A mother’s discovery, adjustment and education
Parents think they know their children – and that’s to be expected; they are, after all, their children. But with the suspension of physical, face-to-face classroom instruction in an attempt to contain the in-country spread of COVID-19, Janelle Albury’s children, along with thousands of other children around the country, had to get their lessons through online learning channels. While her children’s lessons continue, Albury said she was surprised to learn she could learn new things about them and herself. The weeks Albury has spent with her children during the time they would ordinarily be in school has taught her a few things that she had never really noticed before. She said she was a little surprised to find that the biggest adjustment for her was discovering and accepting the learning style of her children.
She learnt that her son Noah Albury, 14, a ninth-grade student at St. Augustine’s College, is like her – regulated and organized – so getting him going with online learning was easier. Her daughter Nina Albury, 10, a fifth-grade student at St. Thomas More School’s, learning style on the other hand, she discovered, was a bit more unstructured. When they first began online learning, Albury would get frustrated with her and was left wondering how her daughter did so well in school as she found she was so easily distracted.
“Another challenge I had when we began some five weeks ago was organizing the children, until I realized I am a facilitator. It is not my job to organize them and figure out how they will navigate this new way of learning,” said Albury.
“These children are alone with their teachers, without me, for seven hours a day, five days a week. It is not up to me to organize and figure this out for them. It is up to my children – along with their teacher, with my support – to work this out for themselves. I had to learn to step away as I do during regular school.”
After a quick panic, regroup and switch in mindset, she said, they settled in to begin online learning.
“Adjusting to online learning took some discipline on both my part and my children’s,” she admitted.
Albury stressed that her children are online learning as opposed to being homeschooled – terms which she believes are quite different.
“Homeschooling to me implies I am the sole person educating my children, [that is] I am planning the lessons and basically the captain of the education ship. This is not the case. My children’s teachers are still leading this process, and this is an effort with the entire school community to ensure that the education of my children is not disrupted.”
She also gives credit to Nina’s teacher, who she said is progressive and was already using online teaching to an extent before it became mandatory, which she said meant they were “rolling” almost immediately.
“She has also been excellent at communicating and making herself available to parents. When necessary she has made adjustments, introducing alternative distance learning methods and software which may be more applicable depending on the subject.”
Albury is also a champion of being in constant contact with teachers at this time. She admits that in some cases the situation they are now in has led her to get to know some of her children’s teachers better. And she’s also able to share and at times commiserate with fellow parents.
As online learning resumes today after a two-week Easter break, which Albury used to wait with bated breath to happen, she said she and her children go back into the virtual space more comfortable with online learning now.
“We are ready for the first day back,” said Albury.
Her views today have totally changed from the last few years.
“Two more days until Easter vacation is over and these children return to school. I have uttered these words many times over the years, but this year these words are said in an altered tone and have an entirely different context than before.”
She has also realized her children will be alright.
The mother of two said as the world tackles this global pandemic, it’s an opportunity to ensure that this generation will emerge stronger, smarter and more resilient and innovative than any other generation.
“The other lesson I have learnt during this time is that as a parent this is the perfect time for us to teach life skills. I am using this time to teach my children how to cook full meals, how to critically assess information particularly during this time when there is a barrage of information both true and untrue. During this time when many persons have lost their jobs and all of us must ‘tighten our belts’, I am talking to the kids about the importance of saving money and budgeting and how crucial it is to be able to live at times with plenty and other times with little.”
Education at all institutions of learning closed their doors and ceased face-to-face, in-person classroom instruction in response to the first case of COVID-19 confirmed in The Bahamas.
The prime minister ordered a one-month shutdown on Sunday, March 15 through Tuesday, April 14, after officials confirmed the first case on New Providence.
On Monday, April 6, in the House of Assembly, the education minister said schools will not reopen until the prime minister gives the order to do so as new cases continued to be confirmed.
As of Sunday, April 19, The Bahamas has 60 confirmed cases, nine deaths and 898 people in quarantine. Worldwide the coronavirus has infected 2,367,758 people and killed 163,134.