Parents turn into teachers overnight to help children cope with lessons

By , in Nation on .

By Rohana Nasrah

This third of a series of four articles on the implementation of home-based teaching and learning in Sabah focuses on parents who are helping with efforts to ensure the success of PdPR.

KOTA KINABALU (Bernama) – During the day, she worked as a nurse at a government clinic in Tuaran and at night she took on the role of teacher to her two young children.

Supervising her children’s schoolwork after a hard at work can be an exhausting affair but Zennenia Marcus, 33, is not complaining and is willing to sacrifice her time and energy to ensure her children aged seven and eight – who are in Year One and Year Two respectively – do not miss out on their lessons.  

Zennenia has been supervising her older daughter since last year following the enforcement of the Movement Control Order in March and subsequent implementation of home-based teaching and learning (PdPR).

And, starting Jan 20 this year when the 2021 school year kicked off, she has been monitoring her son as well who is in Year One.

Similar to the predicament of many other families, Zennenia only has one smartphone which, upon her return from work, her two children have to share to access their PdPR lessons. That hassle aside, they also have to contend with an unstable Internet connection.

Having to balance the demands of her career and monitoring her children’s PdPR sessions often leaves her feeling tired and confused but “I know I have to keep going since both my job and children’s education are important to me”.     


While her nursing skills are indisputable, Zenneniam – who found herself becoming a teacher overnight in March last year after schools were shut due to the MCO – is not so sure of her teaching abilities.

Nevertheless, she tries her best to help her children with their PdPR by explaining to them how to go about doing the assignments given to them by their teachers.


“I use the teaching and learning methods I was exposed to when I went to school. I know there are shortcomings in my approach as many changes have taken place over the years but it is not stopping me from fulfilling my responsibilities,” she told Bernama.

To make sure her children complete their schoolwork, Zennenia has set a timetable for them as she feels it is an important element to ensure the success of PdPR as well as to inculcate in them a sense of discipline and responsibility.

“I don’t want my children to lose their focus and motivation to study just because they don’t have their own electronic gadget. I make an effort to create a classroom atmosphere in the house when it’s time for their PdPR session to maintain their interest in their studies. I certainly don’t want them to be complacent and trail behind in their schoolwork,” she said.

After work each day, she would allocate two hours for her children to revise their lessons and complete their schoolwork under her guidance.

Saturday is their day of rest but on Sunday, Zennenia would conduct “classes” from 9 am to 11 am, and later from 2 pm to 4pm.

Zennenia also said that her children’s teachers understand when they do not complete their homework on time or sometimes submit it late at night as they (teachers) know they have to take turns using the smartphone.


Khairunnisa Islami Ambotola, 35, who is a lecturer in civil engineering at an institution of higher learning here, said the new normal era spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced parents to assume the responsibility of educating their children.

Her eldest daughter is in Year One this year and last year when she was in kindergarten, her teachers conducted PdPR sessions after the MCO was enforced.

“It was easy for me to handle her PdPR sessions last year as she was in kindergarten. I found the learning environment for pre-schoolers more relaxing and enjoyable but as she is in Year One now, she has to study various subjects,” said Khairunnisa.

She said the option for her to work from home made it easier for her to allocate time for her to do her own work and to monitor her daughter’s PdPR.  

“From morning till noon, I would supervise my daughter as per the PdPR schedule. After the session is over, I would focus on my work which also involves education,” she said, adding that she and her husband would take turns to go to the office so that one of them would be at home to monitor their daughter’s studies.


Nurarizan Nanta, 34, a teacher at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sung Siew in Sandakan, said apart from conducting online PdPR sessions for her own students, she also has to monitor her eldest daughter’s PdPR as she entered Year One this year.

“It’s challenging indeed to focus on our career and, at the same time, guide our children… but I’ve prepared myself emotionally, mentally and physically to ensure that I pay equal attention to both,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mohd Firdaus Sultan, 35, who teaches English and history at Sekolah Kebangsaan Sapagaya in Kinabatangan, said collaboration between teachers and parents is crucial to ensure the success of PdPR.

“It would be difficult to realise the objective of PdPR if there is no cooperation between us,” he said, adding that the involvement of parents in the PdPR sessions would enable them to keep track of their children’s cognitive development, as well as their commitment to completing their schoolwork.  

Mohd Firdaus also observed that parents were now more committed to ensuring the success of PdPR and that some of them in the B40 group have even been saving money to buy electronic devices such as tablets and laptops for their children.  

“The parents are also under a lot of pressure as they have to go out to earn a living for their families, as well as help their children with their studies.

“We (teachers and parents) need to understand each other. I’m confident PdPR will be a success if there is strong cooperation between the teachers and parents,” he added.

Translated by Rema Nambiar


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