• Marissa Anastasi

Education Department need to take their foot off the gas!

Updated: Apr 7

10:00 Friday morning is when I opened my eyes and realised we've missed our conference call. It's not for me, it's for my daughter, she's 7.

Not only is the corona virus multiplying at alarming rates, but so is the demand of parent’s schedules as many schools across the country have implemented online learning.

The first week schools closed, the online learning had yet to begin but it still came with its own challenges. Self-employed & working parents not knowing what they were going to do with their children, businesses at this point hadn't been enforced to close.

Mums posted brightly coloured homeschooling schedules and we all congratulated them or sent an emoji as a sign of encouragement. Some mums went to the extent of adding PE lessons, music lessons.... Like hell I was planning that. My parents didn't have to plan how I played when I was little, so why would I? What happened to kids just using their imagination and playing, since when did we have schedule how and what they should be playing with. Come on now, don't make your life complicated.

During our first week, at the very least, I read a book a day with my younger ones and flash cards. I tried to invent a schedule for my kids which was more like a tick list, whilst also doing my own work and I did, and I was happy, and they were happy.

Then online learning began and the dynamics around the house shifted, and our days became one full of tears and stress.

In this week a mother of four like myself from Israel went viral and the mum begs teachers to take their foot off the gas and lower expectations. It was one of the most honest and funniest videos I'd ever seen, and it came just at the right moment as I was feeling her pain, feeling the exact same way and I was having a really low week. Her post was honest and truthful.

It turns out online learning is nothing like my scheduled little homeschool program. Now there’s a constant barrage of links, passwords, barcodes to sign in with, google classroom, zoom, purple mash. It’s all too much. We get work from Greek teachers, music lessons, PE lessons on top of math’s and English. And this is just for my younger children.

I have four children age 16, 12, 7 and 5. All at different academic stages. I think when online learning was planned for the little ones, they failed to take into account a household with more than one child!

Kenny (16) and Isabella (12) have live distance learning as a normal school day from 7;30-1;35 every day. They take attendance strictly. They independently organise themselves but trying to keep Kimberly (7) and Maximus (5) quiet during these times so the older ones can concentrate is a mission in itself. Whilst Kenny and Isabella are trying to work, I'm painfully trying to complete the work set for them. Kimberly cries every day before beginning and whilst I really want to scream at her, I have to be mindful of the older ones live learning their Skype lesson. There’s been a few times they've come out and said, "My teacher can hear you being a nutter."

Honestly the work set every day is stressing me out and stressing the children out. Getting access is a challenge in itself. While a normal app requires a password, this seemed to straightforward for "seesaw"......no, they want a freaking barcode scanned. So, the switching between the two kids accounts, a fucking barcode is the only way in. Do they think I carry the barcode on my forehead all day? "WHERES THE FLIPPING BARCODE?" is a common question every morning. Oh no, and one app wasn't enough, we also have work spread across educations city, purple mash and zoom meetings.

We didn't attend our last zoom meeting for two reasons, first being I wasn't awake at 9am to get in the meeting and second, I had already decided the night before I wasn't attending because I was just so pissed off with the whole homeschooling situation.

I mean for god sakes, its like being an admin assistant to these mini humans. We schedule their calls, make sure their work is done, get them to stop for lunch, make their lunch and to top it off some days the internet just cannot cope with the usage.

And that is just about the younger children. The work set is as if we don't have other children who need help, or our own work commitments, or the anxiety corona virus has brought to us all. Businesses closed, going out prohibited, many of my teacher friends have been suspended without pay, how about the stress of no income or all those parents self-employed like ourselves who can't work and earn money, parents with newborns, retired people like my parents who have put all their life savings into getting one property to get income to live on who are not getting paid.

There is lot more going on within people’s homes but yet the pressure of distance learning seems to be taking over the household.

My sons GCSE's have been cancelled for June which is stressful for us and for him. He's worked so hard and his future and results lie with the education department deciding how and when they will be graded. Maybe from past results, teachers input, who knows, but it’s uncertain and far more important than a music lessons of water filled glasses sent to my 7-year-old.

But we need the education systems permission to loosen up with our children right now. This should be a time for baking cakes, reading books, playing bored games, some flashcards, simple worksheets for mathematics and English. This shouldn't be a time for over scheduling and intense lessons on volume and capacity.

Everyone is doing the best they can in a shitty situation and I'm not knocking the education department. The Schools are also faced with a new way to keep teaching, all while in quarantine themselves, many of them doing so with their kids being heard in the background as they try and find a quiet area in the house too. Dedicated they are and were all in the same boat. I'm grateful to them.

But it’s too much, and for the circumstances. The children are restless from not being able to go anywhere, we are not in a school environment and they haven't seen their friends in over 3 weeks. They feel our stress. Using a variety of different apps to homeschool is definitely not needed and a reminder of the stress families are going through from loss of jobs, loss of incomes etc... we don't need to be bombarded with a shit load of work daily. Cut out of what seems to be the whole curriculum for the term and send less good quality worksheets to be competed. Stick to math’s English and Greek. I defiantly won't be doing any sort of art or music lesson, it's literally the last thing I need to think about and also most kids have access to pens and paper and will do this naturally in their own time.

For the sake of parental sanity, we need a method to slow down, we are not teachers and faced with much more, all this work drowning us. At this present time, we are adult assistants, chefs, cleaners, teachers plus more and we need a break, a moment to breathe.

It is not our responsibility to cover the curriculum. The education department will have to work out a way to cover the work the children have missed.

What do you think of the workload being sent to the children? I would love to hear your view. Please leave a comment.

Trying to get through this. Grab yourself a glass of wine or a cup of tea in my case!

Marissa xoxo


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