Abnormal circumstances have called for education institutions from elementary through high school levels to close down for a month or more. The situation, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, cannot be helped.
I have been baffled, however, at media coverage of scholars and parents grumbling about the inconveniences caused by the school closures. There were many complaints, such as that children would fall behind in their studies, lunches would need to be prepared at home because school lunches won’t be served, and daily schedules would become irregular.
But is all of this really true? I can hardly believe so. Japan is fortunate to have so many smart, hardworking moms and dads out there with so much to offer.
It is a golden opportunity if children are home with free time on their hands. Wouldn’t it be great for dads and moms to teach their children all kinds of things themselves?
For instance, spend time with your children teaching them to write. “Oh, the character stroke order isn’t right. Here, let me show you….” Or, work on solving quadratic equations with them, letting them know, “Hmm, I also struggled with this when I was your age.”
Even without going to school, the children can have great teachers at home. They will be learning and will look up to their parents with a newfound respect, while parents will have successfully reasserted their authority. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along every day.
If you think about it, dads and moms are their children’s senior schoolmates. It wasn’t so long ago that parents were in school, studying hard themselves. While there is a bit of an age gap, parents really are just their children’s “upperclassmen.”
How difficult can it be to help your junior classmates with their studies?
Don’t fall into the modern trap of “school dependence” by claiming, “I don’t remember how….” You shouldn't invoke your own educational deficiencies and expect the schools to take over your child’s education. You’ll loose an invaluable opportunity.
Instead of watching TV, why not spend about an hour or so a day helping the children you love with their studies? There is also time on the weekends. Now, due to the government’s work-style reform initiative, there’s a reduction in overtime work. And with the coronavirus mayhem, it is likely that many dads and moms are staying put at home, so more parents will have this unprecedented opportunity to participate in their children’s education.
The advent of no school lunches can give moms a perfect opportunity to shine, showing off their cooking skills, and it’s great to have delicious lunches together. But even if your work is crazy, don’t you at least have the time and good sense to prepare lunch boxes for your children? Plus, with your children at home, why not take this chance to teach them to help out with easy chores around the house?
It’s not often that couples, parents and children, and siblings, have such an opportunity to cooperate with one another in their everyday lives.
According to experts, “having conversations in close proximity, with numerous people, in enclosed spaces” are dangerous conditions that could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus. Ironically, a family home meets all three conditions, but it is not the only way to look at it. The risk is also an opportunity.
(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)
Author: Hidetoshi Kato,
Hidetoshi Kato is a sociologist and author, and a member of The Seiron (Sankei Shimbun).