'I’m anxious about the future': mothers on juggling work and home schooling

22 April 2020 - 06:00
By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Grade 1 pupil Jordin Spiers is learning at home during the lockdown.
Image: Supplied Grade 1 pupil Jordin Spiers is learning at home during the lockdown.

Sphesihle Ndaba, a parent of children in grades 1 and 3, sometimes makes them dress in school uniform to help distract them from the lockdown.

She is among many parents who are having to not only adjust to the pressures of working from home, but also helping their children with the school curriculum.

“The kids don’t seem to be suffering. They understand what’s going on. As a parent I have a lot to worry about and I’m anxious about the future. I wish I knew exactly how long I will have to multitask. It’s helpful that I have a reliable internet connection to help with school work.

“We act like it’s a normal school day. They wake and prepare. I get them to wear their school uniform sometimes, just to convince their minds that the lessons are as serious as they were at school. It’s difficult, but we have no choice,” Ndaba said.

Though her children are happy she is at home every day, she concedes: “I’m losing my mind.”

Lizell Spiers’ daughter Jordin, who is in grade 1 at St Theresa Convent School in Coronationville, said she was coping because of the help she receives from the school.

“From the onset, the school and her teacher have been nothing but helpful. The teacher even set up a YouTube channel for her pupils. The school has an online communicator which parents use to download each grade's work per week. It’s easy for parents to use and to navigate through.

“I’m not a very patient person so this experience has taught me to respect educators and have a small glimpse of what they go through daily, and with other people’s children,” Spier said.

She has to juggle laundry, cooking, teaching and cleaning.

“I have an amazing hubby who helps when he can as he is working full-time from home, so he retreats to his office in the morning,” she said.

Spier also has two teenage daughters, Jaede in grade 11 and Jaime-Leigh in grade 9, who are learning to self-teach as their teachers send work or help via WhatsApp.

For Phumzile Mthethwa, the process is overwhelming.

“I'm basically wrapping my head around eight subjects on my own. My son is in grade 7 at Curro and they registered on MS Teams. Some teachers have online classes but because of glitches on that platform, most teachers have WhatsApp groups where they share the daily worksheets.

“But there is no explanation of the work so I have to go through it with my son and help him complete it. Trust me, I complain every minute,” she said.

Her company provides essential services so she also works from home.

Dipuo Morake says managing work and school work is challenging.

“I'm a therapist and I'm mostly mentally exhausted. I work with adults with intellectual disabilities. What I do is we do school work immediately after work.

“We have a WhatsApp group with the class teacher. We discuss all the challenges and homework on the group. The class teacher is always available to assist,” she said.

Monalisa Senne’s sister is in grade 9 and seems to be coping well.

“It's not bad. We watch a maths TV programme every day at 1pm. The school has e-mailed us question papers to work on. I'm very good with numbers so that part is easy for me to teach. She is doing well. We are not best friends during the teaching but she is learning.

“There is a maths group chat for pupils in her grade from 2.30pm to 4pm,” Senne said.