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'Can't wait for this to end': Parents and children open up about struggles of homeschooling amid COVID lockdown

(L-R) Gurfateh Singh and Manraj Singh during their online classes. Source: Supplied by Ramanpreet kaur Bhalla

From logistic issues ranging from choppy internet connections and printing to concerns surrounding mental health, parents and children from the community speak about the challenges they are facing due to remote schooling amid the gnawing stretch of the Australian lockdown life.

Melbourne-based family daycare educator Ramandeep Kaur Bhalla said she loves tutoring young children but is struggling to cope with her work life while homeschooling her two boys.

"I never thought that I would have to juggle between my working life and my role as a mother and now a teacher all this while working from home. It's an absolute struggle to get by each day", said the 36-year-old mum.


Highlights:

  • Parents share concerns about how school shutdowns are damaging their kids' education and affecting their mental health
  • Children eager to return to schools claim they miss their friends and routine
  • Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has released a roadmap to reopen schools

Expressing her frustration with the enduring lockdowns, Ms Bhalla said that increased screen time due to online learning has become a common concern for many parents.

"For many migrant families, this has been a very really challenging and overwhelming time. The teaching methods are totally different from what we were used to in India and on top we have limited knowledge of the curriculum which aggravated the feeling of helplessness among many parents", she said.

Ms Bhalla whose husband's working hours and the pattern doesn't permit him to help his children during their online classes said she is at her wit's end with having to manage it all alone.

"I can't wait for all this to end," she said.

homeschooling
Parents share concerns about how school shutdowns are damaging their kids' education.
Getty Images/Mayur Kakade

'I can't wait to get back to school'

Parents are not the only ones who are bearing the brunt of school closures. Ms Bhalla's ten-year-old son Gurfateh Singh said he cannot wait to get back to face-to-face learning. 

"I feel very sad because I miss my school friends. It is frustrating to sit and study at the same place each day", rued the fourth-grader. 

His younger brother Manraj Singh who is studying in grade two shared his own woes.

"I cannot finish my school tasks and assignments on time, and I miss playing with my friends outdoor", he said.

 

homeschooling
Amandeep Kaur's children, Chirag and Lavin.
Supplied by Amandeep Kaur

A former teacher's aide Amandeep Kaur said that parents with younger school-going children have been worst affected. 

'We want schools to reopen again'

The 38-year-old mum of two said, she has noticed changes in their sleeping patterns and overall behaviour and is waiting for the schools to reopen.

"When I ask my younger son who is in grade three to finish his school tasks on time, he gets angry, anxious and often feels pressurised. It's hard to make him understand as he cannot use technology by himself," she said.

Ms Kaur's 12-year-old son, Chirag said he has become very lazy and feels sad when he doesn't get the desired result in his academics.

In light of the challenges being faced by parents, the newly re-appointed Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has released a roadmap to reopen schools, which includes rapid testing and strict hygiene rules.

In his recent speech, the Liberal leader highlighted mental health concerns as one of the top challenges being encountered by children.

"The consequences of lockdowns and social isolation on our students will last a lifetime if we don't act now," Mr Guy said in a statement.

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to the podcast in Punjabi.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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