What's life really like for pupils in lockdown?

Children in Scotland share their experiences of learning at home and being separated from their school friends

Emma Seith

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A new publication recording children’s experiences of lockdown has uncovered the myriad new skills they are learning – from cooking to juggling – but also highlights one of the key things they miss about school: having a teacher on hand to help them when they are stuck.

The Scottish Children’s Parliament has recruited 12 children to chart their experience of life and learning at home during the coronavirus pandemic, and is publishing regular summaries of their thoughts and feelings in its Corona Times Journal.

The children – five girls and seven boys aged between eight and 14 – talk a lot about being bored and the impact that the school closures have had on their routines, with many commenting that they are now going to bed later and getting up later.


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“My sleep schedule went haywire after lockdown,” says a 12-year-old. “I go to bed way later and get up at like 10 or 11, which I never, ever do, not even [in the] summer holidays.”

However, it is clear that there is still a lot of learning going on.

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The same 12-year-old talks about learning Spanish, as well as writing several chapters of a murder mystery novel as part of a school assignment. A teenager talks about learning to juggle – “juggling is a lot better because it is fun and better than sitting at a computer and typing”. An 11-year-old is working on executing a cartwheel without hands, a move called “an aerial”; and an eight-year-old talks about learning first aid, making animations and growing their own vegetables.

A lot of the children comment that more time is being invested by their families in home-cooked meals and they are getting involved, from learning how to make soup and schnitzel, to baking cinnamon buns and even singlehandedly preparing the evening meal.

Some also highlight that the one-on-one support they are getting from parents has improved their confidence in subjects such as maths.

However, a clear message is that when they are stuck, they miss their teachers – and that learning online does not suit everyone.

A dyslexic pupil talks about struggling without teacher support, saying “school is pretty hard because we don’t have the teachers to help us if we are stuck”. And an 11-year-old says: “I’ve not really been doing school work because it is boring. It is all words. I dance to music instead... I’ve not been on Google Classroom for two days. My teacher texted my mum.”

Another 11-year-old, meanwhile, says: “Online maths is tricky. In real life my teacher explains how it works.”

There is also a suggestion that some might even have had their fill of screen time.

“I’m at the computer from 9 to 3.45,” says a 14-year-old. “Adults told us not to go on screens because it hurts our eyes. Now they are telling us to go on the screen all the time.”

A 12-year-old says that they are getting a range of school work, “but we’re definitely spending a lot more time using screens”. The pupil adds: “It’s difficult for parents to limit screen time for their kids...Screens are good but too much can also make you bored.”

In April, the Scottish Children’s Parliament also conducted a survey that was completed by almost 4,000 children aged between 8 and 14. The survey asked about home life, friends, exercise and also learning. It found that 12- to 14-year-olds, in particular, felt they did not have enough control over what they were learning, were not enjoying what they were learning, and were worrying about school work.  

The May survey is open now, but will close tomorrow.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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