Child psychologist speaks out on schools

July 27, 2020

School personnel are working hard to put together the best possible structure for re- opening school in September. Under consideration are full weekday school attendence, full weekday internet learning at home, and a combination of these.

It is difficult to determine what is best for children, their families, and their teachers. Health and learning factors must be considered. Politics should have no part in this planning.

What is best for some families will not work well for other families.

In households with two parents, one of whom can stay home and do schoolwork with the children, the completely at- home plan might work fine.

 In single-parent households, in which the parent must work full time to provide basics like rent and food, what will happen to the children on non-school days? Will the working parent have to quit her/his job? If not, where will the children go on non-school weekdays? I would expect that licensed day care homes and centers would follow stringent safety precautions.

However, most parents in low-paying jobs will not be able to afford licensed day care, especially if they have more than one child.

These children would probably go to the home of a friend or neighbor.

Such homes may care for children from more than one household and are unlikely to require masks or distancing.

If a child catchs COVID-19 there, he/she might show no symptoms. However, such a child could infect another child or a teacher upon returning to school.

How does distance learning work in households without computers or internet access? How well can less-educated parents teach their children? 

The reality for some children is that full-time school attendence would be better for their health and for their learning than part-time or no school attendance.

For others, staying at home would probably be a better choice.

Jill Linden, PhD
retired child psychologist
  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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