Read: “Home with Kids? It’s Ok to Do Nothing,” by Dr. Nermeen Dashoush

Dr. Nermeen Dashoush, BU Wheelock Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, published the following article on At BU Wheelock, her research has been primarily focused on establishing professional communities of practices and increasing teacher efficacy. Dr. Dashoush teaches the early childhood science methods course, the assessment course and supervises student practicums. She is also Chief Curriculum Officer at MarcoPolo Learning. 

Home with Kids? It’s Ok to Do Nothing

I don’t know who needs to read this (maybe just me), but if you are dealing with school closures due to COVID-19 and trying to figure out what to do with your children, it is absolutely acceptable to do nothing. I write this as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Boston University, a digital learning curriculum developer, and a mother of two young children who are pacing around our home right now as I write this. I applaud the schools’ decisions to close and the families doing their best to educate their children at home. My inbox and text messages have been flooded with questions from parents asking for online tools and home activities. My newsfeed is full of parents sharing their schedules and activities they are doing at home. All of those activities are just fine, but sometimes nothing is just fine, too. Here is why.

It’s Good for Them

Planning nothing might lead to boredom. Boredom is healthy, and we all experience it, and we have to let children experience it. Our children can not constantly rely on us to entertain them and to plan activities for them. When they are bored, something beautiful happens… eventually. Boredom leads them to look for things to do, things that they might not have considered before, and allows them to find things that interest them. Also, it teaches them to be more realistic about life. Life will not be a series of activities, playdates, lessons, and constant entertainment. Boredom is not bad; it’s just a normal transitional phase that can foster creativity and resourcefulness. Let your kids experience it.

You Have to Work

Some of us have the privilege of working from home during this time. For many, that means the work doesn’t change, but the location does. So basically, now you have two jobs. I used to feel guilty about working when I had not planned an activity for my children. Mainly because I thought that working meant that I was not taking care of my children; however, it is quite the opposite. As long as your child is safe and supervised in some way, then working is taking care of them. Your job, which you might be trying to do now as you make sandwiches and design spelling activities, is necessary for you and your family. It is not possible to directly engage all day while doing your work.

You are not a Teacher, and this is not Homeschool!

Let’s also not forget you might not be a qualified teacher who studied curriculum, instruction, and child development. Homeschooling also takes proper set up, research about curriculum and preparation. Do your best during these times, but be realistic about your ability to suddenly be a parent and a teacher.

Once again, I appreciate all of the effort parents are putting in during this time. I am in no way telling parents to stop doing all of these wonderful things. I am just saying doing nothing here and there is also an option. Safety is a priority above all at this time, and no matter what you do (or don’t do!), missing weeks of school will not make or break your child’s academic trajectory in the long run. So take this opportunity and try doing…nothing.