Diary of a volunteer home-schooler

Connect Health & Community communications volunteer, Leesa, not only supports us, but generously helps those in her immediate community too.  During recent school closures, Leesa helped neighbours by home-schooling their children so they could work.  This is her story.

Leesa's home-school overcame technology challenges, internet outages and a busy schedule to deliver great outcomes for everyone.

There were around about 22,106 students doing home-schooling while schools were shut down due to the COVID-19 in Australia. 

Most parents and students said that it was hard for a few weeks to a month, and then got easier as time went by.  Some parents really enjoyed home-schooling because they could see what their children were learning.  As result, some parents decided to continue home-schooling.

Then there were parents who wanted their children back at school because they didn't have the time because they had to work. 

Many students who were struggling at school found home-schooling easier because of the one-on-one assistance. As a result, one of the children I was teaching has gone up a level on her reading and other subjects.  I am so proud that home-schooling was a great help to her. 

In an article on ABC new (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-11/coronavirus-education-homeschool-after-pandemic/12228762) they found that children with diagnosed Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other disabilities might find it harder to do work at school, but when they were learning from home they were more calmer and more relaxed because they had one-on-one and many found learning easier.

With more people working from home these days because COVID 19, some parents are considering moving to part-time work so they can keep their children in home-schooling part-time too.  (Only Victoria, Tasmania and ACT allow students a combination of home-school and going to school).  They feel this would properly give the parents an idea what they are learning and bring the parents and children together more than before.

My experience of home-schooling

I am going to tell you my side of home-schooling.  I don’t have any children, but I helped my next-door neighbour with her two children and then I had two more children join us later on.  

We had a rocky start because I haven’t been teaching children since I left my volunteer job as teacher’s assistant at Monash Development School in 2009.    I had one of the parents help me with the children, but sometimes she was not sure what to do.  And sometimes the children struggled.  If the children didn’t want to do their schooling because they didn’t think they could do it, I would say “come on do your work, you can do it”, then they would do it.

I also found it was hard at the start because I had never used the program, SeeSaw, before.  It was quite confusing until I got used it.   After a few days I got the hang of SeeSaw and things were getting easier everyday …unless the Internet went down or the program needed to be updated! 

I would come home at night and just fall asleep because it was so exhausting.  When I came home all I wanted was my bed. 

At the start I was teaching the two children, in grades 1 and grade 2.  It was very different when I was in grade 1 or grade 2, but then again, that was long time ago and I think teachers teach children differently now so the children can understand more. 

Then I had another child who was in grade 2 join us, and that made it a bit easier teaching two children at the same time.  If I was busy with the grade 1 child and the grade 2 children were have to try work it out or wait for me to help them. 

Another child, who was sister of the grade 1 child, started home-schooling about four weeks in.  I feel that she wasn’t happy to do home-schooling which made it challenging for us all.

I know that school can be hard.  When I was at school, I was willing to learn but the teacher didn’t seem to care.  If I got to grade 6 they thought that was fantastic, but I did not think so at all.   I feel that I am learning more now than I was at school.

So, like all home-schooling parent/teachers, there were high points and low points.

What I liked about home-schooling:

  1. It was a wonderful chance to help and get closer to my next-door neighbors, while socially distancing of course.
  2. By the time home-schooling was finished I could see the benefits of homeschooling. Two children were reading a lot better and one was starting to read a lot more, as well. 
  3. I think they were learning more at homeschool than at school, not picking on the teacher but the children was on one on one nearly all the time. I felt they were more relaxed at home. 
  4. I could see what they were struggling with so I could explain it a different was so it was clear to them or go slower so they could understand it.
  5. As the result of this home-schooling I am now able help my neighbors’ children do their homework, which I am really enjoying it. I can see an improvement with both children willing to learn. 

What I didn’t quite like about home-schooling:

  1. Having to learn how to use SeeSaw and teach my students and their Mum.
  2. If one child was finish she could not go on the next session until it was time to do it.
  3. The fact you had to be computer literate. I wonder how many parents weren’t able to help their children because of the computer program.
  4. I felt the children were missing out on being with their friends and teachers.
  5. Having three children who were willing to learn and a fourth who didn’t, made it quite challenging for everyone.

The last thing I would like say I really enjoyed homeschooling and if it happens again, I would help them. 


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