Homeschooling     Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12     Education Guide    

“Cheat Days” may help remote learners and parents

In pandemic times, maybe some rules are made to be broken

In pandemic times, maybe some rules are made to be broken

A so-called cheat day i.e. a day off from remote learning, helps a beleaguered dad help his kids meet expectations.

We’ve all heard of diets in which the dieter gets a “cheat day.”  You abstain from wheat and dairy Monday through Saturday, but Sunday you can eat all the cheese, ice cream, and pasta you desire. For just that day. The notion, of course, is that the promise of what you’ve forbidden yourself helps you stay focused on your goal, and even adds an element of mildly wicked fun.

Writer, dad, and current reluctant homeschooler Clint Edwards  entertainingly applies this to remote learning/homeschooling. Like many parents forced into this new, evolving, and innately stressful paradigm, last spring, when shutdown commenced, he began overseeing the remote learning of two of his three kids – aged 11 and 13. Fortunately for all, he is able to work from home throughout (albeit at reduced output), so unlike some parents who must report to a jobsite, this was an option available to his family.

Edwards cites his kids’ procrastination and heightened emotions as being major problems, as well as his own frayed nerves, tendency toward anger, and exhaustion after having been at this for months, with no discernable end in sight. In a moment of desperation, his daughter asks if they can “just have toast and watch SpongeBob.” After initially saying no, he decides to give a three-day weekend a try.

That Friday, they had “Friday Fun.” “We set up camp in the living room,” he writes. “We selected a collection of streaming shows and movies. Some of them were educational, like The Magic School Bus and National Geographic. And some were just for kicks, like Dennis The Menace, Infinity War, and yes, SpongeBob was invited to the party. We ate toast, and we ate graham crackers, and we broke a hard family rule by having juice boxes and popsicles in the living room.”

According to Edwards, not only were his kids much happier that evening, when they awoke the following Monday, they had renewed energy and enthusiasm for the week ahead.

Because of its negative connotations, perhaps the term “cheat day” isn’t the best way to describe modifying the remote learning schedule. But if it works to make the whole thing more effective and smoother, then… whatever works.

More Homeschooling

  • Get physical while remote learning

    How do we teach kids to deal with the world in real time not on screens?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of activity a day, but Dr. Cicely White, chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente in Spokane, WA, says that hour of time need not happen all at once. read more »


    Orange Environment, Inc., Orange County’s longstanding environmental watchdog, will host an online public climate education event on Sunday, October 11th from 3 to 4 p.m. featuring Harriet Shugarman, author of the recently released How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change. read more »
  • Make remote learning easier

    5 suggested strategies for helping your child learn online

    Now that we are into the 2020-21 school year, one thing is clear: remote learning is the new normal for the foreseeable future. We all want what’s best for our kids. We have included four tips for how to improve their workspaces for the best possible remote learning. read more »
  • More than one way to homeschool

    An overview of varying homeschooling options

    Once an outlier educational method, homeschooling has come a long way, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Homeschooling is not just about teaching kids at home, it is a wrapped up in a philosophy of education. read more »
  • Combining homeschooling with housework

    “Hacks” perfect for pandemic parenting

    When Sarah Robsdottir reluctantly joined the world of homeschooling a decade ago, she devised some novel teaching methods you can try. read more »
  • Playground social network on hold

    How will kids learn about new toys and games without playgrounds – the first social networks?

    With many playgrounds shut down due to Covid-19, children have lost an essential aspect of their social lives – a place to share. Toymakers are worried. read more »
  • Fun with cardboard

    Forget the expensive toys. Cardboard has so many possibilities

    Remember when your baby was more interested in the boxes than in the gifts they contained? You can still make use of cardboard boxes for all kinds of play. read more »
  • Get wifi all over the house

    How to extend your signal for remote learning or homeschooling

    Dropped calls or garbled voices make online video calls frustrating for at-home workers and students alike. Four tips on how to improve your signal to accommodate the whole family. read more »
  • How to help kids slow down and tune in

    Mindfulness helps with mental focus

    Even adults who recognize the value of mindfulness have trouble slowing down. It's often harder for kids, but parents can teach them this valuable skill. read more »
  • Movement breaks for remote learning

    Kids too restless to focus. Offer these activities to reboot

    No one can stare at a screen for long without needing to move around. Here are ways to refresh your child's attention if computer-based schoolwork is getting them down. read more »