ELOISE Bird can thank the coronavirus pandemic for reviving her teaching career, even if her new classroom is also her home.
The Catholic mother of three hasn’t taught in a classroom since her six-year-old son, Isaac, was born, but for health precautions, she, like thousands of Australian parents, is keeping her children out of school.
“I just feel there are too many things in school and too many bugs and we felt it was better for our family to limit how many bugs come into my family,” Mrs Bird said.
The qualified teacher is now rekindling her teaching degree to help her “studious little one” continue his Year 1 schooling at home.
“On Monday (last week) he said he wanted to homeschool forever, but (the day after) he said he was ready to go back to school soon,” Mrs Bird said.
Mrs Bird, who is a leader for Brisbane ministry Mother Effect, said it was important to follow a flexible schedule to “help the kids know what’s happening and it just calms me down”.
Her schedule outlines essential slots such as breakfast, lunch, and times for work and play, which are tailored to suit little Isaac and his two siblings, Joseph, 3, and Rachael, 1.
She said online resources were also a huge help even for qualified teachers.
Mrs Bird said she tried to limit screen and incorporate practical tasks to work on basic skills, like writing cards to family members as a way to improve basic English skills.
But isolation schooling isn’t just about the schoolwork – for this Catholic family, being in self-isolation also means improving their prayer life.
“I just feel since we can’t get to Mass and into the church physically that we need to step up at home what we do with our faith life,” Mrs Bird said.
“We have at the moment candles for Lent that we light when we do our prayer.
“I think my kids really love saying their intentions.
“Sometimes that can go on for a really long time, and depending on the day, we can pray for pretty much everybody individually in the world.”
Since Monday March 30, Queensland schools including Catholic schools have been operating with student-free days to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Queensland government ordered schools to limit schools to just children of essential workers for five days between March 30 and April 3.
Teachers statewide are also preparing for the possibility of supporting students who choose to do remote learning from home.
The Queensland Catholic Education Commission said in a statement that Catholic schools would review the COVID-19 situation and follow health advice on whether it was appropriate for schools to resume Term 2 on April 20 as scheduled.
While many parents are scrambling to reschedule their commitments to accommodate children learning from home, Mother Effect founder Carrie McCormack is one step ahead of most families in isolation.
Her son Blaise has been completing Year 7 through distance learning well before COVID-19 posed a threat to Australian students.
“He’s such a self directed learner, it’s suiting him,” Mrs McCormack said.
“Now with coronavirus hitting, it’s been a warm up for us as the rest of the family comes home.”
Mrs McCormack said her biggest tip to parents was to remember that children’s learning is a vulnerable experience “and they need trust and care along the way and that begins the day they’re born”.
“It means having a common language of faith and family prayer, and children feeling accepted and loved in their home, that they feel so safe and in a trusted environment that they’re willing to be in a learning environment.
“Mums, keep building strong foundations, because we don’t know what will be thrown at us in the future.”