The Screen-Free Quarantine – Days 18-20
The weekend! Which didn’t really mean all that much except that we didn’t do any schoolwork.
On Friday, I received more email from Jacob’s teachers with assignments for him. Which felt helpful at first. But it added more additional work for me to figure out how to print them, add them to the work I already gave him and then get them scanned and emailed back to the teachers. I wish I could adequately express into words how busy each day is. I don’t think most people live with young children without using screens like we do. There is no television. There is no video gaming system to keep them occupied. There is us, their parents, their sister, and a backyard full of trees and grass. They do very well at keeping themselves busy, but they need quite a bit of interaction from us. And we do not get to sit and watch TV or read books and relax. Any down time is spent having fun with them. That is what they wait for all day long.
So adding more work to my already planned curriculum was difficult, but initially, I was happy to do it.
Sunday, I received an email from Daniel’s teacher. She was upset because the administration apparently criticized her because I said she was not communicative. When I reached out to her and told her that we didn’t have an adequate internet connection, I thought she would give us assignments like Jacob’s teachers did. But she just suggested what to do when I do get access. And both schools solutions to our problems are to send us a hot spot so we can access the lessons.
This all feels wrong to me. While I do love the school system here, and have had nothing but great experiences, trying to gain access to e-learning so my kids can be glued to a computer for 4+ hours a day seems like a lie to me. It seems like I would be going against everything I believe in and everything we as a family work so hard to fight against.
Four hours a day of screen exposure is BAD for their brains. If want proof, pick up Reset Your Child’s Brain by Dr. Victoria Dunckley. It is full of references that will frighten you, anger you and motivate you to make similar changes.
What this book does NOT do is give parents an excuse to throw away the school books and take a vacation with their kids. What we are doing is difficult, and time-consuming, and I don’t have much free time beyond school work, meal prep, school planning and the like. But this is my choice. My kids are my investment and my offering to this world, and I want to give the world something special, something great. And I think my kids will be that, for sure.
All these thoughts were brewing in my head this weekend and when Sunday came around, I had to decide what to plan for the week. Do I open the books that I’ve been working in, or wait for the teachers to send work on Monday morning? Will I get work Monday morning? Will they be willing to continue sending work, or is this something they are doing only until the connection issue is solved?
Part of me is angry that as a parent, I don’t get a choice as to HOW my children learn.
And then I realized I do get a choice. They are my kids, and I can choose how they are educated.
I called the boys’ father in Missouri and explained my concerns. He has a five-year-old up there with him who is also struggling with a bad connection and frustration over how to do the online lessons. Our call was dropped three times due to our combined connection problems.
But ultimately, he said, “I trust you, do what you need to do.”
And so, here I am. I don’t know exactly what path I am going to take with the school. But I am going to tell them that I will NOT be doing e-learning. I will not be logging my children into Canvas. I will not be doing assignments on the computer. I will not be printing and scanning what they send.
I will be teaching my children at home, with a curriculum designed to match what the school is teaching them — so that when they return to school in the fall (God willing) they will be prepared, and perhaps ahead — not behind.
When I receive the hotspot that the school has sent out to me (if I receive it), I will send it back, because I do not need it. I don’t need more internet in my life, I need less.
After the decision was made, I felt so much better. I planned out the entire week of curriculum for both boys and was actually excited about what they are going to learn. Yes, it is work for me, but this is a limited-time opportunity that I will never get back. Two months (or so) to spend with my children. One on one time to learn how they think, teach them the important things in life and mold their brains and their futures so that they grow into the men I hope and pray they will be.
Teachers are amazing people, and I wish that THEY were able to educate my kids. But the internet will not be my kid’s teacher.
And as a treat, I will share with you what my kids were doing (under Mike’s supervision) while I was working all of this out.