Esha Nag with her son Aadit
Esha Nag with her son Aadit Image Credit: Supplied

It’s March 22, Day One of Remote Learning.

It’s a start of school term like no other.

I’m not sure who is more anxious, my nine-year-old in Year 4 or me, a working mom having to deal with the newness of it all. My husband is currently working from India. I’ve chosen to work from home today to help him with online learning.

By 7:45am we are all set and at the breakfast table. Breakfast has been a quick bowl of cereal and I’ve promised him pancakes later.

Registration needs to be done between 8am and 9am. We are excited and want to log in before that.

The school has explained to us the timetable lessons and breaks. We are using the Seesaw platform where teachers post classwork and instructions either as written notes, online links or videos.

Besides this there are a whole lot of apps we can use: My Math, Accelerated Reader that quizzes the children on what they have been reading, Read Theory - a comprehension app and Quizlet – a language app to practice Arabic and French.

New chapter of learning

My son is pretty chuffed about this new chapter of learning.

The school he loves going to every morning, has now become a school in the cloud. For him it means no uniforms and more flexibility, and perhaps (he lives in hope) he can turn on Spotify when he wants to and at first break time try a finesse shot on FIFA 20 on his Ninetendo Switch.

The Day One schedule for Year 4 remote learning looks is looking good.

There’s a “good morning” video from my child’s class teacher; a short mindfulness session, two core lessons (you can choose from English, Maths, Science); one specialist lesson (from social studies, moral education, performing arts, physical education, French and Arabic); a selection of additional tasks (a mix of independent reading, handwriting practice, buddy spelling, Times Tables Rock Stars) and a story time to close the day. Looks quite a bit to keep him busy for a few hours, I feel.

From 9am to 11am

From 9 am till 11am my son gets on with the core subjects. So far so good. In English Literacy he goes over spelling patterns (adding the suffix ‘ous’ to various words) and calling out to me every five minutes to check on his sentences. “Mummy does a stale cheese smell odorous?”

Maths is slightly trickier.

The teacher discusses equivalent fractions. He has to work out the problems in his school book, take a picture and upload it. There is a bit of a hiccup here and there but he gets it in the end.

At 11, he lets out a sigh.

“It’s so quiet mummy!” he says. I realise that it is indeed. Meanwhile the class chat group is active now and there’s been a fair share of tears, problems getting back to schedule, and minor technical glitches at different homes. But we all agree on two things: we have to keep the kids on routine and the social part of school is the saddest loss for sure.

I am not sure how my child would handle it tomorrow when I am away. It’s definitely lonely being away from school and studying in isolation. I decided to ask other moms for survival hacks.

Snack break: 11:15am

First snack break at 11 :15 is a welcome change with pancakes and eggs.

I also hear a bit of techno hip hop with him — I’ve just discovered Martin Garrix so I don’t mind. At this point I realize I haven’t got much work done of my own.

My SOS on the school chat group has yielded results. Within five minutes we have a brief zoom session with a few of the other boys. Small pleasures.

Back to work at 11:45am

Back to work at 11:45. The social studies segment wants kids to make Hummus and Arabic bread today. I make a dash for the supermarket to get a can of chick peas, tahini, olive oil and a radish.

But we keep the activity for the evening and decide to take up independent reading for about 30 minutes – Big Nate Lives it Up.

Accelerated reader

Then another 15 minutes on the Accelerated Reader, and another 10 minutes doing some short comprehensions.

By 1pm I am tired. We try and listen to a story online: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, and talk about it a bit. I think we’ll call it a day here having completed all the core tasks.

Day One has been smooth sailing. We made good progress. But tomorrow is another day as I go to work. I know it won’t be perfect. But we’ll try.