Study from Home: Advice from the Irish Second Level Students Union

Provided to the NPCPP by Ciara Fanning, President of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU)

The current situation is an incredibly confusing time for everyone, but the impact it is having on our education system at the moment is unprecedented. We are experiencing a move to online learning that students, teachers and parents were not wholly prepared for, and a period of uncertainty when it comes to State Examinations and the contingency plans for progression to third level and the CAO.

It is crucial that details are released as soon as possible around the future of the State Exams. The lack of clarity around the situation and the misinformation floating around social media is really distracting for students and makes it incredibly difficult to focus. This is a hugely difficult and confusing time for everyone, but particularly for students who are due to sit State Exams. Having built up to these exams this year and previous school years there is huge pressure to perform well and for those in Junior/ Leaving Cert it is impossible to study or work towards exams in June when it is not clear whether the exams are going ahead, if they will be postponed or if they will take place as normal. The ISSU are campaigning for clarity around the issue of the State Examinations and for students to be included in these discussions, and as a result of this campaign we have been invited by the Department to take part in the next briefing around the State Exams.

Of course, the health and safety of all those in society is everyone’s top priority, however these strange times will understandably take a toll on people’s mental health, and particularly for students.

We are so used to having our day timetabled, from the moment we enter the school doors in the morning, to the minute we leave in the evenings.

It is really difficult to adjust to the sudden change in structure, and to continue to feel productive when our days no longer begin circa 7am and revolve around moving from class to class the entire day.

There is also a separation between classwork and in person teaching time and homework/study that is difficult to recreate at home when all of our learning and study takes place within the same four walls.

Here at ISSU we have put together a few tips for students to help with both mental health and coping mechanisms during the current crisis and attempts to maximise productivity and study time while in quarantine.  These may also be useful for parents to help children that are trying to navigate online learning.

1.Stick to a timetable

It may help to focus if you attempt to stick to your school timetable as much as possible. For example, if you have English first thing on a Monday, to attempt to work on your English at this time. Of course, this may not work for everyone, and you may find your own order of learning and way of working that helps you, but it may be a good trick to add some structure to learning and working at home.

2.Take a news break

The constant cycle of news and social media updates from here and around the world can make you feel anxious and helpless. Constantly checking your phone (which many of us are guilty of) will not only eat into time spent studying but it will only make you feel worse about the whole situation. It’s responsible to want to stay informed so check up on the latest news maybe twice a day instead of every hour to help you feel informed but not panicked.

3.Treat yo’self

Try not to beat yourself up if you don’t think you’re ‘maximising’ being stuck at home all day. There is no precedent for the current situation so there is no right or wrong way to feel about it. As well as taking a break from Covid-19 related social media, it’s important to make sure you find ways to enjoy yourself while most of the places we usually go are closed. If that means watching TikTok or Netflix then so be it.

4.Get moving

With all organised sports cancelled and gyms closed at the moment, it can be more difficult to get exercise. With the evenings getting brighter and milder, it’s a good chance to go for a walk or a run (while adhering to social distancing guidelines of course). It’ll be good to get out of the house and hopefully get a change of scenery.

5.Call a Friend

Now that social distancing must be followed as well as limiting our social interactions, it is the perfect time to call or FaceTime a friend. The Houseparty app is also really useful for group calls. This whole situation can be really overwhelming, so it is good to have a chat with your friends to have a break from everything that’s going on!

Published: 30 March 2020

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