Helicopter parents butt into zoom school

brother and sister dressed up

My son when he was in second grade. I think I remember my daughter’s bangs had something to do with gum and big brother.

Can you imagine how hard it would be to be a helicopter parent in today’s world? Imagine if your child was on zoom calls for school. I’d think most helicopter parents would be sitting right there with their child.

In an article I read from Good Housekeeping by Gina Rich, there were quite a few funny examples. The article is called Parents Who Butt In During Remote School Are Just Trying to Help — But They’re Doing the Opposite.

Here’s an excerpt:

Child development experts have already firmly established why helicopter parenting and lawnmower parenting — or swooping in to rescue our kids from every problem — is harmful. Overly involved parenting jeopardizes kids’ independence and resilience, not to mention parents’ sanity. Yet months into a pandemic that’s forcing physical classrooms to remain closed, the unescapable proximity has caused many parents to struggle. It can be hard to let children muddle through the challenges of virtual school without intervening.

Earlier this fall in Berkeley, California, Allison Landa went to check on her 5-year-old son, a transitional kindergartener who is learning remotely. When Landa saw her child wasn’t following the teacher’s instructions to draw dots on a page, she decided to jump in. “I took the crayon and helped him swirl it on the page. Then I drew a dot of my own. Then I quizzed him: What color was the dot? How big was it?”

Across the country in upstate New York, Emily Popek was helping her third grader, who was suddenly the host of her class Zoom meeting after a glitch kicked the teacher out. Looking at the screen, Popek saw her daughter’s classmates — and a lone parent whose voice sounded familiar.

I realized I’d been hearing that parent’s voice,” she says. “You can never see her kid — it’s just her.” During the first Zoom meeting of the school year, the same parent had joined the conversation and started asking the teacher questions. “The student wasn’t interacting with the teacher at all,” recalls Popek, a school communications professional. “It was all being mediated by the mom.” And Popek’s story is just one of many: Playgrounds across the country are filled with whispered complaints of parents who interject during lessons, prompt their kids to give correct answers or complain that their kids aren’t being called on enough.

To be fair to parents who are trying to work at home and have their kids succeed in school, this year has thrown them a curve ball. They are trying to do what’s best. Although sometimes it’s better to do less. Let your kids take over their education. They will gain so much more, even if they mess up.

I remember when my son was in second grade, I volunteered to be a classroom helper. My role was to sit at the back of the classroom and correct papers as they were turned in. The teacher was fabulous and she stood in the front of the classroom making a list of five or six assignments on the board and keeping the kids enthralled with an occasional cartwheel. She had me call kids individually to go over their assignments with them. She said it was so much better for them to get instant feedback and learn from their mistakes right away. That’s why she used parent helpers.

Anyway, I would get antsy watching my son not do anything but fiddle at his desk while other kids were hurrying through their list of assignments. I’d walk up to him and try to encourage him to get started. The teacher would admonish me and send me back to my desk. “Mom, leave him alone! He’s got this,” she say. Then when it was almost time for recess, my son would miraculously start his work and get done in time to go play. And if not, he’d take his work outside and finish it at a lunch table.

It was tough for me to watch him dawdle. But he lived through it and so did I.

brother and sister in winter wear

My kids all grown up in their winter wear at a PAC 12 Swimming Championships.

If you’re a parent with your kids learning online at home, what are your secrets to making it work? Do you find yourself wanting to jump in and help? Or, take over?

7 thoughts on “Helicopter parents butt into zoom school

  1. I used to be a helicopter parent. My son is 5 and is learning online. At 1st i was sitting in the same room with him but silently and just making sure he was paying attention. I’d notice other parents giving answers but I’d only help him if his name was called and he didn’t know then the answer. I then noticed that everytime his name was called, he would look at me expecting the answer, not even bothering to think and I’d get angry and tell him no you answer and then the teacher would give him the answer. I know purposely stay out of the room but keep the door open and keep my ear open so i know when it’s revision time and when it’s a new lesson. But i did notice that he tends to fidget more with me in the room, even if I’m silent, so I just check on him occasionally and keep reminding him to pay attention every once in a while but I don’t do any work for him.

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