Let’s be honest: school closure is probably something every child has dreamed about. The odd snow day is often met with exhilarated cheers. But when all schools are forced to close for the foreseeable future, teaching is exclusively online and most parents also have to work from home, it’s a different story altogether.
Some children might be excited about not having to go to school, but that excitement can quickly turn into boredom – particularly when they can’t even meet up with friends. It’s no easier for parents; many worry that their children simply aren’t doing enough, and are at a loss as to how to help. Here are five ideas to help you get through this, making sure that all-important learning is maintained.
1. Get as close to a routine as you can, but don’t overthink it
Many well-intentioned parents have devised a timetable for their children, and although this is a great idea, it rarely works in practice. A more effective way to get back some structure is to set daily, achievable goals. It doesn’t really matter when those things get done in the day – just make sure they get done. If children start to feel overwhelmed by a task, break it down into smaller steps. How do you eat an elephant? In chunks!
2. Keep physically active
Fresh air and exercise do wonders for the brain. Make the most your daily walk, especially as the weather is (finally!) starting to improve. If you’re used to more intense exercise, why not do a PE class with Joe Wicks, or one of the countless other workout videos on YouTube? There’s no excuse not to move!
3. Work out your learning style
You might have been spending your whole school career writing copious colour-coded revision notes…only to find that none of it stuck in your brain. Before you beat yourself up, consider this: would you have remembered more if you’d listened to a podcast, drawn pictures, or even acted it out? If you haven’t done so already, find out what your learning style is here. Work smarter, not necessarily longer!
4. Don’t just rely on school resources
Schools are transitioning to teaching online, but the process is – understandably – slow and difficult. In most cases, a ‘lesson’ is now just an assignment. Equally, many students are now having to teach themselves, particularly those who were halfway through learning a module. Some of the best resources you can use in the absence of regular teaching come from exam board websites themselves. So if a Year 10 is learning GCSE History under AQA, for example, type ‘GCSE History AQA’ into Google. Under ‘Teaching Resources’ you’ll get tabs saying ‘Plan’, ‘Teach’ and ‘Assess’. The ‘Teach’ tab will have a whole host of useful web links. These have been pre-approved by the exam board itself, which saves you trawling through the Internet for resources on a topic you might know nothing about. You can do this for any subject, and don’t forget to go on other useful websites like Seneca Learning and GCSE Bitesize.
5. Get a tutor!
Perhaps I’m biased, but online tutoring truly is a fantastic way to make up for the lack of interaction students are experiencing now that their lessons are digital. Nothing beats face-to-face learning, encouraging smiles and a good chat, and we’re lucky that we have so much technology at our disposal. My lessons over Skype have been really effective: I can engage with students, share my screen to show resources like images, PowerPoints and videos, and, most importantly, have a great laugh. Your brain will work better when you’re relaxed, happy and entertained, and the right tutor will ensure that your learning experience is as fun as it is productive.
These are unprecedented times and everybody is going to need to adjust, but don’t panic: parents and children alike can use this period wisely, productively and, most importantly, imaginatively. These ideas will help you to do just that, and I’d encourage parents and children to do as many of these as you can together. Keep your mind and your body active, and remember: this too shall pass!