I read a report last month in TIME magazine regarding how so many parents had abandoned their homeschooling efforts with their children due to a shut-down of schools that was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The headline of the report read: “I just can’t do this.”
The report revealed mounting frustration from families/parents of children across our country who have been cast into a sea of distance learning that they are not qualified or trained to deal with. The report reveals that amid the barrage of learning apps, video meet-ups and emailed assignments that pass as pandemic home school, some frustrated and exhausted parents had simply chosen to disconnect entirely for the rest of the academic school year. It goes on to report that others had crammed all their children’s school work into the weekend or had been taking days off from work to help their kids with a week’s worth of assignments in just one day.
One of the mothers who was interviewed for the story told Time magazine, “We tried to make it work for the first week. We put together a schedule, and what we found is that forcing a child who is that young into a fake teaching situation is really, really hard. I’d rather have him watch Godzilla movies and play in the yard and pretend to be a Jedi rather than figure out basic math.”
The report goes on to reveal that the stress of trying to teach is only compounded for families with multiple children in different grades, or when parents work long hours outside the home. In some cases, older siblings must watch younger ones during the day, leaving no time for school work.
For this column this week, I followed the struggles of a Yukon parent who told me the exact same story. She asked me not to reveal her name but told me she has been at her “wits-end” the past two months. This single-mom who has both kindergarten age and 5th grade age sons in the Yukon Public Schools told me she has to go to work to a stressful job and by the time she gets home in the evening it has been all she can do mentally, physically and spiritually to take the time to try and teach subjects she is not remotely trained to teach. She also told me through tears, that her oldest son, who has a slight learning disability, had bonded so well with his teacher and it seemed that in a matter of minutes all that progress he had made with that teacher was gone.
I was thinking about this situation and the learning deficit that has been created here in the Yukon Public Schools’ system by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our 30-something parents have revealed on FACEBOOK that their Yukon kids have fallen behind, especially in our lower income families. The TIME magazine report showed that in households, where the parents earn less than $50,000 annually, that 72% were at least somewhat concerned about their child falling behind academically, compared with 56% of parents in higher income households.
This situation is not the fault of any of our Yukon teachers, principals or administrators. It was cast upon them and has trickled down to the students. It all started that last day of school (Thursday) before spring break. Many of these kids just checked out. Their parents were suddenly required to purchase Chromebooks, update cable service and to try to figure out the 4-mat learning style of their children! The learning curves for parents who are not very good with technology has been frustrating, steep and imperfect, just like the parents interviewed in TIME magazine.
A video can’t look at your child’s face and see the confusion. A teacher can do that and most parents can’t.
Has this pandemic had an effect on our senior class? I have watched many Yukon senior classes graduate. In fact, I have watched 30 senior classes graduate and I hope to watch 30 more. We have never seen or experienced anything like this pandemic in our lifetimes. I believe our Yukon teachers and administration did the best job they could do trying to get our kids to meet their education requirements.
This senior class has witnessed so much. They came into the world during a time called 9/11 and they are graduating during a pandemic. They have watched the legalization of medical marijuana (and I am sure none of them smoke it.) They have watched their parents teach them how to hoard toilet paper and watched their parents confounded trying to teach them how to conjugate a sentence. They are a unique bunch.
I am going to track this senior classes PROGRESS as many of them begin college, the military and the workforce during the next few months. I still want to believe that these 18 and 19-year-old kids are our future and that they will do great things.
I hope to see the press releases from our colleges and universities, our military and our work force prove that our parents and teachers did a great job of showing these kids how to survive the year 2020.
Congratulations to the hard working parents and teachers of the Yukon High School graduating class of 2020.
Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?
Yukon Progress Publisher Randy K. Anderson can be reached at (405) 517-5168 or randyk. firstname.lastname@example.org