The COVID-19 lockdown has seen parents and caregivers around the country become masters of juggling parenting, work and now playing the role of ‘school teacher’ for their children.
South Auckland mother Maselina Tufuga says it’s taken a few weeks to get her son, 9-year-old Luke and her brother Lennox, a Year 13 student at De La Salle College, into a routine that works for the family.
She’s doing this while also dealing with a snapped left Achilles tendon, severely restricting her movements.
“Working full time and having Luke ask questions about maths or science has been tough to manage, as a parent you want to give your child as much attention as possible, but then you can’t leave your team halfway through a work zoom meeting.”
Like many parents across the country, Maselina has chosen not to send Luke and her brother back to school in Alert Level 3 lockdown for safety reasons.
To maximise productivity, the family has broken up their days into hourly blocks so when Luke is having class via zoom, Maselina is trying to get through her own workload.
“Thankfully, I’ve got my younger brother here with us, because he can take Luke outside for his P.E lesson. They’ve also been boxing together, and I’ve found that when they come back inside to their schoolwork, they’re more focused on tasks.”
While devices in the hands of children is the norm nowadays, Luke actually detests screen time.
“My son is a kinaesthetic learner and he gets anxiety being on a device, he prefers physical interaction, so as a way to combat his frustration, we’ve started taking more regular breaks.”
Maselina’s partner, Max is an essential worker helping to distribute essential products around the country, often working long hours. She has also found that the lockdown has meant working 3 to 4 hours longer per day than usual.
During the lockdown the family has made a number of trips to the chemist due to a flare up in hay fever for both boys.
“I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve had to stay home and be confined to our bubble, but their hay fever was never this bad before the lockdown.”
Alert Level 3 rules means families can extend their bubble to include close family members. This has come at just the right time for Maselina as she prepares for surgery on her snapped Achilles next week.
“I’m relieved because when I go in for surgery, Luke can go and stay at his grandparents’ house and my partner won’t have to take time off work, which would affect our family income.”
Maselina has seen a silver lining in the lockdown.
“In terms of our wellbeing and mental health, we’ve become closer as a family and I’m really happy about that.”
Tips for distance learning for students
- Take regular breaks.
- Try and break up the learning day into blocks of 1-2 hours at a time.
- Get students outside regularly for some fresh air and exercise.
- Make the activities fun. Play silly music in the background, if they’re on TikTok, give it a go with them.
- Be patient.
- If in doubt, always ask the teacher.
Contact the dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 for health advice and information if you have confirmed, probable or suspected COVID-19.
- Youthline 0800 376633 or text 234
- Parent Help Line 0800 568856
- Lifeline 0800 543354 or free text 4357 for counselling and support
- Anxiety line 0800 111757 or free text 4202