With schooling potentially moving to online or remote learning, your school is probably providing amazing communication about what is expected to happen and what you’ll need.
Here’s our take on how you can get ready for some distance learning.
- Create a study space
You’re going to need a space in the house where you can really knuckle down, focus and get your work done.
So, consider the things you’re going to need:
- Located in a quiet area that’ll allow you to concentrate on your tasks, (whether it’s in your room or another area in the house)
- Comfortable chair
- Learning device (you’ll also need access to power points and internet connection). If you don’t have a device or internet access at home, contact your school, they will most likely have a plan in place to help students in your position too.
- Good lighting, natural if possible. Natural light is more stimulating and better for your mental health than artificial light, but if it’s not an option in your space just do the best you can.
- Remove distractions or face your desk away from them – classroom studies have shown that minimising things on the walls, removing temptation from view (so hide your phone or novel that’s hard to put down) can help students stay focused.
- Desk tips
Having a great study space all set up won’t be any use if you can never get to your desk because it’s covered in or surrounded by clutter and you never use it, so here’s our ideas for organising your workspace.
- Make it comfortable – not so comfortable you’d like to curl up and go to sleep, but you don’t want neck strain or sore wrists creating new challenges.
Using a makeshift desk for now? You could put books under the legs to raise it up or put your monitor up on a step if it makes it easier to use.
The best desk height should allow your forearms to rest on the desk at a 90-degree angle and allow you to keep your back straight (a rough guide is that it’s between your waist and ribcage when you’re sitting down).
Position your screen more than 30cm from your face to avoid eye strain.
- Have a stationery holder to contain all your pens, highlighters etc. Don’t have one? That’s OK, improvise using a mug, glass, or Tupperware container.
- Only keep study materials on your desk – so leave your games, phone, book, laundry etc somewhere else.
- If your desk doesn’t have draws, find a box to slide underneath or that fits down beside it, store your textbooks and materials in it to help you keep your desk top clear of mess and help you stay focused. Don’t think you have anything suitable? Ask if you can use a spare laundry basket or get creative.
- As mentioned before, lighting is really important. Natural light is best, otherwise a good overhead light and using a desk lamp to throw some light on your work are great alternatives. Good lighting could reduce the likelihood of headaches and eye strain and could help you to stay focused and more energised.
- Stick to a routine
Although you might not be at school, it could really help you stay on track if you stick to a week-day routine and establish a study schedule that’ll keep you on track.
Here’s an example of what your daily routine could look like – insert your own times and customise it to suit your routine.
- Set your alarm & get up when you usually would
- Get showered, dressed, eat breakfast – stick to your usual routine
- Maybe take some time to get some exercise
- Check your Check eDiary, school email and Online Learning Platforms each morning and afternoon (Monday to Friday) for updates, communication, information on courses, resources and assessment
- Start work
- Include break time’s and lunch times in your schedule
- Set an end time to finish your learning
- Help with cooking dinner, cleaning up around home, or have a bit of free time
- Eat dinner with the whole family if possible, discuss your day and decide what you’ll be doing tomorrow
- Spend a little time doing “home-work” – finish up assignments, reading or note taking from your day.
- Relax and wind down – you could watch TV, read a book, listen to music, catch up with friends and family, exercise or try some relaxation techniques e.g. meditation, yoga.
- Remember to go to bed at a reasonable time, so you can get plenty of sleep and get back to home learning the next day.
- Scheduling your work
Your school and teachers will be working hard to put together an online learning plan for you. Each school’s will most likely look a little different, but if you haven’t got one or you haven’t been given specific instructions; here’s how you could put together a schedule that’ll suit you.
At the start of each week:
- Check what material you’ve been sent from school
- Break down the information you’ve been given for the day or week by making a note / document / spreadsheet to keep track of what you need to do
- Insert any online lessons or meetings with your teacher that have been scheduled (you might like to pop these in your calendar or set reminders for these too)
- Go through each subject separately and:
- Highlight the learning intentions for the week (what are the expectations or study goals)
- Jot down any links and resources you’ll need
- Plan the time you think you’ll need to complete each task (think how long your lessons usually are and add a bit more on)
- Put deadlines for assessment and other submissions into your calendar or reminders too and make sure you get work sent off in time
- If you’re not given a daily or weekly schedule, you get to decide which tasks you’d like to tick off first and which order you’d like to work on everything else
- Stick to your study schedule every weekday. Leave your evenings and weekends for vegging out and having sleep-ins etc.
Taking the time to create a work schedule that’ll help you to achieve all of your study goals might take a little time in itself the first few times, that’s OK, you’ll get faster at doing it each time.
Creating a schedule and saving it could also help you keep track of what you’ve been doing so you can accurately report back to your school.
- Take regular timed breaks
Just like when you’re at school, scheduling in regular breaks to your study routine is important.
Taking breaks could help you stay focused over longer periods of time, help you retain information better, maintain performance, reduce stress, and keep on track.
Time your breaks, otherwise it’s easy to get side-tracked and distracted.
Use your break times to get your drinks and snacks, have a bit of exercise or fresh air, use the bathroom if you have to. Catch up on social media, check in with friends and family to see how they’re going.
Don’t be tempted to skip breaks, extend breaks. You could surprise yourself with what you’ve achieved at the end of each day.
- Keep notes organised
Having a dedicated workspace or study zone and keeping your desk tidy could help you keep track of all your notes.
- put all your notes for one subject in a separate folder
- clip them together, or
- use post-its mark-up sections of a note pad for each subject
If you’re making notes on your computer, you could:
- create a separate folder for each subject
- remember to give each set of notes a different title, that could just be the date
- insert relevant links to online resources
Adding the date to any notes you write or create could help you organise them and track them down when you need them later on.
However, you choose to make and keep your notes, having a plan in mind to organise them before you start, could save you time and stress down the track.
- Email or ask if you need help
Being away from your school or cohort doesn’t mean you have to struggle.
Your teacher and school will provide contact details for them, so use them. They won’t be angry or annoyed to hear from you, they’ll want to help you out.
If you can’t reach anybody, ask your parents or friends, try googling online and working it out for yourself. Failing that – put aside your task, move on to the next one and come back to the bit you’re stuck on later.
Just do your best
Everyone is learning how to adapt at the moment, things will get easier.