One of the joys of being 70 and a grandparent is time spent with family and children. While Victoria’s COVID lockdowns have made that much harder, some grandparents are staying in touch and helping out the family during lockdowns, thanks to technology.
Technology helps grandparents take up new COVID roles
Grandparents provide care for nearly one-third of children with working parents. In Victoria, during COVID, they’re also helping with home schooling, thanks to new educational platforms.
Schools have needed to develop remote learning programs to replace lost class time during COVID lockdowns. The problem is that the demands of remote learning are a significant burden for parents working from home, and the emotional wellbeing of children can suffer.
That’s why grandparents are adding to their usual weekly care activities with home schooling classes. The result: parents have support, children have another much-loved ‘teacher’, and grandparents learn new skills.
Kaye Burke is a proud grandma and occasional home tutor for Jessie. Kaye lives nearby her grandchildren, Jessie, 6 and Sammy, 4. An active 70-year-old, Kaye says she is lucky to be able to spend time with her grandchildren.
‘They grow up so quickly. Time spent with them now is precious and rewarding.
‘COVID has had a serious impact on families financially and emotionally and it’s great to be able to assist with care,’ Kaye says.
In Kaye’s time at primary school, it was Vana exercise books with multiplication tables on the back. But Jessie, who is in first grade at her local primary school, is as comfortable using laptops and iPads as she is with pencils and paper.
Jessie’s remote learning days start at 9.00 am and include online reading, writing, maths and language classes via computer or tablet at the kitchen table. She also works on assignments and projects offline with her grandma.
‘The technology is amazing in its ability to have students working on subjects with teachers and classmates while sitting at home. I’ve had no trouble adapting. I’m also learning new digital skills.’
‘When you’re 70, it’s easy to lose confidence about your ability to keep on learning. You need to be positive about the use and advantages of new technology. Although, reading a printed book together or drawing with a pencil on paper is still a wonderful way to learn!’, Kaye says.
It is not just schools that are using technology to enable remote learning. Local councils are helping grandparents use both old and new ways to teach children. Most councils offer access, via library cards, to online book and video libraries that can be used by grandparents and children for reading and writing together. Apps such as Overdrive eBook and Story Box Library include access to picture books and early reader titles. Kanopy Kids provides access to online films and picture books. Some councils are using YouTube to show films of local library staff reading picture books, which can be watched by grandparents and children together.
Being 70 and a grandparent can provide the time and technology to be actively involved in children’s schooling.