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PARENTAL BURNOUT I SHALBHA SARDA Student Stress and the Online Classes

It has been almost four months since the coro- napoclapyse. Barely a week after the onset of the crisis I had shared a happy post on Instagram where both my children were sitting in front of a com- puter attending their online classes.

I had flaunted how using technology for my kids was much more than binge-watch lost in space on Netflix or play- ing Pub-G with their friends.

Iw unaware then was this online school model was here to stay for longer, at least for the next few months. Post the unceremonious sum- mer vacation I read a message from the school that other stu- dents could also enroll in the school from anywhere in the world.

Which meant that the schools weren’t to reopen physi- cally anytime soon. Moreover, parents were not mentally pre- pared to send their children to schools, which is fairly under- stood and absolutely necessary.

 Despite all the understanding for many women like myself, this wasn’t a piece of comforting news. Do I miss my routine of getting up early each morning, pack lunch for the children, dress them up, feed some cereal, and wave them byes?

 Hell yeah!. Those were the days when I al- most forgot about their existence for the most part of the day. It al- lowed me to have a peaceful work- life routine.

 Yes, the education of my chil- dren is on top of my priority list but in the current scenario, the schools fail to understand the situation they are setting off at home with their elaborate week- ly plans for classwork and home- work. My eighth-grader has a 5-hour session of class every day excluding Sunday.

 Although he is self-sufficient to fix the techni- cal issues of the class but a sig- nificant portion of his day post the online classes is spent com- pleting the sheets he has missed out because of the fast-paced lec- ture or the pile of homework as- signed to him for the day. Being a teenager, I have started to wor- ry about his wellbeing when most of his time is spent by him- self in a closed room in front of the laptop rather than being with the family.

 The largely propagated familial bliss during the lockdown seems to have a short life now. Ironically when he went to school I had more quality time with him rather than when he is at home all day. On the other hand, my 3rd grader has a 3.5-hour online class daily. His classes need far more active involvement from my side.

 Every other message on my WhatsApp contains detailed instructions from the class teacher regarding sheets that are to be printed, which I barely have time to read. In addition to that, there are experimental ac- tivities that require entailed gathering objects ranging from quilling strips to an aloe vera plant.

 Needless to say, I don’t have bandwidth left to continue to do so after 4 long months. But a missed online experiment of my 7 years old never gets off the chart without parent guilt. Even the incomplete class work sheets, the pending homework assign- ment make me feel short as a parent focused on the education of my children.

 I understand that the remote learning model is better than watching Netflix and playing games all day and by no means, I’m dismissive about the amount of hard work of the teachers who also had to adapt to a new model of teaching. Despite gov- ernment orders of a fee reduc- tion or waiver of school fees I am still paying the usual fee for both my children to support the teach- ers for the work they do.

 On the contrary because of the amount of parental involvement for an online class to function smooth- ly it has become increasingly dif- ficult to strike a balance between work from home, household chores, and an added burden from such classes. Which in turn has resulted in being less pro- ductive on my work front?

 Amidst the rock and a hard place in a grim economic climate rife with job losses, if a parent isn’t able to work well because of online classes and puts his job at stake is not a good news for the school as well (as we are still to pay the full fee).

 The school has to understand to avail the fees there has to be a way to have a balance where they can conduct such classes without creating both the parental burnout and student stress. Considering the time of the global crisis as a regular aca- demic year is unfair for every- one.

 Neither the students feel like sitting in front of the com- puter for the whole day nor the parents feel like clicking pic- tures of their assignment, and I am sure even the teachers are not interested in reviewing them back.

 A few missed chapters in the overall scenario are better than compromising the wellbe- ing of the children, parents, and even the teachers.

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