focus on a specific curriculum. Courtesy: Alex Rudgalvis
Alex Rudgalvis, centre director for Tutoring Club in Mudon, said parents are requesting tutors to focus on a specific curriculum. Courtesy: Alex Rudgalvis

“We see an intention to use summer holidays to address these gaps, as well as recover any material that has caused concern over the last term.

“They want more teaching to the curriculum because of the lack of time in schools with teachers."

The centre has four branches across Dubai.

Summer camp packages start from Dh720 a week for five one hour sessions, up to Dh4,400 for 40 hours over eight weeks.

So far, the centre has seen lots of fresh inquiries but “slightly fewer new enrolments” due to financial concerns and “fatigue with online learning”.

By mid-July, Mr Rudgalvis said he hoped to have between “40 to 50 new sign ups”.

The majority of interest so far has come from pupils under 12 or those approaching IB and A-level exams.

At The Tutoring Centre in Dubai, its in-house summer sessions have been revised to adhere to health and safety precautions.

To align with the Knowledge and Human Development Authority’s requirements, Dubai’s private school regulator, individual folders with new textbooks would be passed to all pupils to ensure no papers are regenerated or exchanged.

“Our demand for reading comprehension, writing and maths stayed consistent throughout lockdown,” said Joanna Lynch, centre director.

“What was surprising was the amount of early-years support requests we had during the home learning phase.

“I think during home learning, older children were able to be somewhat independent with their approach but younger kids needed constant support and guidance.”

At the Tutoring Center in Dubai, all in-house summer sessions have been tweaked to adhere to health and safety precautions. Courtesy: Joanna Lynch
At the Tutoring Center in Dubai, all in-house summer sessions have been tweaked to adhere to health and safety precautions. Courtesy: Joanna Lynch

Ms Lynch said it also launched a new programme a few months ago designed to keep pupils ahead in mathematics.

For the summer, session scheduling has also been increased.

“Usually, pupils come to the centre two or three times a week,” she said.

“This summer we have added an option of up to five classes a week to help give structure and increased motivation and confidence before the full return to school.

“We’ve reduced our capacity throughout summer in an effort to keep everyone safe.”

Packages for one-to-one instruction start at Dh1,500 for 10 one hour sessions, up to Dh5,300 for 40 sessions.

Ivy Camps USA, which usually runs summer activities out of a Dubai school campus, recently introduced its first virtual summer camp to the UAE.

Coronavirus outbreak

“We believe they are needed now more than ever,” said Nourjannah Hendi, director of Middle East operations.

“More parents and organisations are asking about camp now than before due to several factors.

“More families are staying in the UAE this summer because of Covid-19 and the fears surrounding travel and getting stuck abroad.

“There also seems to be a general sentiment that kids have lost much of the value of learning because of the recent switch to the online platforms, and that parents are afraid that this loss will continue.”

The camps, which include lessons on the science of motion and machines and game theory, strategy and chance, will run until August 14.

Parents can choose from three-week packages or mix-and-match one-week camps.

Prices start from Dh2,200 ($605) for the three-week package, or Dh860 ($235) for the one-week course.

Updated: July 6, 2020 04:51 PM

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