One year of lockdown home-schooling – key lessons learnt

Telenor continues to provide free access to major education websites during the extended lockdown

A year ago, public education changed out of recognition. Students and teachers moved from the classroom to their homes overnight and the concept of lockdown home-schooling was born. This abrupt change brough lots of difficulties, but it has also generated a vast store of useful experience in digital education. Now, one year after home-schooling was first introduced, students are at home again. What did we learn over the past year? How to survive the next lockdown period? Please read the answers from psychologist Réka Szigeti and maths teacher Balázs Koren, Digital Education Ambassador.

Coronavirus turned life upside down in Hungary a year ago, with a major impact also on education. Since the education environment is now the same as it was a year ago, many people feel that we are back to the starting line again. But the positive experience gained during this past year can help a lot to teachers, students and parents alike.

Not having to start from scratch

“Most people were obviously shocked by the new lockdown and the return to fully remote education,” says maths teacher Balázs Koren, Digital Education Ambassador and Head of Hipersuli, Telenor’s digital education program. “It is important to be aware, however, that you don’t have to start everything from scratch, as we are now a lot more experienced in all aspects of digital education than we were a year ago.”

In addition to the experience available, it has also made things easier that stakeholders now had a bit more time to prepare for home-schooling before the lockdown was imposed. “Last year, you had to manage the shift literally overnight, from Friday to Monday, without any previous experience. It was different this time. Stakeholders had an opportunity to consult, discuss and organize what was going to happen from Monday and review practices that proved effective before.”

“Remote education is not fully unknown to teachers either. Even those teaching in the lower grades of primary school have several months of experience”, adds Balázs Koren. “Most schools found the platforms most suitable for their teachers and standardized them which makes life easier for all parties involved in lockdown home-schooling. This is especially relevant for schools with 12 grades where they have well-functioning secondary school teaching processes that can be adapted to lower grades. This year, schools don’t jump blindfolded, but develop home-schooling content based on principles adjusted to their own teaching staff and students of different age groups.”

When remote education was imposed last year, nobody knew how long it would last. “Based on the current plans, this period has less uncertainties. We see the light at the end of the tunnel and hope that current restrictions would be lifted after the Easter break and we can return to education as usual in a month’s time. This creates a more manageable perspective and makes it mentally easier to face the challenges.”

Find some fixed points and create a lockdown bucket list

“It is difficult to find sense and context in the current difficult station for parents, students and teachers alike. Yet, you should try to find some fixed points in your life to be able to cope”, says health psychologist Réka Szigeti, Head of school stress management program Sulinyugi

To manage stress and cope with events, you should let yourself grieve. “The situation evokes different feelings in people. Don’t suppress them but be free to live them. You should allow yourself to be sad or angry. Make paintings or drawings to express your emotions or write a diary about your thoughts.”

You can use so called micro-charges to fight the tension or exhaustion triggered by the lockdown to prevent burn-out. Micro charges are short, few-minute intervals during your day when you can recharge your batteries a bit, and if you repeat them, they will have a cumulative effect. “When you are overwhelmed with your tasks or have too much homework on your plate, stop for a minute and perform short, focused abdominal breathing exercises. Sit on your balcony in the spring sunshine, have a cup of your favourite tea or just hum a nice melody while washing your hands. Such things may seem to be trivial, but they are very useful and it is important to live them. They can help you regain control which can give you strength to continue no matter how small the task at hand is”, say Rita Szigeti.

During remote school stress management courses conducted under the Sulinyugi program, the creation of a lockdown bucket list was a recurring idea with students. A bucket list can help them develop a positive attitude to the lockdown. To create it, students have to collect some non-educational activities not part of their daily routine that they would like to complete in the near future, before the lockdown is over. “If you can reframe this highly frustrating situation and realize how you can turn it around to your benefit, you’ll be able to better cope with your daily struggles.”

Remote education manual and free education websites

When lockdown home-schooling was first announced last year, HiperSuli teachers immediately got together to create an online manual for fellow teachers and parents and help them prepare and manage remote education. The recommendations provide support for preparing, structuring and managing classes, as well as for selecting appropriate digital methods.

When restrictions were imposed again in November last year, Telenor made access to top education websites free of charge in agreement with the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM). Free access initially valid until 8 February 2021 has now been extended for the second time until the end of the lockdown. As a result, Telenor customers with an active data allowance can use these websites without consuming the data included in their tariff plan. The education websites available free of charge are listed at here.