When Covid-19 became a global pandemic in March, Malaysia opted for a movement control order (MCO) to break the chain. Daily activities were limited, and schools were closed. Recently, it was announced that Malaysian schools will reopen in phases, starting on June 24, for students taking public examinations.
Every cloud has a silver lining
During the movement control order (MCO) periods since March, schools have found creative ways to continue and help students with their studies.
Through technologies like Google Classroom, Google Meet, Zoom or WhatsApp, the teaching and learning process managed to continue despite the difficulties.
On the other hand, parents have an extra role to play during the lockdown period — being a part-time teacher. As teachers continue to give homeworks to students on a daily basis, parents in turn play the role of a teacher at home.
Mother of two boys, Adeline Sim said that while the lockdown had given her a chance to bond with her sons, the 32-year-old admitted that she experienced difficulties when helping her younger son in his kindergarten work.
“It is quite challenging for me to ask my four-year-old to sit tight and listen to his teacher on Google Meet.” She also experienced a similar situation with the elder one, having to make him finish his schoolwork and at the same time juggles her daily chores.
On the bright side, the experience had given her the opportunity to learn new computer skills. She also became a part-time tutor, photographer, TikTok dancer for her sons while being a full-time housewife.
As for 44-year-old fitness trainer Deborah Chong, the lockdown had positively impacted her relationship with her son. On normal school days, she disclosed that she would only get to spend time with her son starting at 5pm after his tuition classes.
However, during the lockdown, she had the opportunity to bond with him, “I got to undertand him better, about his weaknesses in certain subjects. So throughout the MCO period, i have been helping him to work out on those weaknesses.” She fears that he could not keep up with the subjects as online tutoring can only go so far, “but to properly guide him is another challenge for me.”
Fortunately, Deborah said that her son’s tuition teacher was willing to provide extra online assistance to help improve his studies with no extra charges. Deborah had also taken the initiative to learn more about the school subjects in order to guide him.
Aside from that, this ‘long school holiday’ also helped Deborah to help build her son’s immune system as he was suffering from lung infection since he was a baby. “Since he did not need to wake up early, he can have a good sleep routine.” Deborah also ensures that he regularly takes his fish oil, supplements and vitamins.
Before the MCO, Deborah has always regularly prepare healthy meals for her son. However, during the MCO, her son has been eating more times a day. Hence, she revealed that he has put on a reasonable amount of weight. This too helped him build his immune system.
When asked if she would go through another lockdown again, she said she would if necessary, “but going through it again will definitely be a lot easier than the first round.” Deborah said that generally, people will have to learn how to adapt the change in order to be effective, efficient and creative.
Missing her morning kopitiam sessions, mother-of-four Stephanie Goh shared that in-between cooking and house chores, she had to help her two younger sons with their home learning.
The 49-year-old said that since she is not a teacher by profession, she finds it hard to teach her two junior boys. “Teaching mathematics and language can be challenging, even more so to my second youngest who is autistic. So having his teacher guiding me via Zoom really helps.” She also faced a daunting task with the youngest turning into ‘Mr No’ when it comes to schoolwork.
Stephanie revealed that her boys’ schedule has gone haywire. “They would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, and wake up by noon.” But with ample time on their hands, Stephanie would draw them away from their gadgets for a little fun with arts, crafts, board games, baking or gardening.
The two-month plus lockdown made Stephanie realised that health and family were the most important assets. A silver lining from the lockdown is that it kept everyone at home, enjoying homecooked meals together, bonding with one another.
Echoing the same sentiments, 41-year-old Cynthia Jee also struggled between her daily routine and homeschooling her two sons, one of whom is autistic. According to her, the elder one with special needs receives daily taks on Google classroom from his school teachers, while the Kuching Autistic Association also gave him weekly assignments through Whatsapp.
Meanwhile, her younger son has nine Google classroom subjects with his school, one with his English tuition teacher, and online tuition for Bahasa Malaysia, Mathematics and Mandarin. Nonetheless, she said that she was blessed as her sons were able to work on their studies independently.
Cynthia explained that the lockdown experience for her and the children was easy as the kids understood what was going on, and that they could not visit the mall. She also said that her children enjoyed the lockdown as they could spend more time together.
The only the difficulty that Cynthia and her husband went through during the initial MCO was printing the materials for her sons. “Initially, my autistic son had to copy all the work as our printer ran out of ink. But once we were able to purchase the ink, it became easier.”
As Malaysia is entering the recovery movement control order (RMCO), Cynthia now works on a daily basis, while her husband works in rotation.
Nevertheless, the MCO had provide quality time for the family, “We were able to know and understand each other better and work on ways to improve ourselves.” The couple also managed to teach their sons daily living skills such as baking, cooking, cleaning the house, washing their dishes, and doing laundry during the period.