Do We Need Remote Learning For Pre-Schoolers During Lockdown?
Due to the lockdown, kids have started with their remote learning classes from the first week of April and one thing is clear, it is quite unpleasant to login to a Zoom class with dads hovering over the screen in their baniyaans. Or moms who make you stare up their noses while they figure out how to prop their device. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what an average Zoom class looks like for the first ten minutes. Mind you, it is not for students in senior grades these are sessions for preschoolers, on-demand by parents. But do kindergarten kids need to be burdened with lessons right now, when they are locked indoors? Why are parents pushing for more classes, more tutorials? Are we prepping our kids for IITs already?
- Schools are conducting online classes via apps like Zoom for kids.
- But do preschoolers really need Zoom classes?
- Are we prepping our kids for IIT entrance exams already?
- Can’t we allow little kids to have a three-month-long summer vacation just this once?
Do preschoolers need to be burdened with studies right now, when they are locked indoors? Why are parents pushing for more classes, more tutorials? Are we prepping our kids for IITs already?
Okay, first things first. One needs to applaud the teachers who are braving this unchartered territory. Many of them aren’t acquainted with tech like Zoom meetings or screen sharing and they had to upskill at a breakneck speed so that the school session sticks to the schedule. It is not easy to conduct multiple sessions every day and remind parents to rename their Zoom handles with their child’s name, so that the task of marking attendance gets a bit easier, day after day after day. Then there is the issue of internet connectivity. Many teachers have to repeat what they are saying multiple times because of voice break or lag, and that means it takes them 40 minutes to teach a lesson that can be covered in 25 minutes. Some peers forget that a Zoom class is not a WhatsApp video chat, where the entire family can make guest appearances, and they can go about their daily morning routine around the house. You can hear members demanding morning tea, grandparents munching on morning breakfast, and continuing our affinity for “free” stuff, siblings are also packed into the frame with some students so that they might as well learn.
Yes, there are many benefits of digital learning. Once the school reopens, our children won’t be burdened with unending homework and curriculum that’ll pass by them like a blizzard. Also, as a colleague pointed out, kids get to see their school friends and interact with their teachers, which perks them up. They can’t go to the park and meet up with other kids right now, so this is the only playtime our kids get. Another benefit is that parents and children can finally have a routine under the lockdown. When you have to sit down for a mathematics class at nine in the morning, you can’t be sleeping in late or dragging on the breakfast time into the early afternoon. This routine can be handy for working parents, and perhaps in the absence of caretakers, this is the reason why many parents are pushing for more classes and more homework. But they have to ask themselves, is that fair to their young children?
One needs to applaud the teachers who are braving this unchartered territory. Many of them aren’t acquainted with tech like Zoom meetings or screen sharing and they had to upskill at a breakneck speed so that the school session sticks to the schedule.
These are pre-school kids we are talking about, they shouldn’t have to pour over multiple pages of homework and assignments in the sweltering month of April. It is not Zoom meetings that one is averse to. Organising recreational classes where kids can interact with each other and have fun, in fact, would be a good idea. It is the sight of multiple tiny furrowed brows during Marathi classes that is disheartening and comes laden with guilt.
Just try and remember what your school life was like; we never had classes in April, until perhaps most of us were in higher secondary. Haven’t we spent all our primary school years enjoying a three-month-long summer holidays? Playing on your own or with visiting cousins, eating mangoes and idling around? Haven’t we turned out fine in life? These same kids have grown up and are now parents who are capable of causing a blood bath over one mark in unit tests. They have their children’s future planned to the tee.
Our education system still adheres to the outdated rote learning system that promotes cramming over gaining knowledge. So even outside of this lockdown, the school life that we are giving our kids should raise a few alarm bells. The fuss over Zoom classes that we are seeing today is merely a manifestation of the system that has been in place for decades.
We need to go easy on our little kids. These are strange times to live in. Neither we nor or our children know how to cope with the current situation. Wouldn’t it be better, to lessen the burden from the students’ shoulders right now, so that they can cope better?
The views expressed are the author’s own.