As someone who spent some of my leaving cert year learning from home, and who frequently uses distance learning in college, here are some of my top tips to help you do the best you can, whether you’re in first year in secondary school, a college student or anywhere in between!
It can be really difficult to suddenly have to change how and where you’re learning, both logistically and emotionally. I remember the first week I ever “homeschooled” came with both short notice and a VERY overwhelming list of school work/assignments. If you’re in a similar boat to the one I was in, it can be difficult, but it’s so important to remember to keep calm! I usually break down any and all work that I need to do into a to-do list for each day at the start of the week, and stick to the list as I go.
Create a school-like environment
Home-schooling isn’t as laid back and chilled out as some Pinterest posts make it out to be (at least, not in my experience!). A critical element to making your learning from home experience work, is creating a school like environment at home. For me, this means picking a space in the house that I know won’t be filled with distractions (that isn’t my bed or ideally isn’t my bedroom), starting and finishing at the same times school or college would start or finish (even when I’d much rather have a lie-in), and following the same timetable I’d be following if I were in school. Just the act of moving to a space that I’ve designated to do schoolwork helps to keep me motivated, and using the timetable helps me stay on top of my workload.
Limit your distractions (and excuses!)
When you’re in a classroom, it’s harder to get distracted compared to when your kitchen is your classroom. Before I start working, I actually pack a “schoolbag” and make sure everything that I’m going to need for my next 2 hour slot is within arm’s reach, and my phone is not included in it. This both limits the opportunities for me to make excuses that I “just need to grab something upstairs” and for me to get distracted when I see that I have a snapchat from someone!
Don’t stop your hobbies
Ok, so maybe with the spread of COVID19, this one might be a little bit harder than usual if your hobbies include interacting with other people, but when you’re learning from home, it can sometimes start to get difficult to separate your home life from your school/college life. I always found that continuing with my hobbies in my free time (in spaces other than my study space) helped combat that confusion.
I always find that when I’m using distance learning, self-care looks very different than when I’m in class physically. When I’m in class physically each day, I take somewhere between 12,000 and 18,000 steps, leave the house at 8:15 and might not get back until after 7pm, so putting on pajamas and watching Netflix is Self-Care. But when I’m learning from home, self-care looks more like forcing myself to get dressed in the morning (unfortunately pyjamas don’t encourage productivity), and setting reminders to remind me to drink water and get fresh air (even if it’s just opening a window). When your routine changes, typically so does your level of daily activity, the amount of food and water you need and the amount of fresh air you get. As such, your methods of self-care might need to change too, and that’s ok.
So there you have it, my top 5 tips for learning from home. All that said, you know you best, so if you can think of other ideas to make this less than ideal situation easier for you, by all means try them too! Just like classroom based learning, home learning environments shouldn’t be a “one-size” fits all approach, but hopefully these tips will help you stay on the right track!