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Kitty: Juggling homeschooling with postgraduate study

After helping her teenage son settle into high school life in Adelaide, Kitty fell in love with the idea of studying here herself. She had no idea her move to study for her Master of Education at the University of Adelaide would coincide with the start of a global pandemic. We spoke to Kitty about what it’s been like juggling homeschooling two kids while keeping up with her studies.

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How did you come to be in Adelaide when the COVID-19 crisis began?

We came here in mid-January to be ready for the start of the school and university year.

I first came to Adelaide in 2019 when my son started at Pembroke School. My daughter and I accompanied him for the first term, and we began to love Adelaide. It’s really different from our home in Shanghai, which is a much bigger city. I really like the peaceful environment here. It’s a good place to focus on your studies.

I started to think about studying in Adelaide myself. I was a teacher for nearly 18 years, and I wanted to study for a master’s degree to help polish myself and make my career better in the future. I knew if I came to Adelaide for my study, I could also be here to support my son as he moves into his senior high school years.

Another reason we came here was for my daughter. When we were here last year, she was four and went to pre-school for a term. She really liked school life here, and now she’s in Reception at a lovely school near our home.

Having just moved to Adelaide, how did you feel as the pandemic grew?

At first, I felt a little worried. Especially after my husband went back to China for work in February. I’m on my own taking care of my two kids. I don’t have family here, so if we get sick, I have to take care of everyone.

Did you have your kids home for homeschooling?

Yes, as the cases grew more and more, I asked my daughter’s school if she could have leave to be at home. The school didn’t close, but they understood and said it was no problem. They prepared self-study materials for her to work on at home.

I also asked for my son to have leave from Pembroke, and just a few days later, the entire school went to online study for the rest of the term. So, all three of us were studying at home.

Tell us how you managed your studies with all three of you at home.

My son knew not to disturb me when I had online classes, and he was studying himself at the same time. My daughter would sometimes come to see what I was doing, but in most cases, if I was in a class, she didn’t disturb me too much.

I’d never taken an online class as a student, or given one as a teacher, so it was really new to me. Of course, in a face-to-face class, you can concentrate more as the interactions with your teachers and classmates are more vivid. But as online courses become more popular, I think it’s a good chance for me to get to know technologies like Zoom, which I’d never used before COVID-19.

I think next semester we may have some online classes combined with some face-to-face courses, which I think will be a good way to study. Being on campus will help me feel more like a university student, and I can get to know my classmates. But for the sake of health, I think being online for some classes is better.

How did you find support during the lockdown restrictions?

The University of Adelaide supported us very well as we went online. They delayed the due date for our mid-term assignments. I had finished, but it was nice of them to think of us and take care of us.

The Writing Centre kept up with their online system where we can submit our assignments for help with checking punctuation and grammar. They get back to you within 24 hours, and they still did this during the pandemic. It has helped me learn better writing habits.

I also got a health package from the Chinese Consulate in Adelaide, which had masks, anti-bacterial wipes and some Chinese medicine. I felt really supported by this care from China.

How do you feel about being in Adelaide during the pandemic?

I think South Australia has done an excellent job of managing COVID-19. I was a little scared and worried at first, but now I can see it’s really safe to live and study here.

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