Hunter Students Help Younger Siblings Transition to Remote Learning

Some Hunter students are taking on a bigger workload than their peers by helping their younger siblings transition to remote learning.

Elizabeth Perez, an English major at Hunter College, sacrificed some of her education for her youngest sister. “I usually end up sitting right next to her. When she’s in her class, I’m in my lecture, and sometimes I miss out on vital information because I have to help her with hers.”

Out of Perez’s siblings, one is starting high school and one is finishing high school. She expresses how she isn’t really worried about the older one but is more so concerned about the youngest.

Now that all education must be done online as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic, there is a lot of adjustment for younger students in a time with a lot of uncertainty.  

Remote Learning
Image Credit: TimeOut Magazine

“Not only is she transitioning from in-class to online, but she is in the transition from middle to high school. The teaching style is completely different. It’s hard to adapt for her to adapt to that when classes are virtual,” Perez declared.

Sixty-five percent of first-generation students are enrolled full time compared to the 75% of continuing-generation students, according to a study done by NASPA and The Suder Foundation in 2018. The lower average may be due to the fact that the role of a first-generation student comes with a lot more burden.

As a first-generation American, Perez is expected to help out a lot because her parents do not understand English and she is more proficient in that type of technology. She helped to set up the classroom login and made sure her sister understood the material. All this on top of her own full load of five classes this semester and her own adjustment to online learning.

The Department of Education’s recent decision to ban certain online video conferencing systems added another layer of stress to Perez’s life. Zoom made it easier for her sister, who was very active vocally, to communicate with her teacher. 

The role of the teacher/sibling is a little easier for Damien Brown since he and his little brother play a lot of video games together. His little brother does not know how to put away the video games and not mix school and playtime, however. While his mother is away as a nurse, Brown, a Hunter computer science major, feels as if it is his responsibility to make sure his brother is focused and doing his assignments.

“I went from being just a student and a big brother to a teacher and an authoritative figure,” Brown said. “The good thing is I break down the work as if it is video games and he seems to comprehend. I feel like he’s learning better one-on-one.”

Damien also states how it’s taking a toll on him. “I feel like I’m more so focusing on his schoolwork than mine. I have to now catch up on assignments that I’ve missed.”

However, not everyone is stressing out about the together time. Amanda Delancy, a student at Hunter College, enjoys spending extra time with her 6-year-old sister.

She takes what her sister learns in class that day and applies it to their everyday lives. Delancy reveals how helping her out with her homework allows her to spend the time she never had with her. “I get to spend quality time with her. I was lacking on my big sister duties.”

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