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How to do school at home without getting distracted—tips from a former homeschooler

By now, due to the coronavirus outbreak, most schools in the United States have transitioned to online learning. If you're new to the world of taking classes from home, you may be wondering how to stay on top of your academic game without going down a million rabbit holes. 

Here's the thing: Doing school from home isn't all breakfast in bed and Netflix marathons. It's real work—but don't stress, we've got answers to *all* your most burning questions from someone who gets it. 

We talked to Emily D., a GL reader and former homeschooler from Los Angeles, Calif. to get *all* the deets on how to stay focused...even when you're working with your adorbs cat by your side.

How should I start my day?

"Schedule your day just like you're going to school," Emily suggests. "That means setting an alarm, waking up at the same time each morning and taking some time to wash up, brush your hair and eat a healthy breakfast."

She also recommends changing out of your PJs and slippers when you're ready to work. "Following a routine will remind your brain that it's school time and help energize you to be productive." Don't worry, you don't have to go full school uniform—a cute athleisure look or your fave comfy joggers can do the trick.

How do I spend my work time?

When you're working online, it's extra-important to create a schedule and stick to it. "Try writing down a schedule the night before, with times marked down and everything," Emily says. "Knowing when you'll do what—from homework to note-taking to studying—makes it harder for assignments to slip through the cracks." 

You have your study habits that make you successful in class, so don't be afraid to translate those to a new setting. "If you do well by taking tons of notes, or asking lots of questions, you need to do that even when you're not in person with your teachers," Emily adds. "Switching from focused learning to multitasking, or watching Instagram stories when you're supposed to be watching a presentation, can make your grades drop fast." 

Another helpful tip: Start a study group. "Be sure to schedule calls and video chats with friends," Emily says, "whether you're talking about assignments, studying together or just sharing stories and staying connected." 

Ugh, I miss my friends! 

It's normal to feel isolated and a little lonely when switching to online school. "The typical school day has lunches, study halls and times when you just meet up with friends to talk," Emily says. "You have to make sure to include those social moments even when you're learning from home." 

Her suggestions? Plan a lunch break to FaceTime your BFF, create mini-traditions with your squad (on Friday nights, you can all binge-watch the same Netflix series) and grab a moment with your fam when things feel stressy (yes, pets count). 

How do I end my day?

Choose a set time to finish your school day and power down your laptop. With clear hours for relaxation, you can ensure that school isn't taking over your life. "When you're not spending time riding the bus or standing in the cafeteria line, it's a great opportunity to read books for fun and try new hobbies, whether it's baking or starting a YouTube channel," Emily says. Who knows—you may emerge from this experience as a whole new person.

How is your school handling online learning? Comment below!

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by Katherine Hammer | 3/17/2020
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