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Schooling worries resurface after lockdown ends

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Some parents of primary school-aged children are shelving online learning tasks sent to them by their schools, as children officially start back at school under lockdown.

Parents in the Nelson region told Stuff they hadn’t been able to deal with emails properly from their children’s schools about online assignments since lockdown began on March 26, because they couldn’t get the technology to work at home, the number of emails was overwhelming, or they were busy working themselves. “It’s all too hard,” essential worker Mel said, as term two kicked off on Wednesday.

The solo mother’s seven year old son had been staying at her parents’ house during the week, since COVID-19 alert level four started. “I just keep forwarding emails to mum, and hope she can figure it out.”

The mother of a nine-year-old boy hoped this week would not be a repeat of their schooling attempts during the first week of lockdown. She and her son became stressed when they tried to access online learning tasks via Google Classrooms, emailed by her son’s school.

“In the first couple of days I couldn’t get any of it to work and I felt totally inadequate,” she said.

When they did access tasks, like maths, he ended up upset when she tried to help, because she had different ways of working things out and he felt like he wasn’t doing it properly, she said. S

he was hoping for better communication from the school after the holiday about what was coming this term, and how it would all work. 

There did seem to be an expectation that some of the work should be attempted, she said. But parents who emailed teachers directly were urged by the teachers not to stress, and only do what they could.

One parent said she had given up on her daughter’s online learning platform as she couldn’t get it to work, and was just asking her to write a diary, while focusing on making the lockdown enjoyable. 

A psychologist  invited onto prime minister’s Jacinda Ardern’s live Facebook series on COVID-19 earlier this month – said parents’ “single most important job” was to keep things calm and settled in their homes.

Nigel Latta encouraged parents only to help children do school work during lockdown, if their children wanted to.

The mother of an intermediate student said she was struggling to deal with all the school work that her daughter wanted to complete. 

The single mother, who also had a college-aged student at home, was finding it difficult to keep up with what felt like “an unending stream” of emails from the schools, let alone assignments.

Working full-time from home in an essential industry and trying to run a household, the school work amounted to added stress she did not need at the moment, she said.

“My intermediate school-aged child is conscientious and wants to do the assigned work well,” the mother said.

“Telling her not to worry about it is not an option, so I have to somehow find the time to help her navigate the online lessons and systems she needs to use. I am not familiar with some of these computer systems myself so that doesn’t help.”

The mother said she believed the students and their caregivers, whether they were working or not, had enough to deal with coping with the lockdown itself.

“Adding school work into the equation via systems the kids are not already familiar with is too much right now,” she said. “Would another week or so off school be so bad?”

The Ministry of Education said it didn’t want parents to worry. At any one time, some children would be more engaged in learning than others, whether at school or at home, Deputy Secretary Early Learning and Student Achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, said.

Parents should “feel comfortable” that they could raise any concerns about expectations with teachers, MacGregor-Reid said.

“Teachers will have well-being front of mind and know that families will be facing different challenges at the moment, just as teachers themselves are.

“Teachers will be able to offer guidance to families on what they can reasonably do to continue learning at home.”  

This article was originally published on 15 April 2020 at https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/121020364/coronavirus-schooling-worries-resurface-after-covid19-lockdown-holiday-ends?rm=a

Question answered 03/05/20 @ 14:51 pm

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