Isolation for the nation: secondary students

Today our secondary students from around the state explain what learning from home for the past two weeks has meant for them.

Kailash, Year 12, Normanhurst Boys High

Normanhurst Boys High student Kailash Sarma has his own public speaking business to build resilience and self-confidence in children. But like every Year 12 student he is dealing with how to study for his HSC in an era of learning from home.

Kailash Sarma

Hello, my name is Kailash Sarma, and I'm currently in Year 12 at Normanhurst Boys High School.

It's been my third week learning from home, and I must say, it's going really well. It's been very interesting. I never knew maths lessons online could work so well. My maths teacher has been sharing his screen and annotating with a stylus, and I can still ask all the questions I need to. In fact, not much has really changed from the learning side of things.

What I realised, however, is how important having a routine is. For the first week, I struggled with getting back into my old routine that I had when I was at school. I started to wake up a bit later than I used to. I stopped exercising and couldn't spend as much time with my friends. I realised how important my routine was and now I wake up at the same time as I did for school, started to exercise by going on walks and have group calls with my friends every single day. And this really made a huge difference, even with all of the changes and the uncertainty that comes with what's going on.

I must say there are some benefits from studying at home. Firstly, I can wear what I want to online school; it's sort of like it's mufti day except every single day. Secondly, I can eat whenever I want but I think the best thing is, I've had the opportunity to spend more time with my family and take my dog on a lot more walks.

I've kept my routine fairly the same as I did in school with still waking up at 6am every morning. After breakfast, I go for a quick walk and then put on my school jersey to get myself into the mindset for learning. After online classes, I have a short break and then complete all my schoolwork that needs to be done. I tend to spend my nights normally chatting to my friends and playing games with them online.

See, even with the HSC coming up, I know my teachers are doing everything possible to make sure that I am prepared and I'm really looking forward to going back to school to meet all my friends.

End of transcript.

Oscar, Year 8, Denison College, Bathurst High campus

"I’m enjoying lazy starts to the day, a cuppa tea in bed and then going to online classes to catch up with friends. I am really missing my friends and sport classes at school especially handball championships every lunch!

I really miss the face to face contact with lots of different people, my teachers’ bad jokes and team sports. I don’t find it hard to stay motivated at home, I find keeping the routine going and trying to make my day as normal as possible helpful. The best part is when the work is done I can do what I want to do like reading and playing board games.

We live out of town, so there is lots of space to ride our bikes, walk the laneway or play with my three siblings. We have also been doing lots of work in our backyard so there is no shortage of activities to keep us busy."

Saskia, Year 8, Sydney Secondary College, Balmain campus

"Home schooling isn’t always easy and to be honest at times I really wish I was back at school. My routine is the same each day. I wake up, get ready and then do my school work the way I usually would. I follow my classes according to when I would normally have them in the day and my breaks follow this as well. Once I'm done with school I usually just relax or work on any assessments that are due.

My parents have helped me a lot and have made the whole experience easier. One of the things my parents have done is they’ve stayed out of my way and let me do my work and I like that they trust me enough to know I’m doing what I'm meant to.

Something I’ve really enjoyed about being at home is not having to wear my uniform. Although there are some great things, I've really missed my friends. We FaceTime every day, but it’s just not the same as seeing each other in person.

Even though I’m stuck at home I’m still doing exercise. When I am with my mum, we go for a walk with our dog Molly. Another way I get exercise is by dancing. I usually dance at a studio but because it’s closed we’re having video classes online and this has been great."

Image: Year 9 student Laura learning from home ... challenges make us stronger, more resilient people.

Laura, Year 9, Murrumbidgee Regional High School, Griffith

"Like most students across the state, I've been learning from home for the past few weeks. Learning from home is challenging simply because it is different. I've been trying to keep to my regular timetable so that I don't miss out on work, but being at home means that if I'm having trouble with a concept or flying through work, I can spend a little more or a little less time on each subject or lesson. At home, I find that it's easier to get distracted because I've always considered school as a working place while home is a place for just about everything else, especially relaxing.

While my teachers at Aurora College [a virtual selective high school for rural and remote students] are used to working from a distance [all over NSW], the teachers at Murrumbidgee are learning new skills. My PE teacher is sending us loads of resources to help us keep active during this weird time. Learning at home is new and sometimes challenging, but challenges make us stronger, more resilient people."

Hunter, Year 12, Eden Marine High School

"Learning from home has been a change, but I was well equipped before it was needed as I have done an online school from year 7 with Aurora College. Staying on top of my learning has been a big priority for me, but initially, I couldn’t find the motivation. I had no routine and there was so much more I could do; from playing games to watching YouTube.

Then came the assessment I had to quickly finish. At that point, I created a routine that was similar to my school timetable and formed a functional workspace. In its creation, I made sure to account for both my physical and mental health. I made sure to not only include school but also food, fitness, chores, sleep and much more.

I am now comfortable with where I am and cruising along with all the work. I am finding school easier as well, as I have more time to do the work without the need for bus trips and delays. However, I am still missing the physical realm. I am not able to meet up with friends unless it’s online and working through English is much harder.

I am now happy with where I am and as long as I stay on top of everything, I will stay this way."
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