Dear Miriam | School or Inauguration?

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Dear Miriam,

My daughter is attending her elementary school as a hybrid program. Her days are Monday/Wednesday. This Monday there is no school in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. On Wednesday, her teacher has shared that they will not be watching the inauguration in order to do as much instruction as possible in the two school days they have in person, and so that her cohort doesn’t get behind the Tuesday/Thursday group.

I’m considering keeping her home on Wednesday to watch this historic moment with me instead. What do you think?


Missing School for Madam VP

Dear Missing,

This is indeed a historic week in the midst of a historic year, etc etc. Wednesday’s important; I totally get it. But for kids who have been through so much disruption over the past 10 months, don’t underestimate the importance of routine, either, or the importance of control over their own time.

You don’t say how old your daughter is, and I’m not sure from your question whether the interest in Inauguration watching is coming from you or from her. If she is begging you to stay home to watch, then you should take her request seriously and find a way to make the experience positive, celebratory and educational for her. This is a consequential moment for our country, and if she wants to watch it live, missing school to do so seems reasonable.

However, if you are the one driving this plan, or your daughter only wants to stay home either to please you or because she’s looking for an out from attending school, then you should actually send her. Her teacher is right that their time together is limited, and hybrid schedules are incredibly tough to manage on all fronts. Even though the inauguration is a historical moment, it’s tricky to try to get a whole class to pay attention to something ultimately not geared toward kids, especially when they may still be getting used to being in the classroom again.

You don’t have to watch it live to watch it together with your daughter. There will be multiple ways to watch the inauguration after the school day is over, and a three-hour delay won’t make the events any less significant. You can even make it a whole event for your family in the afternoon so that the experience feels quite special (think snacks and decorations!). If your daughter has homework, you could consider letting it slide Wednesday night so that she still feels like she got out of something because of the importance of the day, and you could easily tell the teacher that she spent her homework time watching the inauguration instead.

Finally, I encourage you to think about yourself. Your daughter is only going to school two days a week. How will your work/life balance be impacted if you keep her home? What will she do the rest of the day before and after the inauguration? Would you get something out of watching it by yourself instead of having to explain everything that’s happening as it’s taking place? Would you benefit from getting a preview and then having a few hours to decide how to explain things to her before watching together?

Regardless of what you decide, a month, or a year, or four years from now, what will matter is that the inauguration happened, not the specific moment that you watched it.

Be well,



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