And so the lockdown begins to feel oddly normal, and our Teen Home Learning routine is becoming rapidly ordinary and mundane.
Which is a good thing – we’re adaptable creatures, and with some super-human effort and organisation skills, our schools and teachers have worked oout systems to make this new lockdown work.
But it’s weird, and hard, and really a lot of effort. Some teens are good at it, but a lot are not – and is there anything you as a mere parent can do to help?
Well yes, there is actually.
I’ve been homedicauting for eight years – in that time my small crew of four gre big – my three boys are now 22, 19 and 18. My youngest is 14, and reaping the benefits of all those lessons I learned walking her brothers through their Teen Home Learning,
1: Make A Plan Together
The school will set a timetable, but there are other commitments. Discuss the time they’ll get up: if they prefer to roll out of bed 10minutes before lessons begin, then let them. Pick your battles, and a teen who is about to spend their day alone with the laptop is not going to leap out of bed with joy.
Also talk about more nebulous issues – discuss what is reaosnable to expect in terms of focus and attention. Whether they need to be left alone, or would appreciate some interruptions with a snack.
Most important of all, talk about communication – how it’s okay to admit if they’re having a bad day, if their brain is simply looking at the screen whilst internally screaming “not today, sir”. And that you’ll be open withb them, and express your concerns if you feel that things are not getting done. They also need to be encouraged to communicate with their teachers; Zoom teaching a bunch of GCSE students is hard. They won’t have their cameras on, they won’t chat – my teacher friends declare it’s often like teaching into a reactionless void!
Now’s a good opportunity to chat about what their end goal is too. Some teenagers start to have a pretty good idea about what they wantt o do with thier adult lives – but others feel lost and don’t have a clue. Let them know that either way is okay, there’s plenty of time, But if they have a goal, help them figure out the best path to it, it’s a great motivator.
2: Create a Workspace
It’s not easy with everyone at home, I know. But if you don’t have space for a desk in their room, then just a tiny little space which is ‘theirs’, can help. A small table in their bedroom, the space under the stairs, simply an uninterrupted timetabled use of the kitchen table.
We’re all more productive when we’re in a work zone – teens are no different.
Make sure they have what they need – you’r eprobably all set up after a year of this, but if they’re STILL coming to you to ask to borrow the scissors, then maybe you shouold just get them a pair of their own?
3: Have A Routine
Everybody’s routine is going to be different – don’t fight it to do what you think should work; simply work with your teen to settle on something that works for you both. The key thing is sticking to it. If they agree to be up by 9, at 8.55 start playing opera loudly, or vacuuming their bedroom. Be mean, and get ’em up.
But if you agree 9, then don’t start that at 7.
And don’t fill their whole day with work. The spaces between are just as important. Snacks, a walk outside, a hot drink, making dinner together, simply alone downtime with their phone – they’re all essential parts of a teen’s life, and should be equally weighted with the Maths.
4: Try Different Resources
Your school is working hard to provide the resourcesa nd lessons your teen needs. But if something’s not working for your child, you are allowed to change things up.
There’s no secret that we’re fans of ICSLearn for distance exam-learning for our permanently home educated teens – maybe switching up the learning system and trying a new method, being autonomous (so for example they could stay in bed til 11, but work from 12 to 6, perhaps) can breathe magic into a teens study commitment. There are real tutors, but a less pressured self-governed environment that simply works for some families.
Also remember there’s an entire library of YouTube educational videos, created by teachers for specific subjects. If you need a kickstart on ‘An Inspector Calls‘, quadratic equations, or cell structure, YouTube is probably your first port of call
Be kind to the teachers, and be kind yto your kids. It’s new, and it’s hard. Solid 6hrs screen time is far more exhausting than a full day in a school classroom. Read the room, and know when to simply cut your teen some slack.
6: Check In With Their Teachers
Be sure that you communicate with your kids teachers as well as encouraging your teen to do so. You want to know if there are any areas for concern, and also if they’re doing a good job of simply showing up.
(Be nice – tell the teacher they’re doing a good job too. They don’t hear it often enough)
7: Remember the Fun Stuff
I’ve found it’s easy to get stuck into a lockdown rut, where the days mesh into each other, and you all trip along in an easy groove.
Book yourself some treats, and plan things together. Whether it’s an afternoon walk (it should be – get outside every day, no matter what the weather is doing), a family movie night (don’t forget the un expected snacks), or a surprise gift of new bedding for their room. Do nice stuff for each other. It helps.
In other news, if you’re living with an exam-year student, you may appreciate our annually-revived ‘What NOT to say to your revising teen‘ post, or