By Olivia Martin, Yipiyap
Lockdown is really hard on teenagers: being isolated from friends while trying to homeschool during some of the most important years of education.
I know, as I’m a teenager myself – and a tutor. I deferred university to join Yipiyap and support secondary students in their schooling. I’ve spent the last 12 months creating and managing online programmes with learners who are just a few years younger than me.
It means I can see things from the point of view of the pupils and the parents, so here are some top tips for both parties that might help the process go more smoothly…
The challenges here are keeping motivated, feeling disconnected, getting overwhelmed by the workload, and worrying that you are getting things wrong.
- Keep in touch with friends – daily if possible – just to see how they are getting on and have a general chat or moan. Phone calls and Facetime will be better than Whatsapp or Snapchat, so you can hear each other’s voices.
- Make lists of things you would like to do with your spare time that aren’t on screens, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. That’s time to bake a cake, have a quick bike ride or try something new like juggling or skipping.
- Have short breaks every hour and change subjects. It gives you a little breather and provides time to look at things from different angles.
- Change it up! Sit in a quiet space away from your desk, share a table with your working parents or siblings as opposed to in your bedroom all the time and change your clothes (not PJs – you need to be comfortable, but you do need to get dressed).
- Don’t be embarrassed to ask someone for help, whether it’s for work or just a chat about your feelings. This is a difficult time for everyone; people will understand. Don’t rush your work. There’s plenty of time!
Parents and carers
It’s hard to oversee a young person doing online learning – the lack of a physical teacher’s presence really does have an impact, and most parents have their own work to juggle. The work being provided is more general, meaning parents may worry that it is not at the right level, but the key is to try not to get stressed.
- Stay patient – with certain topics, you may know different methods to the ones your teens are being taught, which can make it difficult to teach and help. Thanks to the internet, there will be videos online to steer you on the basics if needed – do approach the teacher if things are not clear; they will be able to help.
- Incorporate the young person’s interests if possible: if someone is enjoying something and feeling relaxed, they will learn it more effectively. Encourage a pleasant atmosphere; perhaps have music on in the background (as long as it’s not too distracting).
- Consider asking the teacher for a range of resources based at different levels – many schools do this already, and it’s very helpful for self-confidence.
- Plan things together in the morning over breakfast, and then allow the young person to have independence while letting them know that you, and their teacher, are on hand for support.
- Ask other parents who are providing similar support for their ideas: what have they found the most useful, and do they have discussions about topics to start engagement or change between subjects? If the students have a similar approach to each other, it can help them feel connected even though they are apart.
Good luck! If all else fails, time away from the screen with a book is not time wasted – it’s learning and relaxing at the same time. Add a cup of tea and a biscuit, and it’s even better!
To learn more about Yipiyap, click here.
Olivia Martin, Tutor for Yipiyap