I’m starting to see recommendations floating around the web that suggests that we should lower our standards about what we can get accomplished and not try to home school our kids (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/coronavirus-home-school.html). I thought I’d share my own thoughts on these anti-homework recommendations.
Definitely lower your expectations. I totally agree that lowered expectations are exactly what we should do. I have lowered my expectations about what I will be able to get done while I work and online teach from home. I have lowered my expectations for what my master’s students will learn. I have also lowered my expectations for what my kids will learn and experience this year. Some parents are frantic about the ways in which this school-less time will “set their kids back.” I don’t think it is healthy to get into the academic rat-race ever, but particularly not during a pandemic. Once schools start up again, teachers will again masterfully meet the students where they are and help them learn and grow and reach important academic milestones.
But don’t abandon the opportunity to engage with and support your children academically. I do think that kids need to engage in daily learning. I know parents are navigating a whole host of issues – but its also good to remember that – kids actually love to learn. They are learning all the time. In my experience, binge watching tv and playing video games can lead to incredible disregulation, and actually is more work for me in the long run. Sure, I sometimes need to make that trade-off, because I have a conference call that I can’t miss… but I do this sparingly, not because I’m an awesome anti-screen-time-parent, but frivolous screen time can result in some significant behavioral fallout.
Kids do better with a schedule. In my experience I have found that children do better with a structured schedule (that’s why educational professionals use them in schools / day cares for kids of all ages). For kids who have experienced trauma – or are experiencing trauma in our current pandemic – they need the stability of knowing what their days will look like. Our schedules include academic homework, chores, and physical activity but our schedule also includes fun things – like video chatting with their friends, making rice crispy treats, and play time. I’m skeptical of recommendations to let your kids binge watch or play video games, which may result in some short term contentedness, but will likely backfire, particularly as the shelter-in-place recommendations extend.
Let your kids explore. One of the best aspects of this current situation is that we get to take a step back from the unquestioned standards of what our children should be learning, and we get to allow ourselves to get a little more free in letting kids drive their own learning. You might want to see what your kids gravitate toward, what holds their interest, what passions might they discover as they get the time and freedom to explore.