As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the world and the educational landscape, it’s important to make sure that students are set up and prepared for learning at home. Learning at home presents some unique challenges and opportunities. This guide should help you minimize stress and maximize your efforts as a student.
As an IB student, whether you attend IB schools or elsewhere in the world, you know that specific approaches to learning help you develop your communication, thinking, social, self-management, and research skills better. Here are some tips to help you with at-home learning:
Set up your workspace
Effective self-management means setting aside some time to set yourself up for success. It’s crucial to create a comfortable and productive workspace in order to truly succeed. The best workspace is one that is organized and quiet with all of your materials at the ready, including your pens, pencils, notebooks, textbooks, charger, laptop, devices, paper, and calculator. You might have a specific desk in your bedroom where you work or you might be sharing a corner in another room. If you are using a shared space, see if you can set up a space that feels semi-permanent. For example, is there a desk or table that you can claim for the time being? A place where you can keep your own supplies, books, and calendar? Creating your own space will help minimize the time you spend every day gathering what you need for your learning process. Staying organized can help prevent careless errors or missed assignments and help you feel more mentally ordered. Make sure to free yourself from any distractions in your workspace. Try not to have the television or radio playing, and free yourself from your mobile phone. If you are in a noisy shared space with others, make sure to use headphones to drown out the noise, but don’t listen to any music with words, since that can also be distracting. If you are using your phone to work, then make sure to turn off notifications.
Get comfortable with video conferencing software
Your teachers might be using some form of video conferencing for instruction and live discussions. Find out which platform they are using and familiarise yourself with the software, how it works, and how you can communicate effectively. Conduct a practice session beforehand to make sure that all of your hardware, including your microphone and camera, are working properly and to troubleshoot any issues before class. Each and every program has different capabilities and options for things like raising your hand to ask a question. Make sure that your microphone is muted when you enter class unless you are speaking. Keep in mind that what you are doing on screen is visible to others, so try to stay in one place while you are signed in. Make sure to dress appropriately and sit somewhere with a background and surroundings that are not distracting to your peers.
Create an organizational system
If you don’t already have a calendar or agenda, we recommend getting one to use as a self-management tool during times when your schedule is new or changeable. Create a daily and weekly calendar or simply write one out for yourself, including things like a morning checklist of sites and emails you need to check before beginning work to figure out what is on the agenda for the day, regularly scheduled virtual class meetings, your teachers’ virtual office hours, assignment due dates and scheduled time for breaks, meals, exercise and rest. Keeping a detailed schedule and sharing it with people in your household is important, especially for students with domestic duties like childcare, cooking, and cleaning.
Each and every student has different demands on their time, different home situations, different learning styles, and different needs. But it helps when you set a schedule and stick to a routine. Research shows that maintaining a stable schedule during the school week promotes mental well-being, productivity, and time management. Take some time to research these studies. Then figure out a daily schedule that works for you and your home situation. Wake up and go to bed at the same times each and every day, and eat regular meals and eat as healthily as you can. Go outside for fresh air and sunshine every day if you are able. Taking a short socially distant walk around the block can give you a mood boost, clear your head, refresh you, and give you a break. Set specific times for signing into your email and online classrooms, as well as times for completing your work. If you have extra time during your schoolwork portion of the day, then use it to do something brainy, like reading a good book, creating art, researching careers, networking for jobs, working on your IB Extended Essay, taking practice exams, and more.
SUMMARY: Need help to learn at home during the pandemic? During this guide, we provide IB approaches to learning at home for students.