How we can support children and teenagers during home-schooling
Whilst we’ve largely adjusted to working from home (lunchtime walks being our lifeline) and have Zoom pre-meeting small talk down to a fine art. For teenagers – who have once again had to adapt to on-screen learning this last month – these are truly trying times. Not only have they had to move to learning via laptop and contend with cancelled exams, but with their social lives replaced by FaceTime, their friendships are also taking a big hit.
If you want to help them navigate these changes, but aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help. From how to create a calm study space to serving up nutritious snacks and establishing an effective regime, here’s how to get through the next few months of at-home education…
Mealtimes, downtime, studying, work – you name it, chances are, it’s currently happening at home. With all of our daily activities occurring within the same four walls, it’s important to create physical and literal boundaries between home and “work” – especially for your teenagers.
Rather than wfb (working from bed) or on the sofa, encourage them to create a home-schooling study spot that puts their posture and productivity first. Whether that’s a designated desk in their bedroom or “their seat” at the dining table. Here are our top tips:
It’s all about atmosphere
Does your teen miss the buzz of the classroom or do they prefer to study in solitude? Have a chat about how they work best and set up their spot to suit. Perhaps they’d be better off being in the kitchen as they miss the hum of conversation or if they’re the type that has to work in silence, why not create a nook in the corner of your living room? Settle on the environment that’ll encourage them to be studious and then take the time to transform it into a home-schooling haven. Fun stationary, a desk lamp and other accessories (think cushions, a blanket, pictures of their friends, their own mug) will make it a space where they want to study and participate in their online lessons.
Keep supplies close by
Spending time looking for paper, pens and pencils can cut into their lessons. Instead, keep all of their supplies in one spot so they’re on-hand before class. Study their schedule together the night before and encourage them to get organised before bed.
If it’s P.E first thing, that might mean laying it out on their bedroom chair or if it’s art class, gathering their pots and paints the night before so there’s no scurrying around the house looking for equipment. Prepping ahead of time will mean they can focus on the task at hand – learning and make school days much less stressful for them – and you.
Pay attention to posture
Ideally, the desk or table they work at will be waist-height, they’ll be able to rest their elbows on it and their feet will be comfortably flat on the floor. After all, comfort is key when there are already countless distractions.
If the chair feels too low, pop a cushion underneath them and roll a blanket to support their back. The screen should be at least 18 inches away and encourage regular screen breaks to keep their eyes feeling fresh.
After ten months of working from home, we all know how the lines between work and play have begun to blur. It’s no different for your teenagers who are studying and socialising in the same space – we all need to reset our regimes.
Establishing a schedule can ensure their concentration levels stay elevated when it’s easy to shut down the laptop and pick up their phone. Encourage them to get up at the same time every day, go for a walk around the block (during the time they’d usually be travelling to school), shower at the same time every day, eat breakfast and get dressed. Allow them time to chat to their friends as ‘virtual form time’ before registration begins.
This also means keeping studying within school hours and aiming to all log off once the day is done. Once the school day’s finished, with real-life extra curriculars off the itinerary, you might want to recreate these yourselves. Whether that’s cooking, an exercise session with Joe Wicks online, a bike ride to the shops or encouraging them to get into painting with watercolours, think of fun ways to signal the school day is done. With a finish line in sight and something to look forward to at the end of their (virtual) lessons, concentrating and focussing will feel easier.
With no commute or school run, lockdown has given us back several hours of the day, but with it, the way we socialise has shifted. Without morning break and lunchtimes, face-to-face interaction for our teens is limited to virtual calls and catch-ups. While meeting up in their friendship circles is currently not possible, there’s no reason why they can’t WhatsApp Call or Zoom their classmates and catch-up.
Yes, you’ll likely want to limit screen time – particularly as they’ll have spent hours on their devices all day – but it’s important when their social lives have been severely impacted to encourage them to develop social skills. And yes, right now, WhatsApp counts. Perhaps sit down together and work out a timetable that isn’t all work, work, work. Pencil in FaceTime slots, exercise, out-of-school activities like reading and long walks so that there is structure but it’s not all focused on studying.
With the kitchen close by at all times, your teenager might be tempted to graze all day, but high-sugar foods are a proven energy drain1 and might chip away at their concentration. Instead of stocking the cupboards with crisps, fill the fridge with healthy and delicious snacks. Carrot sticks and houmous take mere minutes to whip up whilst yoghurt blended with fresh fruit and chia seeds makes a nutritious early-morning smoothie.
To encourage healthy eating, you could create snack boxes with each child or teenager’s names on them, filled with all of their treats for the day – such as breadsticks, houmous, sliced apple, muesli bars as well as a few much-needed naughty treats such as a homemade cookie or brownie. This avoids any hungry teenagers lurking who might be attempting to empty your cupboards.
You don’t have to take treats entirely off the menu but it’s worth trying to establish a routine. Eating well, cooking at home and encouraging them to drink plenty of water will all help to starve off the mood swings and anxiety that can come with lockdown and no longer being in close proximity with their core friendship group.
If you’ve noticed they’re struggling to focus, the soon-to-launch Olivanna Wellness Exam & Study Multivitamins have been specially designed to help support home-schooling and study. Designed to help support energy levels during intense periods of study, they contain pantothenic acid (B5) to help improve memory retention and are suitable for children 7 years + as well as teenagers. Launching later this month, sign up to our newsletter for exclusive early access.
The next few months are going to be taxing for our teenagers. Whether they’re struggling with being away from their friends or finding that concentration isn’t coming easy right now, it’s a huge adjustment for both you and them. Balance is the key to helping them navigate home-schooling – a schedule that makes time for socialising, healthy and nutritious snacks, encouraging a school timeline routine and creating a relaxing workspace can go a long way to making this situation feel a little more normal.
If you have any other home-schooling tips, we’d love to hear from you. Email or tag us @olivannalondon.
Team Olivanna x