Help for parents with school-going children

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga met last week with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to assess the state of readiness of schools across all provinces.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga met last week with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to assess the state of readiness of schools across all provinces.
Image: Yulia Grogoryeva/123RF

The date to reopen schools remains unclear, which means parents must continue to navigate the educational wellbeing of their children while simultaneously dealing with the national lockdown.

The department of basic education has issued a handbook providing advice and strategies to help parents get through the lockdown as effectively as possible.  

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga met last week with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to assess the state of readiness of schools across all provinces.

After the meeting Motshekga said: “On Monday [May 18] we [the CEM] will reconvene to consider progress made and then report to the public on the state of readiness.” 

“A lot of work has happened and we are happy with the progress reported in the last meeting but we need confirmation of deliveries that provinces were waiting for.”

Against this backdrop of uncertainty, parents are at home navigating through learning material and conducting meaningful study sessions with their children.

The department of basic education guide suggests parents should:

  • Take care of their own mental health and emotional wellbeing;
  • Structure a daily routine with their children;
  • Take care of their children’s emotional wellbeing and mental and physical health;
  • Use technology effectively; and  
  • Get advice on what to do during learning time.

It says parents should be kind to themselves while dealing with stress and uncertainties.

Parents should connect with and speak to their children increasingly during the lockdown while providing a sense of security and normalcy.

“The department doesn’t expect parents to become teachers during the lockdown, nor do we expect children to teach themselves the curriculum.

“Parents can be assured that once children return to school, ‘recovery’ plans will be put in place to ensure they are taught what they need to know,” the handbook says.

East London parent Lusanda Zondeki said her son’s school had been helpful in providing learning material and communication platforms with teachers, but the lockdown was an overwhelming time for parents.

“As a parent you become the teacher,” she said.

“As much as it’s helpful that my son’s teachers are available to answer questions, you don’t get a break as a parent. You have to be present all day.”  

On the reopening of schools Zondeki said: “It would be great to save the school year if possible. However the department has to take a lot of steps to reassure parents, educators and learners that their safety is a priority.” 

“Sending our children back to school would be great, but it isn’t feasible if the Covid-19 numbers keep growing, and if we are unsure of how the department plans to keep everyone safe.

“All schools should be properly prepared with resources before returning and should have personal protective equipment.” 

Department of educations spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani emphasized on the need to develop a daily routine for pupils. 

“We applaud schools and teachers who have been very resourceful in devising several mechanisms to continue engaging learners.  They've formed WhatsApp groups with their students and are using these to communicate daily lessons and homework and tasks, thus keeping learners constantly engaged.”

“We encourage parents to do the same, to develop a daily routine with dedicated timeframes, that commits children to focus to a specific learning area for a specified amount of time,” Pulumani said.

He said parents could use virtual platforms to gather learning materials.

“The Department's website www.eccurriculum.co.za provides full support with workbooks, curriculum instructions and support for all grades from ECD to FET phase. Parents can use all those resources to fully support their children through these difficult days and ensure that they are always fully engaged,” said Pulumani.


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