Lull in fight for aid to distance-ed kids

Raelene HallMidwest Times
Children join a protest to keep School of the Air open, at Kalgoorlie last year. Now, because of COVID-19 restrictions, many more students are learning outside the traditional classroom.
Camera IconChildren join a protest to keep School of the Air open, at Kalgoorlie last year. Now, because of COVID-19 restrictions, many more students are learning outside the traditional classroom. Credit: Mary Meagher/Kalgoorlie Miner

OPINION

I smile when seeing the stream of information, videos, webinars and more to support students and parents now having to do school from home.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s fantastic there is so much support for everyone, but I just wonder where it was/is for those who rely on distance education all the time and have long been seeking similar support and assistance.

Distance education is nothing new to Australia. It’s been around since 1910 and undergone many changes in that time. From totally mail-based educational papers to schools of air, using HF radios for voice lessons with the teacher many, many miles away, to today when we use computers and have a range of options available via technology.

In the 20 years I spent as a home tutor to my three children on School of the Air there was never a time when we weren’t having to fight for the essentials for our children’s educational needs.

Whether it was another channel on the HF radio, more bandwidth when we switched to computer-based lessons, material home tutors could actually teach, or support for home tutors and gifted children or those with special needs.

At times, we felt like we were banging our heads against a brick wall, that no one was listening. We were a small minority and, while we knew how vital our children’s education was, authority didn’t seem to place the same importance on their education as those in a traditional classroom.

Suddenly, Covid-19 appears and, within weeks, there is extra bandwidth for everyone on satellite internet, regardless of whether you are teaching children or not.

The internet is full of educators offering free advice, lessons and mentoring for those now teaching children at home.

One TV channel is going to broadcast educational programs for most of the day to assist and support those now educating children at home.

It’s a brilliant idea yet will it remain once this crisis is over?

Not only is there an incredible amount of support to help with teaching children but there is support for those doing the teaching.

Suggestions of how to keep calm, what to do when it all gets too much and what your children might be experiencing, mentally and emotionally.

When normality returns and the majority of students return to their classrooms, please spare a thought for those parents with no choice but to continue teaching their kids.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails