Bedrooms, offices and dining rooms have become makeshift classrooms as remote learning becomes the new normal for Northland families.
Yesterdaymarked the start of term two, after school holidays were brought forward because of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, but instead of rushing through the school gates, children will be staying at home.
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Principals around Northland had been preparing to deliver remote learning even before the official lockdown was announced.
What it means for students will depend on their schools and year level, but many principals say they are being flexible and understanding of different situations whānau may be in.
"This isn't school," said Manaia View School principal Leanne Otene.
"We are not going to keep to a timetable. We have been quite clear with our parents that they are the best judge of what works well for them in their home."
Parua Bay mum Stacey Smit has been juggling her eldest children's remote learning while also having a 3-year-old and newborn baby at home.
"I think today has really set in stone this is how school is going to be for the next wee while, and I'm a bit more stressed than I was before the school holidays.
"At the moment it's okay because my partner's home. When he goes back to work, I think it'll be a bit harder."
Her 11-year-old son Dylan and 6-year-old daughter Leah both attend Parua Bay School.
Leah has a learning pack provided by the school along with some online work, while Dylan's work is via Google Classroom.
"Dylan is quite into it. He's actually really enjoying it. He understands that this is going to be the new norm for school until things change. Whereas with the 6-year-old, we're still struggling because, for her, home time is home time," she said.
Smit said she had tried to keep the kids' routines similar to when they are going to school. The kids get ready for school as they normally would - get dressed, brush teeth, breakfast - and they have morning and afternoon tea.
"It's mainly for the 6-year-old to get her to realise it is a routine day," she said.
The Ministry of Education has also started rolling out, in waves, an extensive package which includes:
• Increasing the number of students who have internet access and devices.
• Delivering hard copy packs of materials for different year levels.
• Funding two television channels to broadcast education-related content – one for English medium and one for Māori medium, including content that is targeted to Pacific and other communities.
• More online resources for parents, available through the Learning from Home and Ki te Ao Mārama websites, and fast-tracking ways to connect Learning Support Coordinators with families remotely.
Methods of remote learning differ from school to school, some have set up Facebook groups and pages while others are using Google Classroom.
Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association president and Hora Hora Primary School principal Pat Newman said each team of teachers in his school had decided which remote learning methods to use, based on what would be best for their students.
"We have quite a large number of families without access to internet devices, we have other families who don't have access to the internet at all, we have some that only have access through their phones.
"What we're trying to do is low-key activities they can do at home - ones in particular where they can involve the whole whānau."
Meanwhile, Whangārei Boys' High School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith said the school was using Google Classroom and Google Hangouts - a communication software.
She said the school does want students to be doing some learning at home, but wanted parents to understand they can't replicate school in a home environment.
"At the end of the day, we recognise some students are living in some really challenging environments and, for some families in their bubble, this is not a priority.
"The day to day surviving, and concern about job loss and income - there's a bit of a pecking order and sitting down at a computer, for some families, is probably not the top of the priority list and we have to respect that."
Q&A WITH NORTHLAND PRINCIPALS
We asked Pat Newman, principal of Hora Hora Primary School (years 1-6), and Grant Burns, principal of Tauraroa Area School (years 1-13), about remote learning.
What advice do you have for parents?
Pat Newman: Parents, you are teachers - I'm not necessarily saying you're teachers of reading, writing and mathematics - but you are teaching your children the whole time about life.
When this is all over, what they're going to be able to talk about in 10, or 20, or 30 years time isn't about the activities school provided them. It'll be the fun time they've had working with their mums and dads and siblings - probably on a level they've never had a chance to do until now.
Grant Burns: There's three things. One is reading is so critical and I'd really be encouraging your children to be reading; secondly, do keep routines going - it makes sense if you can keep the routines of bedtimes and getting up, I would encourage focusing on school work in the morning and then you've got it done and dusted for the day; and thirdly, keep interested in what your kids are doing.
How do I motivate my teenage children to learn?
Grant Burns: That is a hard one. Just be interested in what's happening and aware of them and supporting kids to meet deadlines. I think that's really important.
Keep structure in the home routine - this is your study time, this is your study place, no distractions, and this is what you're working on today, and come 1pm, we call it a day for study.
Should I be worried about how lockdown will affect my children's learning; for example, if I'm only doing a couple of hours a day compared to a full school day?
Pat Newman: Not really. They will be learning stuff on a one-to-one basis with their parents which they won't get at school.
Grant Burns: It varies at different year levels. Worrying is a wasted emotion. But the main thing is to maintain those routines, keep encouraging your children. We're only human, we will have to make some changes. There will be some compromise. But we'll get through this.
I'm working from home too, what do I do?
Pat Newman: That's hard. That's why I'm saying, let's be realistic. The activities we have are so the kids will be occupied - the kids will be learning, no matter what - but it's not going to put a strain on all these other things that have to be done. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.