Rocket Science: Indian American Parents Struggle to Figure Out How to School Their Kids

Rocket Science: Indian American Parents Struggle to Figure Out How to School Their Kids

By Anu Ghosh

To go virtual or not, that is the question plaguing school districts across the 50 states. With teachers’ unions, board of education officials, along with scientists, government officials, parents and the White House on opposite sides of the fence, this has been a hotly debated issue across the country. 

A recent poll by the Washington Post found that 39 percent of parents polled preferred going all online, while only 16 percent preferred an all in-person, face-to-face school year. Forty-four percent preferred the hybrid model — a mix of online and in person instruction.

The mixed feelings reflect widespread anxiety among parents that there is no national consensus on how to balance the risks of the virus against the academic, social and economic impacts of keeping schools closed and the burden on working parents to ensure they meet the educational demands of their child’s curriculum and the demands of their professional life.

Home Schooling

Atlanta residentAsha Jahagirdar, an IT consultant and mother of two — Aarav (9) and Anvika (4) — is not on board with sending her kids to school. “We are not comfortable with sending our kids to school yet. My son’s school has gone 100 percent virtual, but my daughter’s Montessori, is part virtual and part face-to-face. So, we have decided to home school her,” she says, adding with a sigh, “I am trying to find interesting activities for her to do every day to keep her engaged and learning. But it is hard.”

To keep her very active daughter engaged, Jahagirdar has played hours of board games — carrom, Taboo and the age-old favorite, Ludo. “We have done hours of origami and coloring along with outdoor activities like biking, basketball, roller blading and table tennis. But with trying to keep up with schoolwork, with our busy work schedule, it’s going to be hard.”

Both Jahagirdar and her husband Deepak, also in IT, are currently working from home. 

Whatever side of the debate you fall on, many parents have realized an agonizing truth: if school happens in person, it might not feel safe. And if it happens remotely, it will be inadequate, isolating and unable to provide the childcare many working parents need.

Amisha Mistry, a Montessori teacher and a mom has a unique perspective. “As a teacher, I prefer being in school with my children, but as a mom, I want school to be virtual.”

As to why the difference of opinion, Mistry explains, “For a teacher, teaching virtually is mentally challenging, especially since I teach young kids. Young children need social interaction and need to experience the variety of teaching materials in the classroom. Also, their attention span for being on a screen on Zoom calls is limited. Also, little children are not used to operating laptops and computers, so have to depend on their parents. Working parents have to be available for their child when we teach virtually. That can be difficult for many parents. These children need us (teachers). I will have my mask and face shield on, ready to greet my students on Monday.”

However, she does agree that given the rise in COVID cases recently, virtual learning is a safe option. Mistry teaches at Crabapple Montessori School in Georgia. With a limited class size, they will open their doors to learning on Aug. 10.

ishal Venkatram, in management, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is father to two, Veda (8) and Varun (3). He and his wife, Vidya, prefer virtual learning at this time. “We even unenrolled our younger child from the Montessori that he was in and are going to home school him till the situation improves.” Not regretting his decision, Venkatram adds, “My son would have thrived in the primary classroom he was going into. And my very social daughter will miss the social interactions, but this is best for now.” 

Vinod adds, “Education will surely be impacted, but it’s only for one year so it’s not a big deal. They will get to learn things that cannot be taught at school.”

Read the rest @


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *