The first couple of weeks of virtual public education have gone pretty well. My daughter has successfully signed into classes, completed classwork, taken quizzes and has stayed on top of her studies.
She made a cozy office space in her room, where she sets up her school-issued laptop and accompanying notebooks and pens.
She does her homework and checks her grades and assignments online. She’s completely plugged into her studies — and that’s the problem. She is on the computer all the time.
One of the biggest consequences of pandemic-enforced online learning, to me, anyway, has been the high number of hours children spend staring at screens. Sitting in front of a computer all day perhaps isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a family, heaven knows that’s what I do all day to make a living, but finding the right ways to balance study, games, social media chatter and texting friends with some non-screen activities is tricky.
Back in the spring when this mess started, everybody went into online-schooling-DEFCON-3 mode. As many educators have opined, families weren’t doing true homeschooling or virtual education; we were doing emergency learning. But that was OK, because it was only for a couple of months and things would go back to normal in the fall, right?
Yet, here students are, many of them watching their teachers on computer screens for two, three or, as in my child’s case, up to five days a week. Like I said, this version of online learning has gone pretty well, so far. The classes have better structure, the schedule is more strict, and expectations of students are clearer. But it still requires a lot of screen time.