Alice Cooper, you prophetic bastard. Though school may not be out forever, it certainly feels that way right now, with months of domestic b…(editor, what’s the opposite of ‘bliss’?) stretching ahead of us. For those with teenagers, the magnitude of this may not have set in yet.
Parents will need to find a way to juggle their workload, keep a happy household running, as well as provide home schooling, entertainment and childcare for their kids. Is this David Cameron’s vision for a big society being realised? Idiot. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lighten the load just a little during this tough time. With that in mind, we’ve teamed up with Nicola Anderson, Head of Customer Support at leading online tutoring service MyTutor, to bring you these; our 6 IDEAL tips on homeschooling, entertaining and staying sane with teenagers during a lockdown.
MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR CHILD HAVE A DESIGNATED SPACE TO WORK
Set up a desk in a quiet corner of the house where your child can keep their laptop, textbooks and notes – they’ll find it much easier to focus and the rest of the family can continue life as normal around them. As schools would normally provide things like flashcards, exercise books and planners, it may be worth preparing some creative stimuli in order to keep them interested and occupied. Such a designated space with the usual equipment will proceedings with a sense of normality; much needed for effective work during this tough time. The same goes for you and setting up your IDEAL home office space!
SET GOOD HABITS AROUND PHONE USE AND HAVE HONEST CONVERSATIONS
Teens spend a lot of time on apps speaking with their friends anyway – and isolation will only increase their desire to communicate socially when in lockdown. That’s fine and to an extent should be encouraged. While some communication will be positive for their mental health, the opposite is true when social media is overused, fueling feelings of isolation, anxiety and FOMO. You’ll need to set some ground rules for how – and how often – phones are used during the day and make sure to have honest conversations with them about their mood and outlook. Encourage that openness and a safe space to talk.
ORGANISE YOUR DAY
Without the structure of a work or school day, and without the engagement of peers, motivation and energy can take a nosedive. Create a timetable that’ll work for both you and your child, covering their subjects and your own workload, too. Everyone needs a little routine here to stop days sliding into Netflix binges and endless app scrolling, so divide up periods of work and study with active breaks. Make sure that you and your child keep active, go outside, eat meals together at the appropriate times and have offline conversations with your actual voices.
HAVE SOME GO-TO RESOURCES LINED UP
You’re likely to run into situations where your child doesn’t understand some of their course content and you’re unable to help. When this occurs, having some resources ready is wise. Look up the specifications for the subjects your child is studying from the relevant exam boards and bookmark any online resources that can help you out. Save My Exams and S-cool are two handy sites for this. Though it might be tempting, don’t try to blag your way through homeschooling if you don’t have all the answers. ‘Fess up, and endeavour to find solutions together.
LOOK FOR ONLINE SUPPORT
Self-study is an incredibly hard skill to master and secondary school pupils may struggle without someone actively explaining concepts to them. If you feel unable to help your child study while also dealing with your own workload, it’s worth considering an online tutor (who may well be in need to work during this tough time, too) who can help your child fill in any gaps in their knowledge.
Online lessons are like having a face-to-face skype call with a tutor but with an interactive whiteboard on the screen too, so students can upload documents and make notes. A tutor can keep students on track with the syllabus and give them a much-needed boost of confidence in what is a confusing and challenging time.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
If you have to homeschool your child, don’t panic. We’re more set-up than ever before to manage a situation like this. Remember, lots of parents (about 50,000!) choose to homeschool their kids regardless of Coronavirus. What is important is to look out for signs that your child isn’t coping mentally with a home set-up or the drastic change in their everyday routine. Despondency and withdrawal or anger and higher-than-usual levels of irritability can all point to stress. There are lots of great services you can call on for support such as Kooth and YoungMinds. Don’t do this thing alone!