This academic year has been unusual. First, a lot of the kids never realized when they finished their previous class and started the new one. By the time they got used to seeing their friends and teachers on the digital screens the faces changed and some left without saying goodbyes. Teachers, students and parents all were equally overwhelmed to get used to this transition. And just when they are getting used to playing adults having their Zoom schedules, comes the news that the Maharashtra government has said no online classes for kindergarten children to Class II. And that the government is looking at resuming schools from 15 July on a pilot basis. Are our preschoolers ready for this? Why are we throwing the kids in the path of the infection? Is anybody asking the parents what they want?

The Times Of India recently quoted a nationwide survey conducted by ParentCircle, a parenting platform in India, where 92 percent of the parents indicated that they are not willing to send their kids back to school after the lockdown open. The survey was answered by 1200 respondents across the country.

The Maharashtra government has said no online classes for kindergarten children to Class II. 

Have you thought how difficult it is for the kindergarten kids to process all these changes? Yes, online classes may be a poor cousin of regular classes but aren’t we all working hard to figure out what should be the new normal? The beginning of an academic year is synonymous with a new set of uniform, books, bags, shoes, water bottle, and new friends and teachers. But this year has been different. It has been particularly hard for working parents who had to work from home, work for home and then see to it that the children are also keeping up with the new schedules and learning. How do you demand concentration when playing with your toenail is certainly more interesting than learning number names? Kids and parents would all love to step out, but what is the cost we are ready to pay?

Historically, pandemics have always had a second wave and experts have indicated that a second wave of novel coronavirus infections cannot be ruled out either. With no vaccine in sight and no proper medicine to cure the infection are we not rushing to go back to normalcy?

It has been particularly hard for working parents who had to work from home, work for home and then see to it that the children are also keeping up with the new schedules and learning.

How many parents have been able to follow a zero-screen time policy during this lockdown? Remember we are living in a time of not only no school but no birthday parties, no playdates, no mall visits also. How are you to keep a child engaged? Even people I know who were following strict no-screen policy have engaged in some form of interactive online activity classes.

Yes, it is not fair to expect a preschooler to sit through three hours of digital learning, HRD ministry’s guidelines for limiting the time period of online classes to not more than 90 or 120 minutes is a welcome one. Most parents are happy to be volunteers, but to do away with online classes assumes that parents and by default the mother should continue with the learning of the child. Agreed that not all parents have a device at their disposal which the kid can use for their classes. There are many sides to this issue. But if not anything else an hour of online classes is giving the kids much needed social interaction, they laugh and play with their teachers. They get into the habit of getting ready for a class, sitting at one place and listening and following instructions and see some familiar faces which were part of their lives every day till the pandemic took over our lives. Is it worth nothing?

Image Credit: The Policy Times  

The views expressed are the author’s own.

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