Parenting Your Children Doing Zoom School

The good news is that after a never-ending six months of school closure, many schools have opened this week. If you are lucky enough to live in a state that has on-site learning, I wish you and your children a healthy, successful school year! If you, like my family, live in a state that is doing only distant learning, using the computer, this blog is for you.

There are not enough studies done to understand how elementary school-aged children do in online learning for hours a day. However, in talking to other parents, it is clear that online learning is not good for many children. Parents need to know their children, observe their children, and make sure the child is thriving in this new reality.

Here are things that my wife and I have learned:

  1. Our 7-year-old daughter does not want the video on so that all the children can see her. She sensed an invasion of privacy that we are happy to encourage. Therefore, we asked the teacher to allow her to close the video. It is important to note that teachers can NOT force children to turn on their video.
  2. Teachers are facing incredible discipline challenges. The teacher spends a lot of time telling children “to keep their eyes on the screen”. In a real classroom, the child who is not paying attention gets disciplined, but online it sounds like she is telling everyone to literally keep their eyes on the screen. For hours at a time! This is dangerous for children. Computer vision syndrome is real. Some of the symptoms are tired eyes, dry eyes, headache, and fatigue. Other non-visual symptoms of computer vision syndrome include the neck, back, and shoulder pain. The first full day of online learning, our daughter suffered terribly. We are now encouraging her to look away and take breaks.
  3. Educational psychologists are unsure about how many children are able to learn online. Just like a typical classroom setting: Sitting at a desk and looking up at a board is not good for some children, so too learning from a computer is not good for every child. Pay attention and see if your child can pay attention!
  4. If your school district and/or teacher require your child to wear a mask while participating in a zoom class, insist on the removal of the mask! This makes zero sense and should not be tolerated. Remember know your child! If your child has been told to wear the mask at all times, he/she may think it’s forbidden to remove the mask when participating in a zoom class. This may sound silly to adults, but some children think very literally and want to do what is “right”.
  5. Socialization is more important than ever! We are arranging play dates and meeting others at parks, etc.
  6. Outdoor time is more important than ever! For years we have been discouraging screen time, only to be told that now our children have to be on the screen for up to 6 hours/day! My concern for what this is doing our children, has me taking them out as much as possible.

I wish us all a successful school year. May the fear of this virus end soon.  May we be allowed to get our children away from the screen and back to the classroom.

About the Author
Elkana is an entrepreneur and business manager with a deep passion for education. Since 2007, Elkana has been in the field of experiential education and social entrepreneurship, focusing on community building, social awareness, humanities, and Jewish identity. Elkana currently resides in Rockville, MD, together with his wife and two daughters.
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