Remote Learning with Tweens & Teens in 2021 - Our Routine


I wanted to write a post which documents our experience of remote learning in 2021. Last year, H, H and J had from March - September off school. It was all new to us then and I feel like we muddled through as best we could, focussing more on life skills like cooking and gardening and more holistic subjects such as Yoga, reading and art. 

After Christmas, it was announced that most children (my own included) would not be returning to their school buildings to learn and would be returning to remote education. At time of writing this, it has been over a month since my children last saw their friends in person or stepped foot in school and who knows how long it is going to go on for. February Half Term was initially used as a goalpost but increasingly, it is looking more like Easter or even beyond. Who knows though? Anything could happen over the next few months and we just need to wait and see. 

Anyway, this time around, I have found remote education to be a lot more organised and I wanted to write this to remind us of this time in. years to come. I really don't feel like anyone has it easy and personally, I cannot stand it when someone tries to say they have it worse than you. Every single one of us has moments where we will find this lockdown tough and challenging and find it difficult to juggle it all and other times we may feel a little more on top of things (or we may not). Coronavirus and lockdowns are a huge rollercoaster of emotions for all of us and everyone has their own struggles. 

But saying that, I can recognise that I am in a fairly privileged position in that I am self employed and can easily be at home and be pretty hands on with their learning. I know not everyone has that luxury. This does come with it's downsides (mostly loss of work and earnings) but with the help of Government grants for the self employed and bits and bobs of work, I am managing ok at the moment. Definitely nowhere near the levels I would normally be at but we are managing. 

Steve has worked out of the home throughout the pandemic and for the most part, it is just me and the kids at home day in, day out. Steve does have the option to work from home but it would be near impossible as there is literally nowhere for him to set up a private workstation where he cannot be disturbed and where he can access our WiFi. 

Harry is in Year 9, Heidi Year 7 (both Secondary) and Jack Year 5. I am pleased Heidi had the time from September - December 2020 to actually attend school and meet her teachers / classmates / get to grips with the new lessons and the technology they use as it has meant the transition has been SO much easier. 

Harry and Heidi both work in their bedrooms. They follow their school timetable with live lessons which last 45 minutes with a 15 minute break between lessons. It works much better everyone being in their own space as we can stay much more focussed. I really like the 15 minutes between lessons as it gives me a chance to check in on H&H, ask what they've been up to or if they have any concerns. They also like to use this time between lessons to call their friends for a quick chat and catch up socially which is nice.

I am not too hands on with Harry and Heidi's learning as I trust them. I have had three telephone reviews from their teachers so far and they haven't raised any concerns and they have been awarded a couple of certificates for outstanding work on a couple of occasions so I don't really worry that they aren't getting on. 

Their lessons are fairly varied. Sometimes a teacher may be just talking the whole time on camera and inviting students to answer questions. Other times there will be a teacher discussion at the start of the lesson and they will set work which needs to be emailed over by the end of the lesson. In art the teacher might set them mini tasks such as draw a bird 7 different ways (eg with your left hand  eyes closed etc....). I do feel like they are getting a pretty full and varied education. Occasionally they finish a lesson super early or a teacher may have technical difficulties setting up the Google Meet but on the whole, their system is working really well. 

The only thing that isn't really working is PE which is the only lesson which isn't live. The school has provided resources but Heidi is super lazy when it comes to exercise and trying to get her to do any is hard work. I just let Harry play beatsaber on his VR for PE as over the hour he does actually build up a bit of a sweat. I am going to try and think of other ways we can encourage more 'fun' exercise into our day soon. Trying to get them to do something like PE with Joe is pretty impossible and which teenagers want to go for a walk in the rain in winter? 

Jack does not have live lessons and he works downstairs in the living room where I supervise. During last year's remote learning, we realised that our technology really needed upgrading. The one laptop I had to share between myself, Heidi and Jack had keys missing, you couldn't use the delete key and it was really slow. So in the summer we upgraded and bought an iMac and iPad with a keyboard/Apple pen and it has made the world of difference. Having access to decent technology really does help a huge amount and I really do feel for those who don't have access. 

Heidi and Harry both use the chromebooks they already have and use in school and Jack mostly uses our iPad and I stay logged into our iMac and duck in and out of work/checking emails throughout the day. 

Jack is set work through SeeSaw which is an educational app designed for home-school communication. We get a timetable of work at the beginning of the week so we can see what's coming up and then we get work set each day. There is always one piece of Maths, one piece of English and one piece of Grammar plus one piece of work based on their Science/History/Geography/RE/PE etc..... topics which changes each day so one day it might be Science, the next it might be History..... They also need to spend 15 minutes on the spelling shed app, 15 minutes on Times Tables Rockstars app and 15 minutes reading which is recorded and monitored by the teacher. 

The work being set is pretty varied and a combination of worksheets / watching videos and answering questions / creating your own piece of work (eg a postcard / poster) around a subject and is uploaded via SeeSaw and marked by the teacher with feedback. I like that Jack's teacher is always on the end of the app and if Jack (or I) have any questions, she is just a message away. I also feel like the work being set is challenging enough for Jack and is following the curriculum which again, feels so much better all around than last time for us. 

Our day usually goes as follows: 

7:30am - Steve goes to work 
8am - Harry's alarm goes off/ he goes downstairs for breakfast 
8:15am - Jack's alarm goes off / he goes downstairs for breakfast 
8:30am - I wake Heidi up who is little miss sleepy head, finish getting ready myself, make a coffee, do any breakfast dishes and put a load of washing in + fold the washing that's on our air dryer ready for the kids to put away 

I have a rule that everyone must get dressed for the day and isn't allowed to lounge around in their PJs - that's what weekends are for. 

9am - Lessons start, Harry and Heidi disappear upstairs. They like to have their music playing as they work through Spotify but seem to listen to the same songs every day. Harry loves singing along when he doesn't need to be listening to a teacher and once he said he had his mic off mute and didn't realise so the whole class could hear him. Oops! 

Jack tends to spend the first hour completing his Grammar, English and Maths work. 

10am - At 10am the kids have their first break and usually come downstairs for a quick chat or to make themselves a cuppa. 

Then it is back to lessons, Jack will crack on with his too. I would say he needs to be supervised around 50% of the time. Sometimes I can set him away with a task and just leave him to it (eg Times Tables Rockstars) which is when I try and catch up with work. Other times it is better if I supervise as he tends to sometimes just get away with the very minimum amount of work if he can sometimes but if I am there with him, it does encourage him to do more and put more effort in. 

11am - Break time is around 11am, I usually prepare three little Ramekins on the bench filled with fruit and either a brunch bar or yoghurt plus a smoothie or glass of fresh juice. H&H usually eat there's up in their room while they talk with their friends. I don't usually let them eat in their room but they have been good and bring their dishes down straight away. You have to make allowances in the pandemic I think! 

Jack then finishes most of his work, we usually leave one task and reading for after lunch. If Jack finishes early, he is reading a Tony Robinson book about Ancient Greece which fills some time in. 

12noon - I usually have lunch ready for 12noon and we all eat together and catch up / chat about what we've been doing that morning which is nice. Sometimes we will watch a bit of TV before H&H disappear off to call their friends again before starting their afternoon lessons. On Fridays we have a bit of a treat lunch and I normally order something for delivery. So far we have had McDs and Subway. Honestly I feel like it's the least I can do for the kids, I am so proud of how they are doing. They used to have school dinners twice a week and this is our equivalent.

12:30pm - H&H are still on their lunch break but back upstairs and Jack is usually keen to get on with work. We usually save the activity which needs the most parental input for the afternoon and then it is my favourite part of the day where Jack and I read a chapter of a book together. We are currently reading Oranges in No Man's Land and both really enjoying it. I stopped reading with the kids every day once they reached 7/8 and it is so lovely to get back in the habit. I actually hope it stays as it is a lovely quiet time for us to just bond. 

1:30pm - Jack is usually finished for the day at this point. I either organise our own little activity (eg baking / watching Horrible Histories / a Science Experiment / go to the park) or just let Jack play LEGO/watch YouTube / play on XBox. I feel like he works hard and doesn't need to work the full school day as there are far less distractions at home. This is when I tend to get most of my work done and if I have things to do, I can generally work from 2pm-5pm without any interruptions. 

3pm - Everyone finishes for the day. H & H usually come downstairs and ask for a snack, I usually let them pick something from their treat box and we have a mini catch up about our afternoon. 

5pm - Most of the time, Steve is home for 5pm and in charge of cooking dinner. As I am at home and the main carer for H, H and J, I do feel like I complete 90% of the chores and childcare responsibilities . I feel strongly that it should be a 50/50 split but when you work from home, it is just easier to be the one who does the lion's share. There does sometimes feel like there is a lot of pressure on me to juggle work / keeping on top of the chores / caring for H,H and J but it is what it is, it won't be forever and I although I mentioned we all have our struggles, I know there are so many people who are having a much harder time than I am. 

I am strict when it comes to Steve cooking dinner though so at least I usually don't have to worry about that (except when it's his late shift). 

We usually all eat dinner together and it is a chance for the kids to tell Steve about their day then the kids disappear upstairs and usually spend the night on XBox/ Minecraft / Roblox / Playstation whilst video calling their friends and Steve and I just watch TV downstairs or I read my book. 

10pm - We usually go upstairs to bed, Jack has to go to sleep and H&H can stay up until 11pm. We usually watch an episode of our latest Netflix binge in bed until 11pm (currently How to Get Away with Murder) and then it's lights out for everyone at 11pm. 

Then the next day, it's all repeated all over again. 

I remember during the last period of remote learning, some parents were mocked for making up timetables for their kids to follow but for me, routine has been everything and definitely kept me sane. It gives us a real structure to our day and we all know what we are doing. I also think it gives our day a purpose too. I try to plan something fun for the weekends whether this be a movie night or afternoon tea delivered or games night.....just something a little different and our weekends definitely do feel different to our weekdays and we usually have a nice lie in too. 

So that's our routine and it is probably likely to stay this way for the next few weeks/months. How long is a piece of string? It can be tough living in Groundhog day but the fact that it won't be forever and that I know the kids' teachers are the ones providing the majority of their education has definitely helped. 

PS - Please do not leave a comment on this post / social media stating any annoyance with your school / teachers. I am fully supportive of our education sector in these very difficult times and would hate for any teachers or support staff to see a negative comment about them on North East Family Fun. I just don't want to be associated with that. If you have any concerns, please take them up with your school direct. I am sure they will try and help. 



  1. Our school is definitely getting better as the weeks go on. We've had much more communication with the teachers with the boys getting some sort of feedback on each piece of work. James is a year younger than J and definitely needs me to supervise him which can be tricky with Freddie demanding more work even once he has finished his!

  2. The remote learning is so much more organised now than it was first time around. It was a bit of a shock to get used to but we're getting there. It sounds like the home learning is going well for your family. It sounds like a good routine.
    My girl is lazy when it comes to PE too and just won't do the exercise videos the school have sent. We have found some fun one's that both me and her will be starting next week. x


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