Manisha with her three children, aged seven, nine and 11. (Credit: Hayley Durack Photography)

At first thought, the idea of e-learning evoked mixed emotions. I asked myself if I could possibly muster the level of energy and enthusiasm teachers have on a daily basis. The idea of waking up at 4am every morning to co-host “The Breakfast Huddle“, then coming home to assisting with mandarin or maths class was definitely, somewhat, challenging.  

Radio hosts are considered essential workers and as a result, we have continued to head into our studio at MoneyFM 89.3, every morning, to bring stories from Singapore and the World to our listeners everywhere. With the extension of recent circuit breakers, we’ve been doing our bit to exercise and encourage positivity but like everyone else, also face strict rules at work. That includes leaving by 9am, and that of course means, I am well placed to oversee the e-learning of my three children, aged 7, 9 and 11, during the day.

Growing in Wisdom

My children attend an International school where e-learning started at least three weeks before most local schools, thanks to the timing of the Easter holidays. Teething problems were ironed out in the first week, such as what happens when everyone attempts to log on to a learning platform at the same time. You can guess. The servers crashed on day one. By day two, however, we were up and running again with server support in far flung parts of the world. We couldn’t travel anywhere, but our data would be whizzing back and forth across countries, facilitating my children’s education, an incredible thought.

We couldn’t travel anywhere, but our data would be whizzing back and forth across countries, facilitating my children’s education.

Impressive parents, me not included, had thankfully taken snap shots of the work, or downloaded worksheets, before the servers crashed.  Witty and sharp, news spread quickly via whatsapp of the crash, leading to the most organised of the parents, sharing their smartly saved screen grabs with everyone else. That kind of parental camaraderie has been a soothing feature of this whole experience. Perhaps it’s a blessing that it went wrong on the first day. The lessons were: Check in the night before, print off as much as you can or screen grab, just in case the ship goes down.

Establishing Routines

While e-learning takes place at home, the mentality needs to be in school.  We endeavour to follow timetabled lesson times, snack breaks and lunch.  Occasionally, the edges do become a little blurry but in general, routine works for everyone. Apart from the studio, and like many other parents here, I work from home so having a shared understanding of “work time” is good for the whole family. 

My greatest joy in this whole journey is spending time with my children whilst they learn.

With those early starts at work, I have even found time to nap, usually when the children are caught up with long form writing or maths assignments. On which note, I have been reminded, thanks to this pseudo home schooling experience, that multiplying and dividing complex fractions isn’t really my thing.

Manisha hosts The Breakfast Huddle on Money FM 89.3 every weekday from 6am to 9am.

Building Connections

Which brings me to my greatest joy in this whole journey: Spending more time with my children. Having a front row seat to their learning, watching them onboard knowledge and gain understanding of complex subjects, is very fulfilling. Whilst I know this is a difficult time for many, from an economic and social standpoint, I can’t help but think we have an opportunity for a much deeper and meaningful connection with our families. We can find space to treasure this moment. If I have one worry, it’s around the isolation these youngsters must be feeling without their classmates and friends, but there are a multitude of social media platforms to compensate.  

Life is only as stressful or brisk as we make it.

Being at home together, whether e-learning, playing teaching assistant, or working from home, we are reminded that life is only as stressful or brisk as we make it. Every day we’re in the driving seat, deciding what we’ll work on, in an order that is natural and organic. There are no forced stops by the bell or benchmarks or peers against which to compare ourselves. Learning from home has been relaxed, enjoyable, engaging and so far, fun. As this stay at home situation continues, the only exponential curve I’m looking at, is that of my children’s life experience. We will look back and say we learned so much, most of which wasn’t even on the curriculum.

Text: Manisha Tank/MoneyFM 89.3