School from home
As a parent of two primary school children, I am very happy to say that I have never had the calling to educate my children myself. I admire those who are brave enough to take their children’s education on personally, and I adore my children’s teachers for educating my two children, so that I don’t have to.
That was until lockdown. Now we find ourselves in situations which require us to be parents and teachers, and for those of us who are poor teachers, the challenges abound! Schools across the country, private and government have been challenged to find ways in which to connect with their students and teach them. Schools in the south peninsula are no different and although we are a small community, the challenges remain the same.
We spoke to the headmaster of Fish Hoek High School (FHHS), Gavin Fish, to get his opinion on how to manage schooling from home and what his team of teachers are doing to help their students.
‘We have devised our own Covid policy. We communicate, communicate, communicate!’ says Fish. FHHS has managed to contact all students and work is distributed by different means, depending on the student’s access to data and devices. Fish notes that the trick in communication comes in getting students to communicate back with the school. They have found that work submission and Q&A with the teachers has provided an indication of student engagement and learning. FHHS is using all means of communication with students from Whatsapp groups to Google classroom.
This got me wondering, but what about the parents who are trying to manage work, and possibly schooling their children from home? Perhaps parents who are already home schooling their children could offer up a few suggestions, or have they been affected to? We chatted to Lorinda, a mom with three children living in Fish Hoek. Lorinda shared that her two older children are schooled electronically by another mother who also home schools her children, and therefore Lorinda doesn’t have to manage her two older children. However, her younger son requires her input and time and this has been challenging as he was attending a self-directed education centre prior to lockdown.
‘I’ve opted for trying to figure out solutions together, rather than a top-down, do-what-I-say kind of approach’ explains Lorinda. Lockdown has impacted on her children’s opportunity to take learning outdoors and be in nature, which is part of their curriculum. ‘My advice to children and parents would be to relax a bit more, don’t force your idea of education down your child’s throat…children never stop learning so there is no rush to get anywhere, children learn best in their own time’ recommends Lorinda. Sage advice, which was echoed by Mr Fish when we asked what approach he would recommend to students in these challenging times of schooling from home;
‘Do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day’s work. But bounce back, today is a new day, start again. Ask questions of your parent, classmates and educators. If you are bogged down, leave that subject and go on to work that is more familiar to you. Return to that work later. Mind over mattress, get out of bed, establish routines to which you can hold yourself accountable’.
Great advice for older children, who are able to hold themselves accountable! However, as parents of primary school children, how do we, the parents, stay sane? ‘Forgive, but then insist that they try again and better this time than the previous. Understand that we are all in this together, speak to friends, you will be amazed at just how similar many of our experiences are’ recommends Fish, and I couldn’t agree more. Speaking openly and honestly to fellow parents (not the tiger moms) has definitely helped keep me sane, knowing that each hour and day of schooling from home is a challenge, and we’re all just trying our best. So, hang in there, moms and dads, teachers and students, we will get through this, wiser in ways we may not yet know or understand.
This article first appeared in Billboard Magazine on 03 July 2020