Return of home learning brings more hurdles for NCEA students

Home learning is underway once again with parents and children trying to get their work done under one roof.

Last week's COVID-19 lockdown announcement came after the school bell, catching many out, with secondary schools already in talks about changes for NCEA.

Nicola Austin and her husband Richard have intermediate and secondary school-aged children.

"My biggest fear probably is Finlay is level 1 NCEA this year and it's getting close to exam times, and things that should have been handed in won't be," Nicola says.

"You need a lot more self-motivation to actually push yourself through it which isn't there at school because they're telling you what to do," Finlay explains.

Primary school-aged children are more work for the parents but it's the NCEA students that face the biggest hurdles, especially given Auckland students are already in week four of a lockdown for 2021.

"We're all starting to plan for what do we do about preliminary exams: do we move them? Do we change the way we look? We're having conversations with NZQA about whether we push back the start time for external exams like we did last year," says Vaughan Couillault, from the Secondary Principals' Association.

And the playing field isn't even for all schools and communities.

"There's always disadvantage and when disadvantage descends on a community it doesn't do so evenly so schools are working hard," Couillault says.

The swift move into lockdown has come with both mental and physical challenges. Some children's devices were left at school and some schools weren't prepared.

Parenting experts say some families will be thriving in lockdown and others will be barely surviving - but the main thing is to keep a connection with the kids.

"The main thing is just to have realistic expectations of yourself and realistic expectations of your kids, it's a hard time and if you're feeling a bit stressed a bit emotional, that's totally OK," says The Parenting Place chief executive David Atkinson.

No one yet knows how long the remote learning this time will last, so the first test is one of patience.