This is, in my view, a fresh new version of Hell: parents are now faced with having to homeschool their kids until the pandemic abates enough for schools to reopen. Now I assume that for older kids, the primary challenge is sitting through hour-long classes and having to WhatsApp your teachers your homework, but for preschoolers — like The Toddler — it has meant Online Playgroup and, worse, Activities to Do with Your Parent at Home while She Desperately Tries to Finish Her Work and also Find Craft Supplies and Develop Some Form of Artistic Talent. WHAT even.
Preschoolers are notoriously squirmy. They do not sit in one place for long, they eat the craft supplies they’re supposed to paste, they paint on themselves and not on the paper; the opportunities for mayhem are virtually endless. It is, of course, how they learn and explore their environment. And it’s cute, of course. Sometimes.
The Toddler has just started pre-school, and he loves it. But most of the classes are online. The first we attended was sort of a hysterical comedy of errors: one child cried silently (he was on Mute) throughout the class, one child just gaped at the screen, one kid would intermittently jump raucously on his bed and then quickly return to the screen. You could see flashes of harried parents, nannies, WFH set-ups and – in our case at least – messy living rooms strewn with the debris of toddlerhood. The Toddler was admittedly well-behaved, except for when he suddenly got the urge to pee and started yanking down his pants on camera (fortunately managed to push the laptop away in time). Or when he dropped his building blocks in a streaming waterfall on to my employer-provided laptop. Anyway, songs were sung and flying kisses were given and it was a net success.
But The Activities. Now the semi-disclaimer is that I am NOT good with handwork or any sort of crafty, handicraft making things. And it seems neither is my son. Combine this combination of lack of skill and interest with paint and you have unqualified disasters. He has a ball, but the tiles have paint on them and the stains on my leg are colourful. The walls, too, suffer.
I suppose the conclusion is that we really don’t value schools or teachers enough. This stuff is HARD. It takes commitment, dedication and so much patience. And it never fails to amaze me how much teachers are putting into making this ghastly situation work for their students. While most of us WFH while in our PJs, checking mail occasionally while watching Netflix, these people are making lesson plans, recording lectures, grading papers and, of course, taking the time to sing songs on Zoom for unruly groups of 2-4 year-olds. As COVID has made clear, not all heroes wear capes 🙂