Coronavirus

Kids Missing School Because of Coronavirus? Don't Worry Too Much

Most will avoid significant academic losses in the long term.

|

Many people are finding it hard to parent in the age of COVID-19. They're trying to supervise their children and work from home at the same time, a combination made yet more difficult when they're being asked to ensure that the kids spend sufficient time and effort on their online classes.

Some frustrated parents are admitting defeat. One mom, archeologist Sarah Parcak, tweeted that she had informed her son's first-grade teacher they no longer had the time or patience to participate in a virtual classroom. "His happiness trumps crappy math worksheet management," she wrote.

Meanwhile, education officials are worried that the children of inattentive parents could be falling behind. Some school districts are discussing mandatory remedial summer school for all kids once the pandemic has passed. The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board endorsed such a measure, claiming that "there's no good argument against mandatory summer school. CPS and parents—and the Chicago Teachers Union—must do whatever it takes to get school kids back on track." The New York Times reports that education officials around the country have been considering "summer sessions, an early start in the fall, or perhaps having some or even all students repeat a grade once Americans are able to return to classrooms."

These are stressful times, but parents and teachers shouldn't be overly worried about students falling behind. Mental health and happiness should come first.

Indeed, there's a strong argument to be made for letting many kids simply enjoy this extended summer break.

"There will probably be some falling behind, but people are likely to catch up," says Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University. "People do get lost over the summer and then make it up." Studies show that kids typically lose some of their academic skills over long breaks: summer learning loss is a real thing. But studies also show that most students forget much of what they learn in school, period. "Many young people who learn the material forget it soon anyway," says Caplan. "The idea there's going to be some noticeable permanent deficit is weak."

Neal McCluskey, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, tells Reason that the extended break might leave some kids unprepared to pass their standardized tests in the short term but probably wouldn't do lasting damage to their brains.

"I don't think the time away from school will impact kids' intelligence," he says"There are real questions about how truly important a lot of material is—will it have a major impact on someone's life if they miss modern British poets?—but they will miss out."

According to McCluskey, younger kids are more at risk of falling behind than older kids, since the most valuable skills—reading and basic numeracy—are taught at an earlier age. "A considerable part of the problem is that our system has to largely batch-process kids based on their ages, which makes falling behind a major problem," says McCluskey.

And of course, students of all ages who rely on school for non-academic purposes, like supplemental nutrition or a respite from an abusive home life, will be poorly served by this unusually long period away from school.

But it would be shortsighted to pretend that every moment away from formal schoolwork is some missed opportunity for child enrichment. Reason's Lenore Skenazy notes in The Washington Post that unstructured free time can make room for mental and emotional growth:

Though not every youngster will become an Einstein while quarantining, many seem to be turning into the kids they would have been if they'd grown up a generation or two earlier, with more time to discover their real interests and hobbies (remember those days?), before childhood got so structured and busy.

What I mean is: It's all okay. Our kids are not going to seed even if they are sleeping, gaming and bingeing on YouTube. In fact, they're growing, simply because kids are always growing and learning from everything—houses of cards, Nerf guns, Barbies, baths, videos, but most of all from that vital resource more rare and precious than toilet paper: free time.

My advice for would-be coronavirus helicopters? Think of the quarantine as an AP class in chilling. You can help your kids ace it by stepping back.

Many stressed-out parents would undoubtedly improve their own mental health if they took Skenazy's advice.

Similarly, education officials should explore non-coercive options, such as supplemental tutoring for those who think they need it. Forcing every kid to repeat the grade or attend summer school would be a punishment that most students did nothing to deserve.

NEXT: COVID-19 and Its Accompanying Restrictions Continue to Harm World Food Supply

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How is this supposed to be heartening?

    “Our kids weren’t learning shit to start with, so it really doesn’t matter if they sit home for a few months, twiddling their thumbs.”

    1. Any time away from the government propaganda machine is likely a big plus for most kids. And parents might realize how little they need school – except as a babysitting service.

    2. Hannah R Reed want to have some fun and to play dirtу ==>> Details Here

  2. Some school districts are discussing mandatory remedial summer school for all kids once the pandemic has passed.

    When is that going to be? Summer 2021???

    Here in Pennsylvania I’m hearing teachers saying they’re not allowed to issue new course material or any homework during remote classrooms, nor are they grading any work.

  3. …claiming that “there’s no good argument against mandatory summer school.

    Teachers unions, how the mighty have fallen.

    1. Are you daft? They will be getting overtime pay. In reality they should only be paid for any time in excess of that they used for the virusvacation.

  4. The big secret of education, is that 90% of educating kids is just trying to fill time until their old enough to understand and care what you want to teach them.

  5. In too many school districts, the only thing students are missing because of school closures is hands-on sex ed from teachers!

    1. My school didn’t have that. Damn crappy public schools.

      1. In retrospect, the only hot teachers I recall were the French teacher and one of the history teachers. I’m not saying they’d have done anything with any of the students, because that would have been wrong. But as for, say, the English teachers, I don’t think Van Halen would have done a song about *them.*

  6. “There are real questions about how truly important a lot of material is—will it have a major impact on someone’s life if they miss modern British poets?”

    Obviously the solution is to have the government determine what material is *essential*.

  7. perhaps having some or even all students repeat a grade once Americans are able to return to classrooms

    So every student is going to be left back, except for garbage schools where they have social promotion.

  8. One mom, archeologist Sarah Parcak, tweeted that she had informed her son’s first-grade teacher they no longer had the time or patience to participate in a virtual classroom.

    Now, off to find the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

    1. Is that a euphemism for smoking meth?

    2. She also wrote:

      “{Her son’s} happiness trumps crappy math worksheet management,”’

      Golly! Do you think that maybe this experience will cause her to begin to question the educational system that created the “crappy math worksheet management” in the first place?

  9. the extended break might leave some kids unprepared to pass their standardized tests in the short term

    Standardized tests are the true victims of coronavirus.

  10. Nothing heartens marginalized anti-government cranks like a one-sided analysis from the education-disdaining side of the aisle.

    1. Lighten up.

      At least now that the children are home, you don’t have to worry about staying more than 500 feet away from schools. The restaurant is practically brining the food to your doorstep, you fucking hick lib degenerated piece of shit.

    2. Exactly. I mean, who’s going to indoctrinate the next generation of wanna-be socialists and SJWs?

    3. “Nothing heartens marginalized anti-government cranks like a one-sided analysis from the education-disdaining side of the aisle.”

      Nothing pleases asshole bigots as much as making lame, unsupported claims, right, asshole bigot?

  11. Yeah, our elementary Ed has sooooooo much to be proud of:

    2020 First Quarter Rankings

    1. Finland
    2 Denmark
    3. South Korea
    4. Hong Kong
    5. Norway
    6. Slovenia
    7. Israel
    8. Sweden
    9. United Kingdom
    10. Poland
    11. Singapore
    12. Japan
    13. Ireland
    14. Taiwan
    15. Kazakhstan
    16. Estonia
    17 Hungary
    18 Russia
    19. Belgium
    20. United States

    https://worldtop20.org/worldbesteducationsystem

    1. Adjust that list by race/ ethnicity and get back to us.

    2. You should really vett the source before you make an ass of yourself:

      “The poll’s statistical data is compiled from 6 international organizations – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council (UNESOC), The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Study (PIRLS). Then send to each countries Ministry of Education Department to assure the data is accurate.”

      Before you support such claims, please tell us why we should give a shit about any one of those sources.

  12. “Indeed, there’s a strong argument to be made for letting many kids simply enjoy this extended summer break.

    This is no ordinary “summer break”. Our 6 yo was so excited to pass his pre-beginner swimming test in early March and starting the next level- now, that, plus his soccer, karate, Hindi Class, and others are indefinitely cratered. Plus not seeing his friends. Or go to the library. Or the playground.

    1. Yeah. This isn’t a summer break by my definition. Spring break wasn’t, either.

  13. “Meanwhile, education officials are worried that the children of inattentive parents could be falling behind.”

    Then maybe they shouldn’t have closed the schools in the first fucking place.

    They made a mess and now they want to blame anyone other than the man/woman in the mirror.

    1. they should have closed the schools for the “privileged” children only. isn’t kneecapping those with an ‘advantage’ how these people like to operate anyways?

  14. Kids will lose 1 to 5 points of IQ for every year of school they miss:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29911926

    If anyone thinks this won’t be seriously detrimental to every child is in serious need of some facts.

    My kids to go to a private school in our area. Despite the fact that they have the virtual classroom thing dialed in and despite the fact that we have the time to make sure the kids get every lesson done, it is substandard to what we have been paying for. If your kids are young they can’t self learn. As parents we have to pretty much devote 100% attention to each lesson. I’m fortunate I have set my own work schedule and work from home. My wife does not currently work. I expect my children will be the least impacted academically but from what I gather most families are just screwed. As far as I know, public school teachers are still getting paid and private citizens are still expected to pay state and local taxes. Nice system.

  15. Whether the kids are harmed by missing school kind of depends on what kind of school they’re missing, doesn’t it?

    Suppose, hypothetically speaking, that their school is a violence-plagued shithole where the teachers have stopped giving a damn, Hypothetically. The kids wouldn’t be missing much.

    But if their school is into educating children, and has committed and intelligent teachers and a good curriculum and high standards, then maybe the kids would miss out if they had to stay home.

    1. Given the first, the loss is minimal, maybe nothing. Perhaps, if the parents are interested, there might be a gain.

      The second again depends on parental involvement. Dunno about others, but I could read before K, and if I’d missed 3 months of grammar school, arithmetic might have been a loss, maybe. And that was before the ‘net, in case that isn’t obvious.

  16. Kids are resilient, not the snowflakes we have taught them to be in our victim society. Kids have survived child labor, continual wars and other worse pandemics. Luckily this one has left the children pretty much alone and has been a curse to mostly adults. I don’t think missing a few weeks of school will harm the kids, unless parents put that idea in their heads. And those college kids cheering colleges stopping? They will soon learn the cost of that in an extra semester to pay for, I don’t think there will be cheering then. Life sometimes teaches us hard lessons.

  17. Hello from Phoenix
    I am a painting teacher in elementary grades and it’s clear that we are quarantined now. I understand the seriousness of the situation and try not to leave home for no reason. It’s good that working as an academic writer on the Paperell (https://paperell.com/) not only helps me not lose my mind, but also provides myself normally in this difficult time. The main thing is to panic less, treat hands and products. Everything will be fine.

  18. aye, i was never much worried about this. Of course its easier because my kids are younger, but as an adult i recognize the vast majority of crap they spent teaching me for 12 years is pretty worthless.

    We make my daughter (6) keep up on her reading and arithmetic, but thats about it.

  19. I don’t think the schools ever taught my kids how to read or count. Maybe write. I’m a slacker with fine motor skills and writing.

  20. My kids are missing school so much. They get bored of home already. The best way is online education and preparation. Today we learn https://topadmissionessay.com/blog/how-to-write-a-grad-school-resume how to write a resume for grad school!

  21. Public schools are a bad idea. Mr Jones should not be forced to pay for Mr Smith’s children to go to school.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.