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          THE COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt brought incredible challenges to the education sector all over the world. Shifting from face-to-face classes to completely distance learning has thrust the parents and secondary caregivers to the forefront of the educational system. To prepare them adapt to their new roles as coaches or facilitators of learning at home the Department of Education scheduled a series of Pre – Opening Activities (PSOA) not just for teachers and students but also for the parents. The PSOA for parents was conducted virtually via Google Meet on September 25, 2020, a few days away from the opening of classes on October 5, 2021. Out of 2, 092 students who are enrolled in Col. E. De Leon Elementary School this School Year 2020 – 2021, only 1, 062 parents were able to attend PSOA which is roughly 51% of the total enrollment.  Despite the great effort of the teachers to persuade parents to join the online training and the ample technical support given to them like tutorials on creating Google account and joining Google Meet, inevitable problems cropped up like slow internet connectivity,  unavailability of smart phones, financial constraints and conflict with their work schedules.

           The main objective of this activity is to support families in transitioning from children’s learning in school to home. Teachers with the guidance of everyone involved in the planning for the new normal in education have been working tremendously to make home learning possible. They know one vital thing that will ensure success to distance learning is how well the parents and other care givers adapt to their new role as facilitators of learning at home. To ensure that parents are equipped with the necessary skills on helping their children, DEPED has prepared a series of activities specific for preparing them on the task at hand. The teachers and parents are at the core of these trainings. These are all embodied in the Pre – School Opening Activities. Majority of the teaching force are skeptical about the new set-up more so the parents who will be adopting new roles as front liners in education on top of trying to balance their own responsibilities as home makers and bread winners. 

   According to the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA) and the result of the October 2020 Labor Force Survey, Reference Number 2020-386 released last December 3, 2020, the employment situation as of  October 2020 are as follows: For population of 15 years old and over there is a total of 72, 603 Filipinos who belong to this group. The employment rate of this group is 95.4%, underemployment is 12.8% and unemployment rate is only 4.6%. Based on the statistics majority of Filipinos aged 15 and above are working. This is where the problem comes in. How will parents juggle having a regular job and homeschooling their children?

It is now the teacher’s responsibility to empower parents by teaching them strategies on how to facilitate distance learning to allay their fears, develop confidence and walk with them through the transition. Here are some useful and helpful suggestions for parents to kick off their new role as front liners in education and navigate their way through the process. First, provide parents with background knowledge and information. Apart from one-on-one tutorial, there is the Learning Plan that is given to parents. Second is, help them establish routines and expectations. A flexible daily schedule of learning is plotted. It is up to them to revise it according to their families’ needs. Third, provide specific task to accomplish and the deadline. Fourth, encourage them to have a conducive learning area at home. Fifth, establish a means of communication to the teacher and the time convenient for them to be contacted. Sixth and the most important one is  to help students “own” their learning because education is a two-way process. Provide support and encouragement but the children must do their part.

   Parents as front liners in education may be a daunting task at first. It will not be easy, but with the Department of Education and its vast workforce joined by the local government units supporting the opening of School Year 2020-2021 nothing is impossible. It is through the teachers working hand in hand with parents that learning continuity will be achieved. Col. E. De Leon Elementary School is calling the parents of the 2,092 children enrolled in this school and shout #ONE CEDLES! Education for All! No one must be left behind!

–  Lucille T. Mendez