How are you?
You have completed over a month of homeschooling. This was a baptism of fire, wasn't it?
It's different from the 30 minutes to 1-hour daily homework that we were accustomed to.
Now, it's the entire school day in our homes.
Please pat yourself on the back, give yourself a round of applause, you've earned it.
I hope you do not feel too embarrassed by not knowing how to explain long division to your 8-year-old.
No one is judging you for "consulting" Google or Zoom calling a friend to assist with explaining photosynthesis.
You are not a teacher, you do not know pedagogy.
You are not a mathematician and, believe me, no one expects you to be.
Some of us are sitting at home not knowing how we will make ends meet: Covid-19 has turned our lives upside down.
Many among us have had salary cuts, have been laid off, for those who are self-employed and small business owners, business has ground to a halt.
Because of all these reasons, this has created a domino effect; we are not able to meet our monthly obligations we can't pay school fees, rent, mortgage, our cars...
The non-payment of fees is having an adverse effect on the wellbeing and livelihoods of our teachers.
Educators continue to be of support and are going out of their way, even when they are to affected by this pandemic.
To add to that, we are terrified of the eventual return of our children to school.
We all watched in a frenzy when the media briefing by the Department of Basic education proposed possible reopening dates and risk mitigation plans and measures that the department would undertake to curb the spread of infection once schools open.
This is unprecedented; we are dealing with a lot.
However, at this stage, the priority should be our sanity, survival and the safety of ours families and our children.
Things will never be entirely the same. One way or the other some form of homeschooling/online learning will remain with us or be a part of our lives.
At best you can create a conducive learning environment to ensure your kids follow a learning plan provided by your school, DBE or partners tasked with delivering content during the lockdown from radio, TV, online,WhatsApp and that they complete their work with your support and supervision.
It's perfectly fine not to feel okay; overwhelmed or stressed by what is happening. Perhaps reaching out to other parents in your school community might ease the pressure.
On the bright side, I hope this time has brought back pleasant memories of your own journey in learning, that your relentlessness to do right by your family has been reinvigorated in spite of the hardship we are living through.
That you and your families have become closer and solidified your bond and made you appreciate one another more.
I hope your homes are not only filled with stress and anxiety, but with laughter.
I have a mental image of your child catching you off guard and asking you a times table question and you not being able to answer 9×7.
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Teaching is nie Pap n vleis nie (not easy) we've all come to realize this not that we did not know it before.
Just a few days after schools were closed for lockdown, social media was abuzz globally with parents homeschooling their children.
It was beautiful to see parents being in the teacher's shoes and fully realizing the major role teachers play.
Teacher admiration was at an all-time high
It should, however, be followed up by better pay, working conditions and support for these heroes and heroines that lay the foundation for our humanity (our kids).
After just less than a week of homeschooling, some parents were tweeting that teachers should be paid R1 million each.
My fellow parents, hang in there. At best you are a coordinator and researcher to find info and resources, a nurturer, a provider and support system.
And believe me, that is an entire job spec in addition to our own work, but oksalayo (fact remains) you are not a teacher: don't be too hard on yourself.
We shall overcome
Our job is to ensure that there's a smooth transition back into "normal" school life - the parent-teacher relationship has never been more important than now.
Our collective goal should be to ensure there aren't too many learning or cognitive gaps while we remain in lockdown, and that when the lockdown is finally lifted, and our kids return to school, they continue to progress in their learning.
Finally, fellow South African parents, please go and brush up on long division.
Being asked to explain is not only embarrassing to you alone: it reflects badly on us collectively as a tribe - these kids talk in the playground and corridors.
We shall overcome, Sisonke (we are in this together).
I thank you.
- Sean Mbusi, father to a seven-year-old boy and the founder of Kamva Education.
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