The recent move to everything being online has changes student’s lives drastically –in both a positive and not so positive way.
On one hand, students have loved being able to sleep in for an extra hour before online learning, rather than having to catch public transport to school, they have been able to enjoy walks and doing sport with friends straight after school, bullying has been reduced and an increase in group projects has allowed for collaboration with peers.
On the other hand, the increase in screen time has caused tiredness, decreased motivation while increasing poor posture, reduced in person, social interactions with friends and constant headaches from constant screen time. For these reasons, our Maths Words not Squiggles Tutors have shared their best short-term tips and strategies than can be implemented to alleviate the long-term effects of online study.
Schedule Screen-Free Time
By looking through the school timetable and understanding which classes your kids have an online Zoom for, which periods are free periods and when they have spare time, you can help them create a quick timetable that schedules in screen time as well as time away from devices. At a minimum, it is encouraged that students leave their study space during recess and lunch times to refresh themselves and allow them to come back to learning refocused and reenergised. These breaks should be spent outside, talking to family, cooking, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, reading a book or any other task that does not involve a phone, Netflix, YouTube or TV.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique has been proven to increase effectiveness and efficiency when completing tasks. To apply this technique, you should focus on a single task for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute (no screen) break. You should then repeat this four times (so for a total of 2 hours) before taking a half an hour break. This easy technique is used by students as well as professionals to utilise their time as productively as possible.
This technique requires you to focus on one task at a time, which is very, very important when dealing with screen time. Our students have mentioned that online learning can be more tiring than face-to-face learning. It has been proven that mental exhaustion is exasperated, not by difficult work that requires concentration, but by changing between multiple tasks frequently – this may include looking at phone every so often or listening to their school teacher online while completing other work. Therefore, the Pomodoro Technique is a great way to maintain focus on single subject/task while reducing screen time in short intervals throughout the day.
Write Instead of Type
At every possible opportunity, encourage your children to engage in writing rather than typing. This is not only important for their eye-sight and to reduce headaches, but the HSC exams and most school exams are pen to paper exams, therefore, maintaining good handwriting, strength and endurance in your fingers to write as well as being able to write cohesive sentences without the help of autocorrect, are all skills student need to be able to maintain and hopefully improve during these times.
Use Hard Copy Textbooks
Most students purchased hard copies of their textbooks at the beginning of the school year. It is suggested that those books are taken off their bookshelf and used during online learning. It may be easier to log in and find the online version, however, referring to physical textbooks provides a well needed break from screens and a great use for those expensive school textbooks that parents paid for. Further to this, printing off resources such as work sheets and past papers to complete by hand is another great way to reduce screen time.
Use Apps to Combat App Use
With apps for just about anything these days, there are actually multiple apps which help phone users reduce time spent on apps – who would have thought! One app that works on both Apple and Android is Blocksite. It is reliable, has little to no ads and can be used on Google Chrome Browser extensions. Another option is to create limits on certain apps through your settings or rely heavily on your phone’s app time counter to limit usage as well. These methods take the heavily lifting out of manually reducing screen time.
Keep your Devices in Another Room
During your kids screen free study times and on-screen free days, it is important to encourage them to keep their devices away from their study space and put them into a different room. Devices include their phone, laptop, iPad and any other device that enables them to choose technology over writing. This is important as it removes the temptation of being distracted by their devices and breaking their screen free studying time. Sometimes it may be helpful to leave devices with a friend or family member so ensure that they do not use them. Further to this, it would be great if study spaces and sleep spaces were separated as having their phone and laptop in a different area from where they are studying prevents screen time right before bed and studying too late into the night (which is ineffective anyway). The time right before bed should be used to wind down and relax, without technology and blue light.
By encouraging and implementing these tips and strategies, our children will increase the effectiveness of their studying, improve the quality of sleep, maintain good physical and mental health and hopefully enjoy and thrive during online learning.
Author: Maths Words not Squiggles (MWNS)