Schools across the U.S. are closed right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many districts opting to finish out the year with “virtual classrooms,” holding the school day entirely online. While this is a much better option than making children go to the Petri dishes known as public school buildings, it is an extra strain on parents, especially those of younger children who need more supervision.
One mom, who is also a University of Alabama at Birmingham professor and Egyptologist, decided that enough is enough.
We just wrote a hard email. I told our son’s (lovely, kind, caring) teacher that, no, we will not be participating in her “virtual classroom”, and that he was done with the 1st grade. We cannot cope with this insanity. Survival and protecting his well being come first.— Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) April 8, 2020
Before you jump into her mentions with your suggestions and resources, Professor Sarah Parcak would like you to please not.
ie, managing his education is a bridge too far right now. I also cook, manage cleaning, have a garden etc (husband does 50% of housework BTW, we are a team). The thought of homeschooling makes me want to barf. It’s a f*cking joke.— Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) April 8, 2020
A lot of parents are ditching traditional schooling for their kids right now, acknowledging that the pandemic is a huge stressor on both themselves and their children and they all need a break from the drudgery of U.S. school homework. Some more than others.
Our goal is to have our son come out of this happy and not be long term emotionally scarred (lord knows life will do that anyways). Fuck worksheets. Fuck shitty math worksheets especially. Fuck our president to hell.— Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) April 8, 2020
An increasing body of evidence supports the idea that children learn best through play, as they’ve always done, and will learn on their own and at their own pace without being forced to sit at a desk all day while they’re brimming with little kid energy. Now, parents are finding out just how difficult it is to make kids pay attention to boring lessons and worksheets, giving them a new appreciation for teachers, hopefully.
Parents like Parcak are going a step farther, coming to the conclusion that a child’s feelings of safety and love are more important than learning their multiplication tables by age seven.
I give you permission to Let It All Go. It doesn’t fucking matter. School doesn’t fucking matter right now. All your kids will remember is how they were loved. Promise.— Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) April 8, 2020
Go all the way off, professor.
Parcak’s thread has been spreading quickly since Wednesday, sparking a discussion about the U.S. education system and what’s most important for young children in a time of crisis.
Some people have been less than supportive of Parcak’s message, but many other parents have echoed her sentiments.
“How is a rainbow made” watch my two middle fingers. Together they make a rainbow.— Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) April 8, 2020
I’m asking my kids to do one “educational” thing a day, one physical, and one social. Giving them a free pass on the zooms if they want cause those are weird and tiring if you are not into it. Staying mellow. Lots of life learning going on.
— Bridget Meeds (@Bridgetinithaca) April 8, 2020
I’ve refused all live learning expectations for all of my children.
It’s not feasible or reasonable. We don’t have desktops, laptops, and rely on mobile internet. And I’m still going to work everyday.
— Snarcasm Queen (@MoreOrLessAMess) April 8, 2020
I should mention that our daughter's teacher is a gem, and created a daily structure that requires a two hour investment AT MOST. Just enough to keep the kids fresh, and in some form of routine. It's supplemental, not comprehensive. If/when it stops working for us, we'll opt out.— Dr. Gienow-McConnell (@HaleyAnnGM) April 8, 2020
I did this and the relief is unreal! I’m a single parent working as an EDRN right now. My 6 year old is fine. My 5 year old is drawing on walls and destroying my Lego masterpieces...this is what we need!— PPENOW (@turdytoddler) April 9, 2020
Others, including teachers and education experts, are generally supportive of the idea that a kid’s well-being is more important than their ability with numbers.
A UK Headteacher: “It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you’re trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns…
— Hugh Waterhouse (@winterroom) April 8, 2020
My preschool director wrote this, suggesting exactly what you just did. I hope more parents follow suit. pic.twitter.com/uRXCxyOALx
— Flat Curves Are Sexy (@howtoraiseajerk) April 8, 2020
If it helps, my parents = forestry contractors. Pulled us out in April/May for most of grade school (to work camps in northern BC, where we entertained ourselves). Neither of our parents had uni.
Didn’t hurt us. 3 brothers: 2 PhDs, other an award-winning sci writer/illustrator.
— Jason Loxton (@jason_loxton) April 8, 2020
As a former teacher, I completely agree.
Living is learning.
Children will remember how you made them feel, more than they’ll ever remember math problems.
— that one girl (@Lorisadventure) April 9, 2020
Speaking from the teacher side, totally get it. 👍
My admin makes us add more and more work, and I’m like, “WHY? My students have relatives dying of COVID in the hospital! They have parents who are up to their elbows in work and can’t tutor! STOP MAKING US ADD TO THE STRESS!”
— Josiah Hawthorne (@JosiahHawthorne) April 8, 2020
Don’t expect yourselves to do it all. Stress weakens the immune system.