This article was written by Jennifer Weiner, an education professor at the University of Connecticut. She explains why she refuses to follow the worksheets and detailed instructions for her twin sons. She recognizes that she is privileged as a person who has economic security, healthcare and is white. But there’s no reason to believe that children who lack her privileges need to be subjected to dull routine.

I read her article with pleasure, a welcome respite from the dire warnings issued by the test-and-punish crowd, by various bureaucrats, by think-tanks underwritten by the Gates Foundation, and many others who are certain that children’s brains will wither if they are not subjected daily to worksheets, test prep, and the holy tests themselves.

What happens if there is a respite in our academic Hunger Games? How will we know who will win and who will lose? This mother wants her children to have a timeout. I’m a grandmother now, but I suspect if my children were still in school, I would be in her camp. School is not a global race to the top. It should be a time to learn and explore and to find joy in reading, writing, thinking, and growing. What children miss most now is the personal contact with their teachers and the social interactions with other students. Jennifer Weiner reminds us that the NCLB pressure-cooker is unhealthy for all children, not just her own. When school resumes, we need to rethink the oppressive and pointless regime imposed on children by federal mandates and groupthink. It’s past time to rethink the status quo and place our faith in real education, students, and teachers, not tests and technology.

She writes:

Thanks to the coronavirus, my third-grade twins are home all day for the foreseeable future. I’m not going to recreate school for them.

Judge me all you want.

Out of respect for their amazing teachers, I’m making a good-faith effort to get my kids to do the work that’s been sent home, but that does not come anywhere close to filling what would have been a school day. After accomplishing the bare minimum, the agenda is to survive and watch too much TV. We are eating cookies and carbs and hoping for the best. We are loving one another and trying not to go insane.

When we got the call that our schools were closing, I knew I’d start seeing social media posts with home-schooling schedules and amazing and quite labor-intensive (for adults) activities for children.

My predictions were right: There have been color-coded home school charts with every minute scheduled, online resources on how to lead children through yoga and meditation, French lessons, and building their own rocket ships. Parents are sharing recipes with the right nutritional balance to enhance study productivity. Many have already begun to lament that they’re failing at meeting these new expectations.

I want to send a message to parents, and in particular to working moms, who will inevitably take on most of this home labor along with working remotely: This is going to be messy and that is OK.

I am not an expert in teaching third graders, particularly those like one of my sons, who has special needs and receives numerous services from talented professional educators every day to ensure he can thrive. We are so grateful to them and to our other son’s teachers and their patience, wisdom, and skill. We know that we don’t share these qualities.

I’m also not a parenting expert — a fact that would be clear if you met our wonderful but somewhat feral children. But I do know, from often painful firsthand experiences, that trying to turn mothering into a competitive sport is straight up unhealthy. It’s not a game I want to play.

My husband and I both work full time. Like so many others, we’re attempting to keep our family safe and fed during our state’s Covid-19 shutdown while simultaneously working to convince our boomer parents to practice social distancing, reaching out to other loved ones and friends and trying not to panic. Even when everything in our life is working the way it should, and with all the privileges we have — our solid health care, our economic stability, our whiteness — we often feel overwhelmed. So this pandemic felt like a bridge too far. We had to meet it head on: holding our breath, crossing our fingers. And not judging ourselves.

I’ve heard predictions from other parents about how this time without classroom instruction could lead to my kids (who, remember, are 8) falling behind so far that college will no longer be in their future. I hate to think of how parents who are preoccupied with worry about loss of income and how to provide food and shelter for their families feel.

They must be terrified their children will be unable to keep up as moms and dads with more flexibility, more security, or even full-time help talk about their aggressive at-home enrichment agendas for their little ones. Maybe this is the perfect time to call a timeout on the academic rat-race that was never healthy or fair in the first place.

Yes, we have embraced the need for some schedule, taking turns keeping an eye on the kids as they surf the internet to make sure whatever they are looking at is age-appropriate. (Of course, one of the boys wanted to learn about bombs.)

So far, we’ve seen them digging into mastodons, dwarf planets, the Mars rover and who made Legos and why. They’ve been reading a lot (mostly graphic novels and “Big Nate” books) because my kids were always avid readers and I don’t have to fight with them to do it. But there are no flash cards and no made-up projects to “enrich” them. We do not assign them essays or ensure their explorations are aligned with Common Core standards. There is no official “movement” or music time. We have not set up a makeshift classroom or given our family’s “school” a name.

We bake and have taste tests to see which cookie recipes are the best, because we like cookies and they are among the few things I know how to make. We walk and walk and walk. We eat together. We think about how lucky we are and try to help those who are more vulnerable and without our resources.

So far, the boys have played more video games and watched more television than they did during any given week before schools shut down. It keeps them busy while their dad and I try to finish our meetings before Zoom crashes.

We love each other, we yell, we apologize, we laugh, they punch each other, we yell some more, we make up. We live, we try to be compassionate and we hope this will all be a memory soon. And when it’s over, the schoolwork will be there.