Welcome to the Chelmsford Creatives blog! Each week we will be showcasing creative projects produced by local young people, sharing how we are keeping ourselves busy during social distancing or reflecting on past successes.
By Claudia Wickham
The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in more than a third of the world’s population experiencing lockdown, meaning more of us are working and studying from home than ever before. Most people will be new to this way of working or learning, and probably didn’t have much time to prepare for it.
I’ve been home-studying for almost four years, and though I now can’t imagine learning in any other way, I initially struggled to motivate myself. Many people will be facing similar difficulties, except now the usual distractions are coupled with a constant flow of breaking news updates. If you’re one of those people, some advice from my own experience might help your adjustment to home-working or learning. Or maybe you are just interested in how home education is different from a regular schooling experience, and the benefits it can offer. Either way, I hope this blog helps you stay productive whilst working from home.
Dealing with distractions
- Remove them altogether
It might sound obvious, but a simple solution is to simply remove anything which might hinder your concentration on a single task. Try putting your phone out of sight, giving it to someone else, or turning off the TV.
- Schedule your distractions
Working or learning from home means you have the advantage of planning when and how you study. Make sure you schedule yourself plenty of breaks, when you can catch up on social media or the news. Try not to overwork yourself as this can make it tough to complete work in the long run, and won’t help your concentration.
- Create a comfortable environment
Find a comfy, calm place to do your work, and try to sit at a table or desk instead of on the sofa. If you get restless or irritated sitting in one spot all day, change it up a bit.
- Get creative
Studying something which you find interesting will help keep you motivated, but if that’s not possible try and make your method of study more entertaining. I create colourful notes, watch YouTube videos or relevant documentaries, challenge myself with flashcards, or get my family involved in a quiz.
- Be flexible
I’m currently studying three A-Level subjects, and I like to spend a whole day on one topic, rather than completing one hour of a subject at a time. I get much more work done this way and understand the content better.
- Create a routine
It helps to have a routine you can stick to, but don’t punish yourself if you don’t follow it religiously. Something I do everyday is take my dog for a walk, the fresh air clears my head and gives me energy.
- Reward yourself
Reward yourself with plenty of breaks and the occasional treat. Taking a five minute break every hour will help you maintain a productive streak as you’ll have something to work towards. If I complete an assignment from my tutor quicker than normal, I often reward myself with an episode of Stranger Things, or two.
What is it like being ‘homeschooled’?
- What is socialising like?
There is a misconception that all ‘homeschooled’ students must be antisocial recluses – and this is simply not true. Home-learning has provided me with many opportunities for socialising, through volunteering and clubs, which I would have struggled to juggle alongside traditional schooling.
- But don’t you get lonely?
Being involved in something in your community such as a committee, volunteering group, or even speaking regularly with your neighbours is a great way to stay connected. I also have a large family, which means I’m rarely alone.
- You must spend A LOT of time at home
Being a part of local groups and volunteering opportunities , like Chelmsford Creatives, provides me with the time to meet new people and gain close friends, whilst learning valuable life skills and professional experiences. Since I’m not making the journey to school or college, I stay active everyday by taking my dog for a walk, doing a yoga class or going on a run.
- Don’t you just watch Netflix all day though?
There are elements of uncertainty and sometimes it is hard to find the motivation. However, home-education has allowed me to cater to my abilities and strengths as well as providing more time to pursue ambitions, hobbies, sports, jobs and whatever else I enjoy, in ways that traditional schooling couldn’t. For me, studying from home has proved to be a freeing experience.
A Day in the Life
Being ‘homeschooled’ can be as different or as similar to an average school as you like. I typically stick to a schedule of starting my studies at 9 AM and finishing at around 3 PM (with plenty of breaks in between). Although I do have a schedule put in place, if I feel like I’d rather bake a cake than sit through another hour of Shakespeare I would because, with the variety home-studying brings, I can just do it later or another day.
I am naturally an ‘early bird’, so my day begins at around 6:30am. Most mornings I like to do a quick home-workout to set my day off to a good start. After getting ready for the day I’ll go and make myself breakfast (coffee is a must), and get settled in to start learning. I study in my bedroom where my desk, PC, and studying materials are located. After each hour or so, I’ll take a quick five-minute break if I feel like I need it.
At around 11 am, I’ll go for a brisk walk with my Lurcher Phoebe, who keeps me company whilst I study. After another few hours of working, it’s finally lunch time. In the warmer months I like to eat outside in the garden.
Morning is my most productive time of day, so after lunch I stick to more relaxed and creative methods of learning. This might be reading, drawing, rewriting my notes and adding colour to them or watching a film my subject tutors have recommended. Sometimes I’ll practice yoga around 2 pm, either on my own or with my Mum. If I feel I have met my goals, I’ll let myself have a rest by finishing a little early. Otherwise, I’ll usually wrap up my school day around 3pm.
Although I don’t do ‘homework’ (which is another advantage of home-studying), if I have an assignment coming up I’ll use part of my evening to revise for that. After eating dinner with my family, I’ll spend the remainder of my evening doing things I enjoy like baking, watching movies or netflix, reading, creative writing, listening to music, experimenting with makeup, hairstyling and fashion, or if I’m feeling adventurous I’ll organise my closet.
I hope you were able to gain some insight into the life of a home educator. Despite the uncertain times it is important to stay healthy and to continue studying and learning. Doing these things at home can be tough, but with the right mindset and attitude – you can do anything.