How to Keep on Track in School During COVID-19 Isolation: Advice from NSHSS Members in China

Thursday, April 02, 2020

By the time China lifts the COVID-19 lockdown, its citizens will have experienced more than two months of isolation. With schools closing and daily life transitioning from in-person to online, students had no choice but to adjust to a new learning (and living) environment almost overnight. While staying home for a handful of weeks may sound easy to some, it can be rather challenging, testing one’s own motivation, self-discipline, and diligence. Thus, we asked our NSHSS members from China what steps they took to keep on track in school and in life during their time in isolation. Read on for first-hand advice from NSHSS members in Hong Kong and Shanghai. 


Establish a Routine that Doesn’t Include Sleeping In!

Several members, including Linda Zheng and Tim Guo (Shanghai United International School, Pudong campus) explained that establishing a daily routine that includes a healthy sleep schedule is beneficial for several reasons.Tim said “it can be painful in the beginning, but sticking to a stricter routine is well worth the effort.” He explained that plenty of sleep will enhance your productivity and waking up early will help you to fully utilize all the hours of the day, allowing you to complete your school work, but also allow plenty of time to relax. 


Keep a Daily Schedule and To-do List

Bowie Chan and Taylor Mak from St. Paul’s School (Lam Tin) in Hong Kong suggest creating a daily to-do list with tasks and assignments to complete each day. Bowie says that you should have an organized schedule of your school work complete with assignment due dates that will help you prioritize your to-do list. This will help you set goals for completing tasks, manage your time appropriately, and will keep you from falling behind or procrastinating on your work. Students suggested using Google Calendar for creating a daily schedule and to-do list. 


Ask Your Teacher for Help

Students in China are realizing the important role of clear and concise communication in an online classroom, especially with their teachers. Jessica Ma from SUIS-Gubei, Shanghai suggests that you be as specific as possible when asking teachers for help to avoid a long lag time in getting the information you need. "Rather than just asking for help, in general, ask a specific question by first stating the chapters or units or even the pages of textbooks that you are focusing on. Clearly state the points that you don’t understand. I also strongly suggest you give your own opinion or show how you attempted to answer the question so that the teacher will understand your perspective and be better able to help you." Additionally, students like Yu Hong Law of Shanghai United International School, Gubei Campus, and Sarah Li of St. Paul's School (Lam Tin) encourage students to keep open communication with their teachers and not avoid asking for extra help when needed. In doing so, Sarah explained, you will not only help your own learning by escaping some unnecessary stress and wasted time, but the feedback will aid the teacher in modifying and improving other students’ learning experience as well.   


Find a Balance between Work and Leisure

A number of students explained that finding a good balance between school work and leisure was best for time management and success. Kerry Lui of St. Paul's School (Lam Tin) suggests taking small breaks of leisure time throughout the day to decrease the chance of “burnout” from studying. Additionally, Bill Fan from Kang Chiao International School East China Campus explained that activities like reading a book, watching a movie, or playing video games will “kill boredom,” but warned not to let those activities take priority of your day. Eva Kei of St. Paul's School (Lam Tin) suggests taking up a new hobby that you have wanted to try for a long time like cooking, baking, or painting. These new hobbies will help you balance and manage time between your school life and your new daily life in doors in a positive way.


Reserve Time Away from Your Phone

Whether it’s for completing an assignment, studying, learning a new hobby, or spending time with family, NSHSS members in China encourage you to reserve time apart from your smartphone or similar gadgets. Fiorella Garcia of Shanghai United International School Gubei Campus explained that this is the time to stay together and those you love deserve to spend quality time with you, so don’t let your smartphone have all of your attention!  Karen Tung of St. Paul's School (Lam Tin) also explained that the distraction of your phone while studying or doing school work “steals your time and focus” too easily. So, reserving time away from it will boost one’s productivity, leaving more time open for the things you enjoy. 


Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

A resounding number of students emphasized the importance of staying physically active during isolation. Students found that regular physical exercise helped them not only get through their daily life, but also helped them enhance their studying. Anita Pak of St. Paul's School (Lam Tin) said that keeping a strong and healthy body helps her mind focus on her school work. Tim Guo (Shanghai United International School) finds that regular exercise can come as a welcomed break from school assignments, but can also reduce stress and improve one's mood and immune system. So regular exercise is not only helpful for balancing between work and leisure, but can boost one’s mental and physical health as well. 


Our NSHSS members in China enthusiastically extended a helping hand to us to provide their insider knowledge to their fellow members across the world who are now experiencing the first steps of quarantine. In addition to the stated tips discussed above, the students would like everyone to remember to keep in touch with friends and to openly share their experiences with each other to help cope with the circumstances adequately. Apply these pearls of wisdom from those who have experienced it first-hand to use this time wisely by focusing on your future, maintaining a positive attitude, and diligently taking the recommended steps to stop the spread of disease.  

Pictured below are students from each school in Shanghai during their NSHSS induction ceremony in January, 2020. Several of the same students provided the tips discussed for this blog.

(Picture below) NSHSS members from St. Paul's School (Lam Tin)