Just give up on distance learning

Most kids aren’t going back to school this calendar year; school districts have already conceded as much, as have many universities. Parents are in this not just for a few weeks, but for a few months.

And is this how families want to be spending the next months? Sitting inside staring at a computer screen for six hours a day? Most adults have a hard time in online meetings for that long for one day; it’s completely unreasonable to expect it of a child for months on end. And it’s leading to behavior issues, too. On one recent Facebook thread about screen time–generated outbursts, one mother wrote, “This is a major conflict in our family because we do not believe in this amount of screen time, and the kids thrive without it. Yet it is expected in order for online learning to occur.”

Schools can still play a constructive role, even if they aren’t holding online classes for kids stuck in their homes. Instead of spending time on online lessons and hours of videochats, schools need to provide a crash course in education for parents, provide loose individual lesson plans and suggestions, and operate as a help line. When I chose home education for my children, I had the benefit of years of reading about educational theory and philosophy and best practices, in anticipation of teaching my children when they became school-age. Parents across the country have been thrown into the deep end of the pool, and they could use much more support.

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