School was Gabriel’s solace. It was where he found the most exploration, fun, and even at times, peace. For him, learning and expanding his mind was just as fun as playing outside. And for a long time, it was giving him exactly what he needed to have a content life.
Especially so, since his mother passed away when he was younger. At the time, he didn’t fully understand what had happened, but the older he got, the more his father and his stepmother, Cynthia, had noticed that his emotional stability was staggering, unable to cope with the loss of somebody he loved at such a young age.
After starting therapy several years ago, Gabriel learned that being around people and things that lifted him was a great way of keeping his outlook positive. And for a while, he was able to do just that at school. He’d involved himself in an after school program that helped tutor the younger kids in his school so he could feel a sense of leadership and confidence in himself.
But once the repercussions of the pandemic hit in March of 2020, everything that made him feel excited, motivated and confident was stripped away, as virtual learning became full-time, and all community and school-wide activities were pulled.
Mental and physical changes happened to many families during the nation-wide shutdown of COVID-19. For Gabriel, his entire structure was built around the physical community he had at school. So when life changed and things became virtual, he didn’t know where to turn for that familiar sense of community and challenge.
Within the month of March, his after school activities were pulled away, along with friend meetups, weekend sports, and most importantly, in-person therapy. His life suddenly revolved around one small computer screen, and soon it felt like he had nobody to turn to for support.
Gabriel’s grades started plummeting. His stepmom Cynthia noticed it right away. Gabriel had always been a strong influence on his younger sister, who was entering kindergarten but was a failure-to-thrive student. But now, he was suffering just like she was, and started to feel like he couldn’t serve as a strong influence on her.
His community was stripped, as his therapist and his friends at school could only be seen through a screen. His lifelines to staying positive and active were dipping, just like many other children and working adults around the country at the time.
For the first time, too, his grades began to slip. With being distant from his support system of his classmates, his teachers, and his therapist, he wasn’t able to focus on his work all by himself alone, without the support of his school community. Cynthia saw this and knew that he needed something to help motivate him to keep improving and pushing.
Cynthia met Gabriel’s father a year after his mother passed away, so she’d known Gabriel almost all of his life. She knew that having something with structure, something fun, and something to hold him accountable would help Gabriel get out of his funk.
Typically, she tried to get suggestions from Youtube videos. For Gabriel’s situation, there were a lot of issues under the surface, so Cynthia found it difficult to find something that could address it all.
After a couple of days, Cynthia came across a video review of a program called Elephant Learning, a math platform for kids. Gabriel actually loved math, but like his other friends, was struggling through the virtual learning platform, making it difficult for him to grasp onto new concepts.
So, Cynthia browsed through the Elephant Learning website, and saw a lot of accountability and training boosters that came along with the platform. After much research, she told Gabriel about it, and he hesitantly agreed, not thinking it would do much.
But it did more than both of them would think.
Gabriel had always loved games that were equally fun and challenging. He was seen as an older soul amongst his class, so outside of being entertained, he wanted to know that he was grasping information that he could carry with him. So naturally, getting real insights into his progress with Elephant Learning through his Elephant Age immediately engaged him.
The Elephant Age is the unit of measurement on the platform that shows a student’s improvement. When Gabriel started the program, he was at an Elephant Age of 10 years (and his actual age was 12 years old). He liked how he was able to track his progress from the beginning, and in a tangible, practical way (not like in his school with stickers or buttons).
He also liked seeing how many years he was gaining on the platform, and equally, how he and his mom could review his work after his sessions. Each parent in the program has access to their child’s progress through email reports and on their personalized dashboard. There, they can see what concepts their child is understanding, what concepts they’re struggling with, and how they can be the best possible coach.
Cynthia knew that Gabriel wanted to look at the results with her, and plan dedicated times for him to play and for them to review his work. The suggested time for the platform is 10 minutes a day for 3 days a week, but Gabriel got an extension to sometimes 30 minutes a day because he loved it so much.
Having a structure with the math program not only helped Gabriel start moving back up in math, but it gave him a reason to work hard. He saw his improvements in real-life numbers, and worked with his mom to grow at an astronomical rate to show to his teachers.
Here’s what he and his mother did: every weekday after he was done with virtual learning, he had a lunch break. After his lunch break, he spent about an hour playing, watching a show, or talking on Facetime with his friends. Then at 3:00 pm, Cynthia would whip up a snack for him, and set it on the couch. He’d sit himself on the couch and play on Elephant Learning. What started to be just 10 minutes turned into 15, then 20, then 25. He wasn’t getting burned out, though. Just the opposite. He was seeing his improvement clearly, and was motivated to keep pushing so he could jump an entire year in less than a month. Would he make it? Well, you’ll see for yourself.
This habit happened every weekday, and it not only started building his self-confidence, but it gave him something regular to do that reminded him of his afterschool program. Though he wasn’t working with other students, he was seeing how much he was growing in a quick time span, watching himself master concepts that were challenging a couple of days ago, and most importantly, having fun with it. He was feeling the rush of learning and growing again, even though he was away from what he thought he needed.
Elephant Learning brought to light a new way for Gabriel to learn, grow, and be confident. He wasn’t just advancing his math skills; he was creating a habit that made him continually happy, challenged, and engaged. He knew that this was what he needed, especially being away from school for so long, and Cynthia felt a sense of relief as she’d watch him grow with the platform.
Elephant Learning helped Gabriel find a game that was fun, challenging, and showed him real, tangible results. But it’s not just for preteens; Elephant Learning extends to many ages, and can help kids struggling with self-confidence, math struggles, or even the remote learning blues.
What would your life be like if your child wasn’t struggling in math?