Lockdown springs homeschooling on parents

Evie and Archie O’Sullivan are enjoying ‘Nanny and Poppy School’ during lockdown, staying up to date with their schoolwork via daily check-ins with their teachers and online resources.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but as Regional NSW crawls through its second week in a surprise statewide lockdown, families are adapting.

Tammy Davies has three Primary-school aged children she’s been homeschooling, ages 7, 8 and 12. She said she has a lot of respect for teachers, and isn’t finding the job easy.

“To be honest it’s really hard,” said Mrs Davies.

“I’m working two days a week, so the kids go to school on those days.”

Mrs Davies said the instructions for her children – in Years 1, 3 and 6, have felt confusing at times, since she’s not familiar with reading lesson plans. She’d prefer to have simple activity sheets for the kids to do during lockdown and she’s hopeful they won’t be falling behind.

“They send all the work via email and it’s a lot to get through on my own,” she said.

“Two of my kids have autism so it’s not just easy helping them like other kids. It’s one on one the whole time.”

The family take long walks and regular breaks to prevent meltdowns, but Mrs Davies said that makes for a long day of schoolwork.

“I’m finding it really hard to understand a lot of the work that’s required of them,” she said.

Despite the challenges, Mrs Davies said lockdown has provided a unique time for the family to reconnect and enjoy playing board games as they follow the current stay at home orders.

“I’m loving having the extra time with them,” she said.

On the flip side, Elise O’Sullivan, mother of two Primary-aged children and Assistant Principal at Snowy Valleys School, said she’s felt well supported by her children’s school and has been pleased with the daily contact her kids have received from their teachers during morning check-ins.

“The school my children attend have kept us up to date with all information and introduced online platforms with ease,” said Mrs O’Sullivan.

Evie, in Year 1, and Archie, Year 3, are also enjoying the benefits of ‘Nanny and Poppy School’ while Mrs O’Sullivan works four days a week.

“The challenges with my own children have been the change of routine mainly,” said Mrs O’Sullivan, “But with the help of my parents, who are retired, we have tried to keep a good routine.”

At school, Mrs O’Sullivan said she’s been working with teachers to develop their own classroom learning packages. To support parents, they’re blending online work with hard copies, based on student needs and available materials.

“We have also found the NSW Department of Education’s online guided learning packages to be an amazing resource for our students,” said Mrs O’Sullivan.

“They offer a variety of work covering all learning areas and plenty of hands-on activities and brain breaks. 

“We have a schedule to phone all parents once a week to see how our students are going with their home learning.”

Franklin Public School has been sending workbooks home to students, via a contactless drop off and pick up point, while Tumut Public School has been especially active on Facebook.

TPS has been sending out daily and weekly challenges via their social media, encouraging families to upload photos of their children making their beds, completing physical challenges or reaching out to other friends and family who are also in lockdown.

Tumut High School has also been proactively sharing resources to support students’ mental health via their social media, including a full list of support numbers and websites for anyone feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. 

They include numbers for organisations such as Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), eheadspace (1800 650 890) and the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 699 599 467).