Usually, by this time of the year, most of us have fastidiously sorted how we would be spending the two months of summer break with kids and family. If you’re privileged enough, your travel plans would have been booked beforehand and for the remainder of it, the kids would’ve been enrolled for at least a few weeks of summer classes.
But hey, we are in 2020! Much to our wishes of deleting this year from the calendar and starting afresh, we still got to comprehend how to handle children at home for the summer without any summer programs. If most of this year doesn’t seem normal to you, then how else will you explain online summer classes?
I am not sure about everyone, but I speak for myself: Summer classes were not made for me to gloat about my child’s creative art and craft (if I have any more space left to store those). Or discovering a new language (which is forgotten by the time school opens). Or learning a new sport (which is invariably interrupted by me smacking more sunscreen lotion. Yes, North Indians are obsessed with being fair).
If most of this year doesn’t seem normal to you, then how else will you explain online summer classes? (Photo: Reuters)
Summer classes/schools were merely made for parents to keep their children busy, while they could carry on with their regular life, which doesn’t consist of a luxurious summer break. If you think deeply, what was the BIGGEST takeaway from the last couple of years of summer classes your children attended?
KEEPING THEM AWAY FROM HOME.
If that’s not your biggest takeaway, then you’re a perfect parent (OR you didn’t think deep enough).
Here we are, being bombarded with a gazillion summer classes for all age groups, except they all are online. Of course, that is the way forward and need of the hour, but the purpose of enrolling these kids is out of the window. They are going to be sitting in the house and attending these classes. RIGHT NEXT TO YOU. As they have been for the past two months of regular school.
I wouldn’t lie. When I saw the flyers of some of these classes, I was tempted. The thought of my four-year-old and two-and-half-year-old being laboriously occupied for a couple of hours every day was enough time to get my derailed life back on track. I did a few trial classes to zero in on the right one, and that’s when I lost the plot. That was adding another two hours of screentime to the already high number. I know we are supposed to surrender the overzealous parent by relaxing a few rules, considering we are in an unusual situation worldwide. There are many things not in our control, with kids audio-reading/viewing books online (as weird it may sound, it is a great invention), but if there are a few things left in my control (and trust me there are very few), then I want to utilise that option! And these summer classes, which earlier I was using as a tool to keep them away and busy, is not working out, then what is the reason to add those extra screen time to their routine?
Maybe your child isn’t getting exposed to a considerable amount of screentime and you feel it is entirely normal for them to keep learning through such an arrangement. I would agree in that case - provided you are getting your free time during these classes. If you are sitting with them or frantically arranging things as a prep up, is it indeed worth it?
Shopping for an Art and Craft class.
Recently, I received details about an art and craft class, which seemed interesting for my four-year-old boy. Upon inquiring further, I swiftly received a list of things to keep ready before the class. Irrespective of all of it being readily available and right around the corner, was it worth me dressing up in my corona gear of masks, gloves, and a sanitiser; while adhering to social distancing (which most people don’t understand)? Not to mention, boy is it hot!
It doesn’t end here. As per the truckload of WhatsApp messages received by my so-called well-wishers, I had to air it for 24-48 hours, finally ending this torturous experience by painstakingly disinfecting each of the items purchased. Phew!
If this doesn’t seem insurmountable or the classes you are enrolling your children in are not too overbearing, then there is a high probability it might be justified.
Not judging other parents' decisions, though I would recommend all parents to think through these points, before making their children join online summer classes during an epidemic:
1. Follow the simple rule of what is the “real purpose” of these classes and is it being fulfilled during such an exceptional time.
2. Take note of your child’s personality and observe their recent behaviour. Some children are extroverts and are genuinely missing socialising. Whereas others might already be overwhelmed with the current scenario.
3. Are you one of those parents who is constantly hovering around your children during online classes to keep a check on them or the quality of the class or teaching skills of the teacher? Because at this moment, the last thing we want is more mental stress!
4. Several underrated professionals are giving private lessons, not necessarily related to academics. A great time to hone a pending skill or hobby.
It's been three months we are in this lockdown. By now, the initial noise in most of our houses might have settled down along with the dust and we are strangely getting accustomed to this new lifestyle. If all is quiet in the jungle, then why poke the lion?
As for me, my kids are continuing their art and craft class by making tattoos on my hand.
(The author is on Instagram at @motherhood_therealstory)