2 – Home Learning – the new normal

Dear Quaran-teens,

Week two of lockdown.

I’ve done a lot of gardening and a lot of school work. It’s been great to hear from all my GCSE students and a fair few others. It’s pretty clear that trying to replicate the school day, whilst initially a good idea to establish routine in the midst of uncertainty, is not a long-term solution. Factor in the inevitable uncertainty about what happens now about calculating your grades (for Year 11 and 13) or exactly when you’ll be back at school (for everyone else) and it’s nigh on impossible. If I’ve taught you anything, it’s that too much screen-time is never a good thing, a little bit of what makes you happy is essential and that a teacher’s role is to light the touch paper whilst you fan the flames. With all that in mind, here are a few thoughts on how to handle the next few weeks, ace your independent learning journey and keep yourself and your families sane.

  1. Routine is important but make it flexible. So replicating the school timetable is a step too far, especially if you have intermittent internet connectivity and a shared pc, a number of siblings, parents who work from home and limited space. What you can do is get up at around the same time every day (trust me on this one!), create your own weekly timetable taking account of work that must be done, household chores, time to relax and be creative and time to catch up with friends or grandparents. Work in blocks, which could be moved around if circumstances change. When else are you going to be in charge of your own time? Step up to the challenge. Be proactive. Your parents will be delighted.
  2. Set manageable goals. These can be small but if you know what you want to achieve by the end of the day, you are likely to achieve it. Start with making your bed. If you can’t do that, how are you going to change the world?
  3. Teach yourself something then apply what you’ve learnt to your school work. When was the last time you wanted to get better at something? Learning to play the guitar, completing a Rubik’s cube in less than 30 seconds, sculpting a six-pack – whatever it was, you probably practised day after day, hour after hour. Back in the day I was a champion hoolahooper. Hours of surreptitious work after dark in my bedroom and popping down to the park with friends to hone my technique long before the days of YouTube videos. That’s the kind of behaviour to apply to your studies. Try to identify one area where you want to improve and apply the same strategy to that. Take some time every day to devote to improving in this one area.
  4. Stay connected One of the most challenging aspects of studying from home is feeling isolated. Keep in touch with your friends, classmates and teachers. Share the experience, ask questions, compare notes, divide up tasks between you and share the load.
  5. Be creative Creativity is one of the most underrated skills fostered in schools. These lockdown days are the perfect opportunity to right that wrong. Make something – it could be art, music, writing, cooking. Whatever it is, it’s good for you. Here’s why.

Until you know more about how teacher assessment is going to work for GCSE and A Level grades keep doing the work set by your teachers. If you are in other years at school, don’t forget to make a distinction between weeks when you would have been on Easter vacation and those when you would have been at school. Everybody needs a holiday but a permanent holiday is no good thing. Balance is everything.

Keep in touch.

Mrs S

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