This time last year, our students were entering their first Lockdown. Home schooling was a novelty, expected to last a short time. Teachers, students and parents were slowly learning to adjust to this new reality. Hobbies had an air of novelty about them. Online schooling was finding its feet.
Teenagers experienced a summer holiday like no other. They might not have met up with any friends or cousins. Booked holidays and other plans may have been cancelled. That delicious feeling of summer days just hanging out with friends – one we have all taken for granted over the years – evaporated, along with trips to the cinema, shopping centre, beach. And then, when they returned to school, they faced more difference. More rules to follow, one way systems, rivers of hand sanitiser, any hints of friendly smiles hidden behind face masks.
And yet, these young people remained resilient, even upbeat. Last term they took to our new system as though it had existed for years. They adapted to online and blended learning, new routes around the school. They borrowed more books from the School Library (using Click and Collect) than during the same period last year.
When we returned to online teaching and learning in January, our young people were ready.
As online classes became routine and filled our students’ days, it would be natural to assume they might be stuck for extracurricular activities outside of class times. While some lunch activities have been offered (here I’ll make a plug for the Library’s bi-weekly lunchtime clubs), these cannot make up for in-person activities.
Student activity was notable in the Virtual Library (a Google Classroom run by the School Librarian), and this cross-year group platform was used to pose a question to students early in the term. ‘What are your Lockdown hobbies and pastimes?’ Students did not disappoint in the range of answers they provided. 73 students responded altogether.
It was clear that family life was important to our respondents, with several talking about doing these activities with siblings or the whole family. Baking and family walks were particularly common. TikTok was mentioned by a few dance fans (and this was sometimes a family activity too), and we had one gardener in our midst. There were a few family pets mentioned as getting extra attention during Lockdown, and someone even took up keeping pet snails! Languages were mentioned by a few, with several taking up a new language and some honing home language skills. Sewing, cross-stitch, origami and photography were mentioned, as were board games and video games. There were some patterns across the board.