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Mother makes online learning work with a single device

Published:Friday | October 23, 2020 | 12:08 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Acia Wills with one of her sons during his class session.
Acia Wills with one of her sons during his class session.

PORUS, Manchester:

When Acia Wills gets her children ready for their online classes in the morning, nothing is left up to chance. It has to be a well-thought-out, strategic move, or everything goes downhill.

The working mother of six children, with four in her immediate care – three at the infant and primary levels – uses a single device to access their classes via Zoom and WhatsApp daily.

But despite the tedious task, Wills said there is no alternative to making it work.

“I prioritise the work they get daily. If my son, who is in primary school, has a Zoom class early, I will contact the teachers for my other children who are in infant school and let them know that I am facilitating my older son at that time.”

This strategy, however, never gets in the way of Wills’ effort in ensuring that her children submit their work on time.

How She Does It

“I get up early in the mornings, get breakfast done. By 8 a.m., when my older son’s work comes in, I write it off in a book, explain it to him and have him complete it in his book. By 9 a.m., my other two kids’ work comes in, so I write it off and have them do it with my supervision.”

Wills said it is often frustrating using a mobile phone for all three children, but she always has a contingency plan in place, even if it means borrowing from her neighbour.

“Once when my phone stopped working, I had to go over to my neighbour, borrow her tablet and get work for the children. I always try to get the work to teachers within the time frame of school, which is 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 9 a.m to 2 p.m.”

Thrice weekly, when Wills works on an egg farm in the area, she juggles her children’s online classes by taking intermittent breaks to get their work to them, see to its completion and later submit to the respective teachers.

“With their father working, it is left up to me to get it done. If we want what’s best for our children and we put our minds to it, we can make this online learning work. It can be frustrating at times and time-consuming because you really can’t do much within those school hours. But if we want our children to be successful, we have to make it work until we get through this COVID pandemic.”

Wills said she is hoping to acquire a second device so her son at the primary level, who requires less supervision with a device, can access his classes freely.

Principal at the Porus Infant School, Everton Tyndale, where two of Wills’ children are enrolled, said he is pleased with the level of cooperation from the parents.

“We have 94 students enrolled and we see about 80 students online. We recognise that persons cannot access because they have no device and so we are working with our international partners to get some tablets.”

Tyndale said he recently got five tablets from a donor; however, those have been distributed and he is looking to replenish the stock.

“My parents are really cooperating. I am particularly pleased with parents like Acia, who has a ‘not-so-working phone’ and has four children with her and is never late with submitting work to children’s teachers.”

Tyndale acknowledges that it will take some time for teachers and students to adjust to online teaching and learning, but he is satisfied with how willing his staff and parents are to make it work.