17 Apr 2020

Homeschooling with parents in lockdown

12:04 pm on 17 April 2020

School students have been video calling their teachers from kitchen tables and bedroom desks as a new term got underway this week.

Anoushka, 6, and her sister Frieda, 4, learning from home in Dunedin.

Photo: Supplied

Parents breathed a collective sigh of relief as Suzy Cato and overnight national heroes came to their rescue on Home Learning TV - Papa Kāinga TV, a Ministry of Education programme screening six hours each school day.

Among the 800,000 students going back to school, virtually, was Emma-Kate Lamb's six-year-old daughter Anoushka, who attends Bathgate Park School in Dunedin.

Lamb said lockdown had been a time for firsts as Anoushka and her sister Frieda, 4, have had ballet lessons by video calls, used leaves and marbles for maths, and were now learning new skills online.

"It's the first time the girls have used an iPad and Anoushka wrote her first email yesterday," she said.

"We're all about getting out in the garden and doing things all the time so there have been some tech challenges."

Lamb said the school has provided options for learning and made it flexible for families.

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Photos shared with RNZ show families getting into the swing of lockdown home schooling, including Jack, 16, and Spike, 12, who are living on a boat in Fiji.

They're enrolled with Te Kura Correspondence School and have always done online learning.

"It's no difference for us along with our classmates around New Zealand and the world," they said.

"We hope that every other kid in New Zealand gets the online support from their schools that we get. We Skype with our teachers often, as well as having access to lots of online courses and programs through Te Kura."

Stephen Parker says he and his two daughters have have been exploring the local golf course, Cargill's Castle (picture) and walking on the local beach.

Photo: Supplied

Others like Stephen Parker are enjoying a simplified lifestyle at home with family.

He said his daughters Huia, 12, and Ngaio, 10, are happy and content.

"They are loving it, they really miss their friends but they're enjoying hanging out with each other," he said.

They live in Dunedin's St Clair, and have been exploring the local golf course, Cargill's Castle and walking on the local beach.

Parker said they have been taking photos with an old camera and took all the photos sent to RNZ.

Huia said she had a Zoom meeting with her teacher and class the first day of the term.

"We have stuff we have to do, like reading Anne Frank and doing projects," she said.

"I really like playing more games, me and my sister have gotten better at badminton."

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The Ministry is sending thousands of laptops and paper-based learning kits to students, starting with low decile schools.

There are 80,000 households in New Zealand currently not connected to the internet.

Emma-Kate Lamb said it was a privilege to be able to be home with their children and focus on education at this uncertain time.

That said, she would be pleased when schools eventually re-opened.

"I can see there'd be some benefits to home schooling but I can pretty much hand on heart say I would never do that," Lamb said.

"It's not always fun there are tears and frustrations, we just try to make the most of the bits that are fun."

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