Any high-schooler knows what a typical school day looks like - class from 8:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. followed by homework, after school activities (athletics, performing arts, volunteering, academic support, job, family chores, etc.) and squeezing in downtime when possible. This structured and time-intensive schedule often directs students from hour to hour, serves as a built-in time-management tool, and also may funnel students into easily accessed extra-curricular activities. With high schools now in virtual mode and students sheltering in place, however, this time structure has shifted from distinct blocks to open-ended hours, and access and participation in clubs, sports, and extracurricular activities may require an entirely new approach.
It may not be readily apparent, but this shift is an opening for high school students to recalibrate what their day to day life looks like, and to seek out new activities that may be off the well-traveled and familiar road. Some students may welcome this opportunity, while others may need to look around to see all the options before committing to something out of their comfort zone. Transposing interests into virtual and local activities can be as specific as:
Developing workout routines for Youtube.
Perfecting a chocolate-chunk-chip cookie recipe and then sharing your successes, flops, and tips via a cookbook, ebook, or podcast.
Creating a travelogue of all the places you've wanted to visit and sharing how to visit virtually.
Finding a side-gig, virtual volunteer role, or starting a home-project and documenting it.
Now may be the perfect time to survey your world, both figuratively and literally, to determine what is needed in the community around you and how you can contribute.
Is there a local senior community shut-off from visitors where residents would enjoy pen-pals or virtual visits?
Feeling “handy” enough to be able to help your family (or neighbors) with a newly constructed compost pile or garden that morphs into a science project?
Have an interest in recycling or fashion? While brick and mortar retail stores are temporarily out of reach, consider hosting a virtual hen party, clothes swap, or collecting clothes to donate.
If your school isn't hosting its usual annual food donation, it doesn't mean there isn't still a need. Investigate how you might apply your organizing skills to some other activity, or team up with a group that is hosting an event that you value.
Been putting off learning a second or third language, how to code, or taking a class not offered at school? Consider taking an online course.
Maybe it's time to read all of the Jack Ryan stories, or your favorite book in a foreign language.
Find out if you can work on the upcoming elections. Ready to be a poll worker or canvasser?
Have a knack for a particular subject? Perhaps it's time to launch an online tutoring service.
While you may have been engaged in extra-curricular activities driven by natural talents and interests throughout high school, now may be the perfect time to re-evaluate and re-tool your talents and interests in entirely different ways. Off the beaten track? Quirky? Something no one has heard of is all fair game, and the more specific it is to what fascinates you, the better.
This new shift in time and structure also means students will need to re-evaluate the right balance between schoolwork and other activities to create a daily schedule that works. Don't be surprised if it takes time to adjust, so give yourself time to acclimate. This may be as simple as sticking to a familiar schedule of sleep, meals, some form of exercise, or getting outside. Who knew walking your dog or discovering which neighbors are participating in the bear scavenger hunt would be part of your new workout? While attending class in your pajamas may be possible, avoid attending class from your bed, and prioritize showering and self-care, which could mean family haircuts and zoom workouts are all part of your essential list of weekly activities. Tools like a whiteboard, scheduling app, online calendar, or a simple strategy on how to start building your schedule may be needed. Developing the ability to manage time and prioritizing daily life as a high school student is a tool that should not be downplayed, and is an essential asset to maximize a college experience. Re-tooling daily schedules and activities may not have been on a students' radar, but this is a moment that is ripe for making lemonade out of lemons.
Prefer tech vs. whiteboard? These apps are worth trying out to see what fits.
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