Nova Scotia families deal with homeschooling woes amid COVID-19
With public schools closed until at least the May long weekend, some parents are looking for more support
Caroline Arsenault isn't a teacher, but like many other parents in Nova Scotia, she's had to act like one for the past six weeks.
Arsenault has a daughter in Grade 3 and a son in Grade 6 who have both been at home since public schools closed in March because of COVID-19.
She said she was excited about homeschooling in the beginning, "but it quickly fell apart."
"My kids were having meltdowns and so I decided our mental health and our happiness is much more important right now than completing homework."
Arsenault said her kids still read every day and connect with their teachers online, but she's changed the focus of homeschool away from assignments.
'The school of life'
"It's kind of the school of life here. They're doing laundry and they're cooking and we're having interesting conversations based on any kind of situation that comes up," she said.
Arsenault said she had to adapt because she doesn't have the same resources or skills as trained educators.
"I'm not as good of a teacher to my children as their teachers are," Arsenault said.
"There's all kinds of baggage wrapped up in how we interact together ... my kids react to me as their mother who's trying to be their teacher. That's really difficult. So once we set that aside, I am able to teach them a bunch of other things that are less academic."
Susan Hayden has also had to try to find ways to teach her three children at home, and she said it's been discouraging.
She has one kid in elementary school, one in junior high and one in high school, and she said they've each received different amounts of instruction. None of it has been enough, she said.
When the province recently extended school closures to at least the May long weekend, Premier Stephen McNeil said a new set of workbooks would soon be sent to families, which they could use as a teaching guide.
"I don't think a workbook would make any difference," said Hayden.
She said she would like to see a more virtual classroom time to interact with teachers and peers online.
Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, said that could be possible, but it might not be fair to those who don't have access to the necessary technology.
"It's not that we couldn't do something like that. The question is whether that's enough, whether that's all we should be doing and how are we going to support the kids that can't benefit from a model like that?" he said.
MORE TOP STORIES
With files from Preston Mulligan