By Paula Ebben

WINCHESTER (CBS) — William Teynor’s reading skills are improving every day. A first-grader from Winchester, he goes to a Catholic school and is lucky that much of his school time was in-person this year. But after losing much of kindergarten at the start of the pandemic, his mom, Meghan Teynor, worried he was behind.

“So if your child is struggling with reading, they can’t do math…it’s difficult to do word problems. You are trying to learn the fundamentals of math, you are trying to learn the fundamentals of reading all at the same time when your kindergarten year got cut short,” she said.

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To help him catch up Teynor enrolled him in Kumon, a private tutoring service. “I think it plugged the hole nicely,” she said.

Manjusha Inamdar and her business partner at Kumon have been helping kids for years at their centers in Woburn and Burlington, but during the pandemic, they’ve seen a spike in families looking for help.

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“I think summer will be very busy for us because a lot of children have been back to school and they are finding out they are behind,” Inamdar said.

There isn’t a lot of data to measure exactly how much kids have lost in terms of learning. Educators hope this year’s MCAS test will provide some answers. But research done by the Brookings Institution found that more than three-quarters of the tutoring programs they analyzed during the pandemic resulting in statically significant improvement for students.

Megan Teynor says tutoring and the fact that William had in-person classes for most of the year, have made a world of difference. “If we were doing Zoom, [It would be a] completely different scenario right now. I would be considering that maybe we were not ready for second grade.”

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Many school districts are using state and federal money to offer free summer programs to help children close that learning gap before school starts up again in the fall.

Paula Ebben