Young people who would normally be at school are now doing their best to keep up with lessons at home. We asked two teenagers how they’re coping with distance learning and have put together some tips on how to study and keep up with schoolwork on lockdown.
“The biggest challenge about being at home is finding the motivation to do the work. Basically, my brain is on holiday,” says Thomas Grumberg, who’s in his first year of A’ Levels.
“It’s partly because we’ve been told we’re probably not going back to school until September. It’s very strange.”
Milo Baker is in the first year of his GSCEs and also finding it a challenge. “The hardest thing about working from home is not getting distracted,” he says.
He would rather go to school. “There are teachers at school, who help you out and explain things. There’s a better atmosphere at school. You can get more focused more easily, because everyone’s focused on work."
So what can you do to help you study successfully at home?
1. Make a study plan
Your plan may follow your school timetable, or you might prefer to create something new. Whatever you decide your plan should help you learn and really concentrate on the task in hand.
Right now, Thomas is working through revision of what was covered in class. “But I’m also putting together a planner with a certain amount of time set aside for each subject each day.”
If you move between subjects, rather than focusing on just one over a long period of time, you will find it easier to stay interested.
Set aside 45 minutes for each topic, but do that topic thoroughly and test yourself. Think of this as an opportunity to do the sort of individualised learning that is not always possible at school.
Milo’s tip for not getting distracted is to “leave your phone in another room!”
And make the most of the resources your teachers are sending you from school.
“Our teachers have definitely given us enough online resources,” says Thomas. “Apart from the subjects that need time in a lab, like chemistry, it is very easy to access any amount of resource.”
2. Get into a daily routine
Think of this time as an opportunity to control your own routine and plan your days – not just around schoolwork, but also to include exercise, socialising and downtime.
Get up at the same time each day, have breakfast, get dressed – even though you may not need to. Stop for your lunch break. And work out when and how you’re going to exercise, socialise and rest.
This will keep you focused and help you maintain a sense of purpose and control.
Managing your own schedule is empowering. You’ll see that you can plan and use your time well without supervision. When you apply for a job in the future, employers will be interested to hear about how you learnt to structure your time.
3. Look after your health
Be active every day.
If you can, work in one designated place like your bedroom or at the kitchen table, and relax in another.
Thomas highlights the importance of exercise. “The weather is making it hard to concentrate. I want to get out and move around, not be stuck at a desk.”
Under government guidelines, you’re still allowed to exercise outdoors as long as you stay two metres away from people who don’t live with you. That means you can go for a walk, a run, or a cycle ride.
If your family is self-isolating, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home.
4. Keep in touch with friends
Thomas lives close to his school, and to most of his friends. He normally spends a lot of time with them in the evening and at weekends.
“I won’t see them for at least a month, which is a really long time,” he says.
Thanks to technology, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch. WhatsApp groups are a good idea – not just for socialising, but for catching up with friends about the things you’d discuss at school, like homework.
Then there’s Houseparty – a free app that lets you have a group chat and allows you to play games. Remember, if you’re using Houseparty it’s really important to lock your chatroom and choose private settings to stop people you don’t know joining a video chat.
5. Stay positive
Remember there are some good things about being at home.
“It’s very relaxing,” says Thomas. “The main advantage is that you’re very chilled.”
“The best thing is lunch,” says Milo, “and you can get a drink whenever you want.”
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