The hardest thing to be in quarantine is a parent. Parents have to continue to work, but now they're at the same time responsible for child care and teaching. It's too much. It's undo-able. And one mom has had enough.
Sarah Parcak recently went viral for a thread in which she explained why she would no longer be homeschooling her first-grader. Her position is the most understandable in the world. It's simply impossible to be everything for your children at once and also work to provide for them. And the first thing to go will be "crappy math worksheets."
I 100 percent empathize with this position. What do you do in first grade anyway? Learn simple addition and spelling? Learn to share and work in groups? It's all about gaining life experience at that point and less about memorizing facts and handling complex concepts.
Parents can give their first graders that without adhering to a rigid curriculum. Plus, it's impossible. In her thread, Sarah explains that both she and her partner work full time. She helps run a non-profit and manages "a complex project in Egypt," among other things.
"So," she writes, "[my son's] happiness trumps crappy math worksheet management." This, as she points out, is not the fault of the teacher. Teachers are wonderful and doing the best that they can with a bad situation. Schools that are insisting on maintaining full curriculum, especially for little kids, are not thinking at all of parents or time or technological constraints.
It's not like Sarah's son doesn't have an enriching home life. "He reads a lot. Plays outside a lot. We read to him a lot and talk to him a lot. He gets history lessons. There is an app where he can choose books to be read to him. We watch a fun movie every night," she writes.
This is a traumatizing time for everybody. Parents' first priority should be making sure their kids are OK. Some kids don't have the dedicated parents or the parents with the time and resources to give them that enriching home life and education. For some kids, math worksheets and regular assignments might help.
But there has to be some wiggle room for families where this setup doesn't work. Especially when kids are so young. How is completing math worksheets more educational than catching and counting bugs? Watching a classic movie and laughing along with your parents? Playing with blocks and imagining whole worlds?
"I give you permission to Let It All Go," Sarah writes. "It doesn't f--king matter. School doesn't f--king matter right now. All your kids will remember is how they were loved. Promise."
Sarah's thread gained a lot of attention, both good and bad. But when you see the kindergarten schedule one parent was saddled with, you'll start to understand how ridiculous the expectations have been in some circumstances.
This is untenable. What teacher expects parents to be able to teach their kid every weekday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m?! It's impossible. And unnecessary. So they miss the last few months of kindergarten. If they're engaging with fun stuff and learning and reading and living life, they'll be fine.
One parent wrote that she is asking her 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."
That's the way to do it. I'm a full-grown adult and I have trouble concentrating and not tuning out on group Zoom chats. And I am not even trying to learn any new information! I'm just talking to my family!
Think about how your parents have made you feel? Now think about math problems. Which do you remember more? Yeah, I thought so.
Parents are already dealing with so much trying to work and care for their kids at the same time. They don't need the added pressure of teaching them anything other than how to be a good human right now.