How Can We Guide Our Children To Thrive During The Pandemic?
In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, almost everything in our society has changed. The majority of these societal shifts are focussed around individual isolation and the implications of this. One of the largest consequences has been the gradual closure of schools around the country, and the ensuing necessity of students to learn from home.
For many, this is a daunting proposition. Without the rigid guidance of schools, students are at risk of losing motivation, organisation and productivity. Parents are not well placed to help adjust to this new paradigm, as the world has shifted greatly since their time in high school. Similarly, schools themselves are struggling to provide the online resources for a seamless transition towards independent learning. In this time, students need to learn how to think for themselves, take initiative and control the outcome of their own learning. This is not just for the benefit of scholastic achievement, but also to ensure that young Australians can emerge into the world as educated and well-rounded citizens.
Fortunately, all hope is not lost. When assembling and editing Catch Up with Top Achievers, a one-of-a-kind HSC study guide written by students, for students, I learnt a lot of tips as to how to succeed without the support network of school. Many, if not all of the student authors (who all ranked in the top ten in the state for their chosen subjects), stress the importance of learning independently and taking control of your own academic and social destiny.
Learn to love learning
The first, and most important tip, is simple — learn to love learning. For many, this seems like a ridiculous proposition. “How can I love learning?” I hear you say. Indeed, I remember sitting in period 5, playing flappy bird as the teacher mindlessly droned on about similes and metaphors and hyperbole, wondering what the relevance of it all was to the outside world. However, as the student authors so adeptly point out, the relevance of such lessons is actually all around us. The way that the world responds to crises such as this one is artistic, political, economic and even mathematical. Your school subjects are lenses for gazing into different paradigms: past, present and future. Love learning, for learning is how you can grow to understand and interact with the world around you.
Secondly — be organised. In the days of isolation, it is easy to wake up at midday and drift mindlessly into a Netflix and Playstation binge. Before you know it, the day is over and you have achieved nothing. By creating a specific to-do list the night before, as well as a plan for the weeks to come, you incentivise yourself to achieve certain goals and escape the potential to languish in mediocrity. This plan should not be too specific. Many of the students found that by setting out every aspect of their day they became daunted by the prospect and were defeated before they even began. Instead, by staying flexible, driven and possessing a clear sense of direction, you are able to elevate your productivity dramatically. Furthermore, there are not many things more satisfying than seeing a crossed out list at the end of a day!
Find an outlet from school
The third strategy is to find an outlet from school. Whilst this may be slightly more difficult in our current reality, it is no excuse to simply shut down all of your co-curricular activities. Finding a hobby outside of school is vital in ensuring a balanced, healthy lifestyle, and should not be forgotten simply because of the restrictions that are currently in place. Take this opportunity to learn a skill you have not previously had time for. Examples include studying another language, learning a magic trick, practicing crocheting, painting and writing stories. There are a plethora of online tutorials and classes available, for everything ranging from yoga to yodelling. Take advantage of this! It does not matter how ridiculous what you are doing may seem. If you enjoy it, then this will render your school far less cumbersome when you return. Moreover, there is no one judging you from the comfort of your living room (except, perhaps, your dog).
Be kind to yourself
Finally, be kind to yourself. Do not place the expectations of the world upon your own shoulders. We are living in a troubling time full of unprecedented social change, and it is alright if you are finding it hard to adjust. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Release the pressure upon yourself to succeed, and allow yourself to simply perform to the best of your ability. To appropriate a prayer from Reinhold Niebuhr, “Grant yourself the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The world at the moment is challenging, but that doesn’t mean we can’t thrive out of it. Taking control of your own narrative is a great place to start.
Fionn Parker graduated as Dux of Cranbrook School in 2018 with an ATAR of 99.95. After winning a scholarship to the Australian National University to study PPE/Law, he travelled to Austria to work as a Private Tutor. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Catch Up with Top Achievers, a bestselling HSC study guide written by high-performing students designed to help pupils learn HOW to learn.