Member question:

How much “academic” work do I really need to be doing with my 5 year old right now? She was in pre-K until mid March and should be going to K in the fall. She was learning to write her letters and numbers, practicing identifying words, etc. I am working full time from home now with both my kids with me (the older is in 2nd grade so has some formal distance learning), and am trying to do some activities with the little one. She is mostly into crafts and going outside. But we’ve not kept up on writing and such. Should I just let that go for now and assume that she’ll catch up whenever she gets back to school?


Rachel’s response:

So I’m answering this from the perspective of a psychologist (not a teacher), but I know I’ve also heard this message from some educators as well, especially pre-K / preschool educators.

Right now, the most important thing in getting through this unprecedented, potentially stressful situation is taking care of ourselves and our children. This is a short-term situation that will end, but we don’t want it to have a long-term negative impact.

That said, I think you probably need to do very little “academic” work. If you do do any, it should be more hands-on and fun rather than stressful.

Here are a few things to consider:
1.) You’re not necessarily going to be able to teach consistently with how teachers (who are TRAINED how to teach) will teach her.
2.) At this age, learning should not be stressful for her. (And if it’s stressful for you, it will be for her.) You don’t want her to start to have a negative association with learning at such a young age.
3.) Kids can’t learn when they’re stressed. (Again, if it’s stressful for you, it will be for her.) Learning requires access to the prefrontal cortex, and stress blocks that part of the brain.
4.) For better or worse, teachers are aware that when kids do get back to school, their level of “learning” during this time will vary greatly. They are professionals and, I’m sure, will receive even more training for handling this. (Side note: I think teachers are asked to be — and often act — super-human and I think this should be one of the highest-paid jobs in the world!)

I hope that helps. 


Member response:

That’s very reassuring.