We don't doubt the importance of school and learning—whatsoever. I think most parents are feeling extra grateful for the teachers, aides and other school staff members in their children's lives these days.
But we also don't doubt the amount of emotional, physical and mental labor that is placed on mothers around the world right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. With many workplaces closed, no childcare, no school, no activities, mothers are being asked to not only continue maintaining their workload, but also to teach their child(ren), set up and maintain their Google classroom/FaceTime call schedule/Zoom meeting calendars, as well as cook, clean, do laundry, order groceries or go grocery shopping and attempt to care for ourselves on top of all that.
Even if we are quarantined with partners to help at home—which not everyone is—the work and worry load piled on us right now is not normal, not okay and frankly, not all doable.
We're finding that some things have to go, or fall by the wayside to keep our families afloat.
This week, Sarah Parcak, mother, Egyptologist, professor and author of Archaeology From Space, announced that for her family, it was keeping up with her son's virtual classroom. She spoke the truth many moms are feeling—that survival and the well-being of their family members are paramount right now. And for many of us, that does not include keeping up with classwork.
"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.
"Don't any of you dare offer help or resources. We both work full time, I also help run my non profit AND manage a complex project in Egypt AND am running a Covid-19 tracking platform. So, his happiness trumps crappy math worksheet management.
"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.
"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. He plays playmobile with my husband (mega imagination)
"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).
"PS You do what's right for your family and mental health. Obviously kids 10+ can cope better with independent work (sometimes). The littles cannot.
"I give you permission to Let It All Go. It doesn't matter. School doesn't matter right now. All your kids will remember is how they were loved. Promise."
We just wrote a hard email. I told our son’s (lovely, kind, caring) teacher that, no, we will not be participating… https://t.co/tmyhBDL3IE— Dr. Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) 1586347066.0
Parents from all over the interwebs chimed in both agreeing and disagreeing with Parcak. Reasons for opting out of the virtual classroom (or maybe just relieving the pressure of it and doing what they can) ranged from not having a printer available to them in order to print the many worksheets, working full-time and not being able to manage all of the classwork with them, having children with special needs, having children in different grade and skill levels, not having access to laptops and other resources—the reasons ran the gamut.
Some parents are focusing mostly on life skills.
@indyfromspace This is brilliant. At the other end of the age spectrum, I have a high school senior. He is playing… https://t.co/ox51hswGX7— Sarah Goodyear (@buttermilk1) 1586378174.0
@indyfromspace I'm asking my kids to do one "educational" thing a day, one physical, and one social. Giving them a… https://t.co/at85I7pkog— Bridget Meeds (@Bridgetinithaca) 1586351898.0
While other families are enjoying the focused time they are able to get their kids involved in the virtual classroom.
@indyfromspace I applaud your decision. For us, it turns out the 2 hrs we spend on Google Classroom every morning i… https://t.co/C1dNAiyoJJ— Dr. Gienow-McConnell (@HaleyAnnGM) 1586365764.0
But many families don't have access to laptops or desktop computers, which is unfair and problematic.
@indyfromspace I've refused all live learning expectations for all of my children. It's not feasible or reasonabl… https://t.co/4Ugg3FcCd4— Snarcasm Queen (@MoreOrLessAMess) 1586383092.0
And many teachers are saying take note, Moms and Dads—the pressure is on them, too.
@indyfromspace While I fully respect your decision, please don’t assume that what was assigned was solely based on… https://t.co/K7T7vs66x0— Miss Nikki (@MissNikkiIn5th) 1586381637.0
Countless teachers and counselors chimed in to let parents know that they understand and they support them in doing what's best for their families.
@indyfromspace If your kid is healthy, clean, well fed and protected right now, you’re 100% doing your job and apol… https://t.co/XST8wUj2cG— Mike Snoonian (@mike_snoonian) 1586396550.0
@indyfromspace I'm a teacher and I get it. It's okay. We are all in survival mode. Do what is right for your family and stay safe.— Margaret Rodrigue (@margaret_living) 1586348665.0
@indyfromspace I’m a former classroom teacher (HS) and I’d welcome an email like this. You know your kid and you’re… https://t.co/4td41fBvKu— Dr. Lindsay Stallones Marshall (@lindstorian) 1586386445.0
@indyfromspace I am a teacher and parent and am glad that you decided to take the power of what goes on into your h… https://t.co/2PXDZI83mL— Tyisha Clemmons (@TyishaClemmons) 1586373328.0
After reading messages accusing Parcak of not appreciating teachers, she took to Twitter again to clarify the fact that she is very appreciative of them, stating in fact that she "cannot do what they do."
I wrote a thread earlier that is going viral about our refusal to homeschool, and a bunch of folks took it to mean… https://t.co/N38AdlzM8p— Dr. Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) 1586367928.0
Same, Sarah. Same.
I think it's safe to say that none of us really know what we're doing right now. We're sort of flying by the seat of our pants, and that's kind of all we can do.
We're doing the best we can in a really weird, busy and scary time—parents, teachers and most especially, our kiddos, too.