Social engagement in online classes at Digital Dragon.

What can parents do stop the education gap?

As we continue into the unknown, there are some things we can rely on – for better or worse. One thing that has reared its head early is Summer Slide. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of slide that’s fun, but rather threatens to put our learners behind in their educational journey. While I am a strong advocate for pacing and personalized learning, I am aware that there is plenty of opportunity for gaps to appear in time where traditional learning moments seem far and few between. Our current situation has compounded that. So how do we combat the early onset of Summer Slide?  

As our educators truly tackle a monster and do the best they can, we can help – as can our community. There are moments – maybe more so than ever before – to spark playful interactions and encourage continued learning. So let’s talk about the benefits and strategies for doing so.  

If we acknowledge the bridge between play and learning, we can then easily link learning to reducing anxiety. Creating a safe environment for curiosity and learning is paramount. Moments can look like a quick game, making music (or just singing a favorite song), stop-motion films, and artworks with any medium you’re comfortable with.  

Play – and learning as extension of it – establishes the ability to take control of your situation. Clearly, in uncertain times, this can be extremely impactful as so many aspects are currently out of our hands. Engaging in learning activities will boost self worth as challenges and puzzles are overcome.  

Learning moments and interactions allow for recognition for new opportunities. One thing that is imperative to take away from what we’re experiencing is what we learned during this. Questions to consider: what will be the same, what was forced to change, and what reactions to these conditions worked better than before this? Play and learning challenges can provide easier avenues to the “what if” future.  

Outlined in some of the prior posts, it is encouraged to find what you’re comfortable with in terms of those playful activities, and also OK to reach out to your community. What virtual events are going on? Are there virtual / blended summer camps, friendly Zoom meet-ups, or other socially engaging happenings?  

Naturally, Digital Dragon has virtual summer camps this summer for all ages!


We’re living through a significant moment in history. While we cope with that concept, how can we progress and come out better on the other side? Learning/Playing inherently eases the stress caused by change. We’re not alone in this and we certainly have our limitations for finding the moments mentioned above. Look towards your community for support and a chance to learn!


John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.