Online Mathematics from a mom’s perspective

Carmen Rieth shares her experience as a mother of three children who have needed to adapt to online learning during these challenging times. She describes the transition that her children are coping with and has some sound advice for others in similar circumstances.

Illustration by Nino Mekanarishvili

Our children have been at home, since the school’s closure, from Monday the 23rd of March, a few days before the Lockdown began on the 26th of March.

We are very fortunate to attend a school that was already using online learning and communication, via the Google Suite, to a certain extent prior to the National Lockdown, this meant that there was very little interruption to their normal school day, with the transition to online learning appearing to be quite seamless. We have a son in Grade 9, a son in Grade 8 and a daughter in Grade 4.

Mathematics, specifically, is working well online, according to my son, who is in Grade 9. There is very little class ‘disruption’ (which irks him in his other lessons). So well, in fact, that I have not been called on to assist much at all – to my great relief, since it has been quite a while since I last solved for ‘x’! As far as our daughter in Grade 4 goes, she needs a little bit more supervision and assistance, which is to be expected while they learn new concepts, but the teaching videos and online sessions have been instructive and even with her I’ve had to have minimal input.

I have heard from several friends, who have children in various grades at our school that, for the most part, online learning has been relatively painless for the parents. This is very different to other parents’ findings at schools where the approach is more “home-schooling” rather than “online learning”.

It is highly recommended that you encourage effective time management and organisational skills as well as a healthy dose of self-discipline for your child(ren) so that they are well equipped to navigate the ‘new’ normal. It has been my experience, thus far, that letting the children work independently, finding their own way around their respective devices and timetables, has been beneficial to us all. I still have my morning relatively free to concentrate on my own tasks, whilst being available to the children, should they need assistance. This teaches them the vital life skill of resilience and perseverance – to keep trying until they get it right. The teachers are available to them via email or their Google Hangouts, should they have questions. I prefer not to get involved much more than that as I feel it is important for them to be able to learn to become independent, and also that they learn from any mistakes they might make.

Illustration by Liani Malherbe

A neat workspace is important, with everything that might be required for each lesson close at hand. Naturally a reliable, high-speed internet connection is vital: we realise that we are of the very lucky few to enjoy this modern convenience. It also helps that we have enough devices (old laptops and a tablet) that are still functioning and able to connect to the Wi-Fi to allow all three children to participate fully in their classes during real-time.

Having children at home all day comes with another important consideration: a fully stocked fridge and healthy snack options – these children need to feed their brains almost constantly!

It is important that the children give themselves decent rest from their devices, so during their normal ‘break’ time they will venture outside to throw a few basketball hoops or practice their cricket shots against the ball suspended in an old sock from the washing line. All work and no play and all that!

We are certain that our children are being suitably well prepared for their assessments and exams this year. Together with this, they are receiving a whole new skill set: online etiquette; navigating around a computer; self-discipline; resilience; time management and organisational skills.

Although we have not missed any teaching days thanks to online learning, we do hope that our children are able to go back to school soon – digital face time is nowhere near as enjoyable as physical face-to-face time, both with their teachers, tutors and especially all their friends. And oh, how we are all missing the sport!

I commend the efforts that our teachers are putting into their lessons, while they have the same at-home challenges as the rest of us. Each and every one of them is a super-hero!

Carmen Rieth

by Laylaa Motola
Meme by Laylaa Motola

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