The classroom has moved to the home and helicopter parents have sharpened their blades.
Several schools are complaining that after months of online classes a large section of mostly younger parents are monitoring their children 24×7 and hardly giving them any time for themselves.
The results show the lack of imperfections.
These helicopter parents — who constantly hover around their children — want their children to answer all questions correctly, sit properly, maintain the class decorum while they themselves keep violating that decorum by constantly prompting the child or ensuring help that would make the worksheets perfect, said several teachers who take classes.
In Bengal, such parenting has been the norm for many years. Over-zealous, risk-averse parents have taken a toll on many children. Teachers say online classes have made matters worse.
Earlier, it was restricted to tallying classwork outside school or over the phone but the pandemic has given parents almost a “social sanction” to over-monitor.
A Bengali teacher in a city school was forced to tell a parent of a Class IV student whom she could constantly hear prompting, “Let me hear you answer, since you will not let your son do so”.
In another school, the nursery teacher asked parents not to prompt the child because that would stunt the child’s growth.
The overt presence of the parent is not restricted to classrooms but even when the students are asked to make videos for school assignments.
“This system of online classes does require the involvement of parents but some of them get too involved and in an effort to do things too perfectly... the spontaneity of a child is lost,” said Damayanti Mukherjee, the principal of Modern High School for Girls.
For any activity if a child has to speak extempore in class even that is allegedly “prepared and rehearsed”.
When children, especially the younger ones, would wriggle in their seats their parents would settle them into position, said teachers.
“As a teacher I take objection to the parent trying to ensure the child is answering all questions or sitting straight in class. That is for me to see as a teacher,” said Hilda Peacock, the director of Gems Akademia International School, who also takes classes.
The parents are not visible on screen but their presence in the room can be felt by most of the teachers. “Overbearing parents are not healthy for children and it is affecting their mental and psychological growth,” said La Martiniere for Girls principal Rupkatha Sarkar.
Counsellors who handle queries from many disturbed parents and children said the pandemic has given over-involved parents a sanction to hover around their child at all times.
“A lot of kids would resist this earlier but the pandemic has taken away the scope for that resistance. The pandemic has given these parents the opportunity to get over involved,” said psychotherapist Farishta Dastur Mukerji.
“This is not advisable because over involvement comes in the way of building confidence, a coping mechanism and the ability to learn and socialise,” she said.
Mukherjee said it was all right for children not to be “purposefully involved” all the time. “They need to have a free time and enjoy that with freedom and not a purpose.”