Do Parents Take Online School Seriously?

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Emily Eslao

It is not unlikely for students to be pulled from online classes to help around the house, such as doing dishes. Although well-meaning, a parent’s mindset that one can simply opt out of instruction is harmful to a student’s learning experience.

Emily Eslao, Editor/Cartoonist

The switch to online school came with a myriad of its own problems, as the aspects of a traditional classroom had to be translated to remote lessons. It is safe to assume that each student experienced these difficulties to some degree, and those who have may recognize the importance of a parent’s role in the whole situation. 

 

Our parents play a significant role in our overall remote learning experience. First off, they are largely responsible for providing the recommended at-home learning environment. This means there is a dedicated space at home meant for personal use and schoolwork (AOA Academy). Such spaces should be free of distraction and treated with the same consideration that would be extended to a normal classroom. 

 

There is a certain flexibility to online learning, even with having a reserved workspace. The structure of a traditional classroom is nearly impossible to uphold in our own homes, with students receiving instruction solely through a screen; in fact, it is wholly possible to attend the entire school day from the comfort of our beds. With this flexibility comes the opportunity for the situation to be exploited. In this way it makes quite the difference whether or not our parents take online learning seriously. 

 

It would be safe to assume that the majority of parents do not find online learning ideal; in fact, a Columbia University survey found “that 77% of parents” are “very or somewhat concerned” about COVID-19’s negative impact on learning (District Administration). One can entertain the possibility that parents do not acknowledge the rigor or difficulty of online school, or the effort that must be put into staying focused and motivated.

At times it seems as if this regard for remote learning impacts what they expect of their children. It seems all too familiar for students to be pulled from virtual lessons to do tasks such as housework, grocery runs, or simply going out to eat. In addition, parents may take the opportunity to go on vacations or plan trips because their children no longer physically attend school. Isabel Smith (10) states that her “parents make [her] wash and put away the pans and dishes each day, it usually takes 40 minutes but in the more worse situations up to an hour and 30 minutes.” Smith relates that often “there’s no ‘pick one’ type of situation.”

Such behavior raises the question of how appropriate it is for parents to interrupt learning time in this way. Leaving computers idle is just another danger presented by online school, no matter the reason. After all, it would be ridiculous to expect students to clean their room in between periods of a normal school year- in much the same way as they would not expect students to spend in-person lunch breaks doing laundry. If pre-quarantine vacations were planned around school breaks, why should this year be treated without such consideration? 

It is important that parents view school as essential to their children’s academic, social, and emotional development, whether it is in-person or not. Losing class time is sure to impact academic performance, and the stress of catching up is likely to incite mental or emotional strain. Isabel Smith (10) also shares that “when I’m already in a great deal of stress due to homework, chores are the last thing I want to worry about.”

Indeed, the same University of Columbia survey also found that about “30% of teachers reported diminished student engagement, motivation, performance, attendance and follow-through during online learning. Furthermore, “another 72% expressed concern about the effect of school closings on students’ emotional and social development” (District Administration). It is obvious that the shift to distance learning came with a variety of new challenges; although our parents are not always a direct impact to these statistics, it is important to remember that their cooperation is just another factor to consider when dealing with the struggle that is online school.