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School’s out, exams cancelled: Seven top tips for teen home-schooling

As the pandemic has again forced schools to close and GCSE and A Levels have been cancelled, teens will continue their studies from home for the foreseeable. 

But thousands now lack face-to-face contact and support from their teachers and the quality and access to education has again been put under threat by the pandemic. The cancellation of exams also means that there will likely be a larger emphasis on classwork when it comes to assessment. Consequently, additional support to learning has never felt more vital. 

Over 6 million British parents agree that their child’s motivation to work has declined with the rise of Covid – and almost 3 million state that they have witnessed a decline in their child’s education progression.

The damaging impact of school closures on pupils is reflected in nationally representative research from leading ed-tech platform MyTutor, so to help best prepare your teen for learning at home CEO of MyTutor, Bertie Hubbard, has shared his top 7 tips:

1.       First things first – set up a space

The first thing to organise is a desk in a quiet corner of the house. Here your teen 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. Also, schools normally provide things like flashcards, exercise books and planners, so be ready to supply these yourself if necessary.

2.      Contact their teachers

Your teen’s teacher should be their first port of call to find out what they should be learning in the next couple of weeks. Schools have different ways of communicating with their pupils and parents, so whether it’s email, Google classroom or a schools app, make sure you and your teen keep an eye out. Your teen can also contact teachers themselves to let them know any queries or worries they have with a specific subject or topic.

3.      Keep healthy screen and social media habits

Teens spend a lot of time on apps speaking with their friends anyway – and isolation will only increase their desire to communicate socially. While some communication will be positive for their mental health, the opposite is true when social media fuels feelings of isolation and anxiety. You’ll need to set some ground rules for how phones are used during the day, and keep an eye on your child’s mood.

4.      Help them structure their days

Without the structure of the school day, and without the engagement of peers, motivation and energy can take a dive. Help your child set up a timetable that’ll work for them and covers the subjects they need. Divide up periods of study with active breaks. Make sure your child moves, goes outside, eats meals at the appropriate times and has offline conversations.

5.       Find some online learning resources

You’re likely to run into situations where your child doesn’t understand some of their course content and you’re unable to help. In these situations, having some resources ready is wise. Look up the subject specifications for the exam boards your child is studying and bookmark any online resources that can help you out. We have lots of free online study resources for kids to use – 10,000 answers for GCSE, A Level and IB questions to be precise! Save My Exams and S-cool are also great resources for marking schemes and past papers.

6.       Keep an extra eye on their mental health

We all know this has been a challenging past 9 months for teens and parents, and it’s as important as ever to look out for signs that your child is struggling with their mental health. Despondency and withdrawal or anger and higher-than-usual levels of irritability can all point to stress. Make sure they make plenty of time to relax and unwind each day, and leave time each day to have a chat and check in with how they’re feeling. There are also lots of great services you can call on for support such as Kooth and YoungMinds.

7.       Find personalised support

Self-study is an incredibly hard skill to master and secondary school pupils may struggle without someone actively explaining concepts to them. It’s worth finding an online tutor who can help your child fill in any gaps in their knowledge. At MyTutor we offer one-to-one tuition at GCSEA Level and IB. Our handpicked tutors give personalised learning in over 40 subjects including online english lessonsonline maths lessons and online science lessons. It really works too, and we see on average a whole grade’s improvement in 12 lessons.

Pic by @anniespratt

Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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