With Stage 4 restrictions in place in Melbourne, Year 11 and 12 students will also move to remote and flexible learning, like Prep to Year 10 students, in all of Victoria. While many parents may find remote learning for their children onerous, luckily, resources and help for home-based learning are available if needed.
When schools in Victoria moved to remote learning at the start of Term 2, Melbourne mum Anchal Prabhakar had to make arrangements to work from home to be able to help her six-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son with their learning.
"My son is still able to cope up with online learning to an extent, but it's really difficult for my daughter to understand instructions from her teachers when they are delivered online," she says.
So, when stage 3 restrictions were relaxed in June, Ms Prabhakar says it was a huge relief for her.
But now with stricter restrictions in place and all Victorian schools moving to remote and flexible learning, Ms Prabhakar is once again having to juggle her office work with helping her kids learn at home.
- All students from Prep to Year 12 are required to move to remote and flexible learning, except vulnerable students and children of permitted workers, if they can’t study at home
- Students enrolled at specialist schools in rural and regional Victoria will be able to attend school
- Students of migrant and ethnic backgrounds face additional challenging to learn from home
Education consultant Tamara Kidd from TutorYourOwnChild.com has educated her two children at home for 14 years. She says parents need to realise that home-based learning due to COVID-19 is supported by schools and teachers and it is different from the actual “homeschooling” which removes your child from the school system completely.
A former primary school teacher, Ms Kidd says with the support of schools and teachers from a distance, parents function more like tutors providing support to their children.
She says home-based learning does not need to follow a nine-to-three school programme as schools often experience many interruptions during the day from various breaks and activities. She says students usually get only about two to three hours of work done in a normal school day.
She suggests getting younger students to do most of their school work in the morning and allowing teenagers to stay up and wake up later as their bodies adjust to the biological changes while growing up.
Cool Australia is a not-for-profit organisation founded by adventurer, photographer and author Jason Kimberley.
It provides educational resources used by teachers in 90 per cent of Australian schools and for parents.
The pandemic has kept the organisation busy adapting their online resources into simplified materials for parents to access from home amid increased demands from Australia and abroad.
Mr Kimberley says Cool Australia promotes personal and social skills in its free learning activities in addition to materials for key subjects like maths and English in the Australian curriculum.
How to build their self-confidence, their self-discipline, their decision-making skills.
He encourages parents to stay positive and make the most out of this experience now that families are forced to stay closer than ever.
Mr Kimberley suggests setting up a learning environment at home and even asking children to wear their school uniform.
"It just gives them that mindset that I’m going to study, I’m going to learn."
Students from migrant and refugee backgrounds not on equal footing
Ramesh Kumar who heads Victoria-based Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre says many students his organisation supports face a different reality.
Even though many of Kumar’s clients came to Australia with a clear drive to excel in this country, the obstacles of job cuts, social isolation, and home-schooling presented by COVID-19 have placed an extra burden on families.
"There is no proper home-learning environment if there are four children that go to school and then there is not enough space and there is not enough equipment," he says.
Mr Kumar is concerned about high school students who often need to assist their younger siblings because their parents cannot help due to a lack of English proficiency or understanding of the Australian education system.
The organisation has partnered with South East Community Links and local schools to provide equipment aid for children to learn from home.
Mr Kumar says, unfortunately, some students of migrant or refugee backgrounds are not on an equal footing to their Australian-born counterparts and do not always have the luxury to fully devote to their studies.
"For the girls from certain backgrounds, it is more challenging because the mum gets them to do all kinds of work so they didn’t get time to even do their homework," he told SBS Radio.
In addition to studying without the support of teachers, children may also need to help their parents engage with Centrelink and do online banking and shopping.
Southern and Migrant Refugee Centre is helping students improve their learning outcomes through its homework support program which is being offered online due to COVID-19.
The bilingual tutors often have experiences similar to their students.
Walter Valles has been adjusting to tutoring online using Zoom since the homework support program moved online at the end of term one.
It is a constant learning process for the retired maths teacher but the eagerness of his students from asylum seeker and refugee families inspires him to do his best.
"I was in awe of the students I was working with now. Their thirst for knowledge. Their desire for improvement."
Reviews by education experts on New Zealand’s 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes found that students actually performed better after weeks of home-based learning. This is what Brisbane mum Mona Perez discovered about her 10-year-old daughter and six-year-old son after moving them to home-based learning before the end of Term 1.
"My daughter’s maths has improved a lot which was always a struggle at school," she says.
Students in New South Wales have been attending schools in Term 3 with schools operating full time and many additional activities have recommenced.
In Western Australia, further restrictions have been lifted from 27 June and activities such as assemblies, excursions, interschool activities, school choirs and examinations have resumed.
All schools in Victoria, including public, private and faith-based schools, are moving to remote and flexible learning arrangements for students from Prep to Year 12. Children enrolled at special schools in remote and regional communities can attend school.
In Tasmania, students who are well are continuing to learn at school during Term 3. Students at higher health risk are being supported to continue learning at home.
Schools and preschools in South Australia are open and students are required to attend school unless they are unwell or are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 because of any health condition.
All Northern Territory students are expected to physically attend school.
All schools in Queensland, including special schools, have returned to on-site teaching and learning for most students. Some medically vulnerable students or those students who live with medically vulnerable people, may need to learn at home.
Australian Capital Territory Schools are teaching remotely during term 2. Nine schools are providing onsite supervision to children of essential workers.
For more information on home-learning resources, visit the following websites.
Students across all years in ACT schools will continue with on-campus learning and schools will continue to support remote learning for students who are vulnerable to COVID-19.