Home Education Provider, Brainline, has stressed the importance of parents needing to prepare and equip themselves for what it terms as ‘crisis homeschooling’. Brainline is hosting weekly information sessions with a registered psychologist for parents and learners to address challenges in light of the impact of the coronavirus on education and families in general. Consultant clinical psychologist for Brainline, Tanya van de Water, says the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown that has affected the education of hundreds of thousands of learners, has placed many parents in a crisis situation.
‘No one could foresee the current situation when we started the 2020 academic school year. COVID-19 has overwhelmed many and turned scores of parents into stressed homeschoolers. At times COVID-19 can feel like waging war against an invisible enemy,’ she says.
According to UNESCO, most governments around the world have at some stage temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These nationwide closures impacted over 60% of the world’s student population (https://en.unesco.org/covid19/educationresponse).
In South Africa, schools closed in the middle of March and only reopened for Gr 7 and 12 students on 8 June, while other grades will see gradual interphase. She says it is normal for parents to go through an array of emotions, including anger and uncertainty.
‘Parents are currently going through many emotions, including being sad, angry, anxious and unsure. It is important to appreciate that we have not been confronted with this situation before. There is no simple right answer.’
Van de Water says the current status quo has resulted in parents engaging in responsibilities that they previously outsourced. She says parents and society, in general, have needed to juggle multiple roles at home: like being the chef, cleaner, the employer, the employee, the parent and even the teacher. She says it is of the utmost importance that parents put measures in place, to help them cope with unchartered waters.
‘As the parent, the onus rests on you to ensure that you provide clear and decisive direction. Although overwhelming, these three steps can help. First of all, think clearly and do not act hastily. A crisis presents with both danger and opportunity, so choose what you are going to focus on. Secondly, do not be afraid to ask for help. There is no need to suffer alone, reach out to family, friends or your home-schooling organisation. Lastly, it is important to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally.’
Brainline CEO, Coleen Cronje, says they are still experiencing an influx of new learners due to parents not comfortable with the notion of sending their children back to school. She says Brainline has put in place several measures to assist parents during these uncertain times.
‘Our curriculum is structured in such a way that learners and parents can regularly engage with teachers if they are struggling with a certain subject. We also have a dedicated mentor on hand to assist learners on a one-on-one level should they experience anxiety or depression. Every week we also engage with the parents during our free online session where they can ask questions and get feedback on issues that are troubling them. We want to make sure that our parents and learners know that Brainline cares about their well-being.’
Brainline is IEB recognised, which means that learners follow the South African National Curriculum (similar to the curriculum offered in South African schools) resulting in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) upon successful completion of their matric exams.