It seems like everyday, more and more schools are deciding to go virtual in the fall. As much as schools would like to remain open and hold in-person classes, it’s important to consider what’s best for the health and safety of both the students and the educators involved. This means that a lot of schools are switching over to online classes. A lot of schools made this transition in the spring and faced many challenges with the technology of it and coordinating everything. But did you face challenges at home too?
Transitioning from traditional, in-person, learning to online learning is not easy. Some things that appeal to many about online classes are actually challenges to others. For example, a lot would think that the increased flexibility in your schedule would be a positive to making the switch. While being able to do your work when you want to and from the comfort of your own home may sound appealing, it often leads to a loss of routine and increased procrastination.
- Take advantage of the resources and help available
This is something that I can not stress enough! This is a difficult time and making the move to online classes is not always an easy adjustment. There will be resources made available to you through your school to make virtual learning easier – use them! If your school offers online tutor sessions, instructional videos, the assigned texts, a calendar to download to help keep your schedule organized, or anything else that is offered, use it. Worst case scenario, you give it a shot and decide you don’t need it. Best case, the tools make learning become easier and you can use them for the remainder of your education.
If you have any questions or something is unclear in class, make sure you ask for help. Even with virtual classes there are ways to “raise your hand” and ask questions. When you’re not in person, it is often harder for your educators to see if you understand the content. In person they can read your facial expressions easier and see either the understanding or confusion. When holding class virtually it is harder to track facial expressions and engagement.
I used to never want to ask a question in class because I was worried that it would be a stupid question. But over time I have learned that if I have a question, chances are, at least one other person in the room has the same question. It not only helps you, but it helps your peers for you to ask questions in class. This is more important than ever with online classes because virtual learning is not something you’re used to yet. Your educators are your most useful resource.
- Set a daily routine
When you’re learning from home it can be easy to lose your sense of routine. For a more productive school day it is important to maintain as much of a regular schedule as you can. Shower and get dressed like you usually would in the morning. Schedule out time for class, study time, meals, breaks, socializing with friends, family time and self-care.
Keeping a routine not only helps you to stay productive, but it will help to maintain a sense of normal when it seems like so much is changing due to the pandemic. According to Northwestern Medicine, a routine can help improve stress levels, sleep, and overall health. Just because classes and work can be done from home and with more flexibility, it doesn’t mean you need to change everything about your schedule.
- Create a learning space
One thing that I struggled with when I took my first few online classes was paying attention. When you’re at home you are surrounded by distractions and it is easy to let your mind wander. It is important that you create a space that you are able to learn in. This space could be your bedroom, an office, the basement, the kitchen table, or really anywhere you can go that’s quiet with minimal distractions.
For me, I made a learning space in my bedroom that I would sit in to attend virtual classes. I moved a comfy chair into my room and set up an automan in front of it. With a large family I ran into the issue of interruptions like my parents or siblings opening my door and coming to talk to me during class times. An easy solution for this was me posting a sign on my door with my scheduled class times on it so that interruptions could be limited. This is what I found worked best for me, but your space can be anyplace you feel productive.
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
Sleep is more important than many realize when it comes to productivity and learning. According to the CDC, when adolescents and children don’t get enough sleep they run a higher risk of poor mental health and problems with attention and behavior. Especially when working and learning from home, it’s easy to say “i’ll do it later”, then later comes, and what could’ve been done hours ago turns into another late night. When you’re not well rested it becomes harder to retain information and focus in class.
- Get active
Remember to get active! When you’re spending so much time at home it is easy to stay inside and lose the daily activity you once had in your routine. I like to make small goals for myself that help me keep exercise a part of my week. I try to get 30 minutes of continuous exercise at least 3 times a week. I’m not in the best shape, but I go on walks a lot and have even started getting back into running shape with a trick using music. I started by running one song then walking one and alternating until I went my desired distance. Then maybe next week you run two songs and walk one. Pretty soon you’re running the whole distance! I just ran two miles without stopping for the first time in 3 years using this system. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety too.
- Limit screen time
I know that with virtual classes it is harder than ever to limit screen time but it is important to give your eyes a break. Setting aside time dedicated to reading, art, sports, cooking, exercise or something screen free will make a world of a difference. If it is too hard to limit your screen time then take advantage of the blue light filter that most devices have. It is often called “night shift/mode” and takes some of the blue light out of the screen. This makes it easier on your eyes and helps prevent headaches due to too much screen time.
- Stay positive. You’ve got this!
Most importantly, keep a positive attitude because you’ve got this! Remember that your education is important but that your mental health is more important. If you are stressed out or confused about something, ask for help. Think about your health and make an effort to get good sleep, stay active, and make time for self-care. I believe in you, LifeTech Academy believes in you, YOU CAN DO THIS!