HBL challenging but parents understand the need for caution

Some parents pointed out that home-based learning could be stressful for parents and children.
Some parents pointed out that home-based learning could be stressful for parents and children.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Home-based learning (HBL) has been challenging for parents - especially those juggling busy work schedules.

But they understand the need for caution in the Ministry of Education's (MOE) move to progressively allow students back to school after the June holidays.

MOE had announced the move on Monday, adding that the aim is to keep students and staff safe from Covid-19.

From June 28, when Term 3 begins, Primary 1 to 3 pupils will continue with a week of HBL. They will return to school on Tuesday, July 6, as Monday is a school holiday. Secondary 1 and 2 students will also be on HBL for three days till June 30, and return to school on Thursday, July 1.

Students in Primary 4 to 6, Secondary 3 to 5, junior colleges and the Millennia Institute will return to school on June 28.

Parents The Straits Times spoke to yesterday welcomed the move, though some noted that there could be challenges that could be stressful for parents and children.

Mrs Joanna Tan, 41, feels the staggered return is a good way to reassure parents of their children's safety. "Younger children tend to get excited to see their friends on the first day back at school (which could lead to them not keeping to safe distancing measures)," she said.

Having one week of HBL could help them to adjust to returning to school without such risks, said the housewife, who has a son in Primary 6 and a daughter in Primary 2.

But another parent, Ms Carmen Li, 38, said HBL can be challenging and has "added extra stress to both parent and child".

She has an intense work schedule, she said, and it has been difficult to rush her own work while giving her Primary 3 daughter attention or technical support when needed.

Ms Li said she hopes schools can suggest a self-directed timetable for children beyond school to support parents in dealing with their children's social needs and fight boredom.

Mr Elgin Teng, 39, whose daughter is in Primary 1, said he was not surprised to hear of the move, given the trend in community cases and how the end of the June holidays was approaching.

The homework load is not too heavy in Primary 1, but the challenge is when the work is done and his daughter starts to seek parental attention, Mr Teng, a learning and development consultant, added.

"The school is a valuable place for every child to grow in their social awareness, relationship management and face-to-face interactions... A shorter HBL might be healthier as a child's well-being needs to be extended into the space of physical interactions and also parents' space for mental rest."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2021, with the headline 'HBL challenging but parents understand the need for caution'. Subscribe