Principals share tips for HBL - Mercy Catholic College Chatswood
News & Events
Principals share tips for HBL

North shore schools, principals share tips for student home learning, advice for parents

Newspaper August 22, 2021

North Shore Times (Sydney, Australia)

David Barwell

The state’s latest Covid outbreak has turned households across the north shore into makeshift classrooms as students and families continue to adapt to the challenges of home based learning.

As students prepare to enter their ninth week in Sydney’s lockdown, the region’s primary and high schools have shared advice and words of encouragement for students learning from home including tips for staying positive, keeping a routine and taking breaks during the day.

The principals have also shared advice for parents including keeping connected with the school community, and encouraging a balance of screen time.

Do you have Covid stress syndrome?

The challenges of remote learning have been reflected in new wellbeing survey at Chatswood High School which showed 12.5 per cent of students surveyed said they would prefer online learning as opposed to face-to-face learning (41 per cent) or a combination of both (46 per cent)

The survey also showed 54 per cent of student said online learning had maintained their schooling progress, while 34 per cent said it had hindered progress, and 12 per cent said it had improved.

Like many schools, the school has a range of resources to assist students learning from home.

Here are some of the tips and words of encouraging from local principals and teachers to help students and households:


Mercy Catholic College Chatswood principal Brenda Timp said tips for students included maintaining a regular routine and getting out for exercise and fresh air each day.

Ms Timp also shared advice for parents including supporting positive mental health by encouraging children to get moving in the fresh air, playing board games as a family, teaching them your favourite hobby or craft.

“Children will have good days and bad days. It can be very therapeutic to take a little time off to recharge if needed. When we re-energise, we quickly catch up with what we may have missed,” she said.

“Remain positive – This will pass, and we are indeed all in it together!”

Other tips for students include:

– Get up on time, get dressed and get ready for the day in the same purposeful way you would if you were going to school.– Have an uncluttered workplace, and at the end of each day make it tidy and ready for the next day.

– Have all the equipment you need at your workplace.– Be on time for zoom classes, and use the opportunity at the end of the class to touch base with your teacher if you are having any difficulty with the work.– Don’t be shy to email your teacher if you need extra help.– Get up and move between classes– Ask your parents what you can do to help them.– Try not to jump off your computer screen and onto your mobile screen! Schedule screen-free time every day.– Have a regular bedtime routine that includes switching all screens off at least half an hour before bedtime.


Knox Grammar headmaster Scott James said the school was encouraging students to be kind themselves and “to look out for their mates by connecting with them every day”.

“Staying fit and active is one of the best ways to improve mental health and enhance mood – we have encouraged our boys to spend time outside every day by riding a bike, kicking a footy or just going for a walk,” he said.


Staying organised, keeping engaged in class and following a routine were among the tips from Pymble Ladies’ College deputy principal Lamia Rockwell.

To be organised, Ms Rockwell said it was important to set goals and deadlines, finish tasks as soon as possible, block any distractions, make sure your workspace is tidy, and revise in-class learning.

To stay engaged, tips include taking notes and making them interesting, colourful and appealing, writing down any homework given and the due date, close unnecessary tabs and email notifications, be engaged by answering questions and asking or emailing a teacher if you feel lost.

To keep a routine, tips include waking up and going to sleep at similar times each day, getting dressed in your school top/jumper every weekday, taking breaks at similar times each day, making your timetable colourful and following it, and eating healthy snacks.

Tips for exercise include basking in the sunshine and spending time cloud gazing, going for a walk or doing something physically active outside, setting yourself fun goals to achieve or participating in an online exercise or fitness class.

And to beat boredom, Ms Rockwell said tips including trying something new and exciting, reading a book, going on a walk to a different place, doing a crossword, word search or sudoku puzzle, catching up with friends and extended family via email, a phone call or video chat, or watching a new movie.

Ms Rockwell also shared tips for parents including helping children to step away from screens, practising gratitude, breathing through stress, and staying connected to the school.

“Even though schools are operating remotely, teachers and staff are still here to support our students and families – just because we’re online doesn’t mean you can’t connect with us,” she said.

The school also hosts online events including daily exercise classes for all ages, an ongoing program of activities to earn house points in PymlympicGames, live cook-alongs with special guest chefs and trivia nights.

“These events, held outside of school hours, promote the sense of connection and belonging that is so important for the wellbeing of our community while we can’t physically be together,” Ms Rockwell said.


Redlands principal Stephen Webber said learning from home can present a range of challenges for both students and parents, but there are a number of things that can make the experience as positive as possible.

“From creating the right learning environment to making time to stay connected with friends, we can make learning from home productive and enjoyable,” he said.

“It’s also essential that both parents and students don’t put too much pressure on themselves during this period. This is a stressful time for many and it’s important that we are conscious of that and are aware of the support available to manage those stresses and anxieties.”

Redlands head of teaching and learning (P-12) Matthew Bentley and head of preparatory school Ainslie Breckenridge provided the following learning and wellbeing tips for students and parents:

Student learning tips:

– Create a good learning environment by finding an area that is distraction free, use a supportive chair, good lighting, clear workspace, storage space (physical and electronic), create a noticeboard and wear headphones if possible.– Break your day into workable sections.– Have a file management system for your notes.– Use your workbooks where possible as research shows that you retain more of your learning this way rather than just typing your notes.– Have a study timetable for home learning, assessments and revision of learning.

Student wellbeing tips:

– Prepare for the day with snacks and water on hand.– Use any break times to minimise screen time.– Include some time for physical exercise each day.– Make time to stay connected with your friends.– Be flexible and realistic about what you can achieve.

Parent learning tips:

– Prepare for the day by ensuring that your child has snacks, food and water for the day.– Ensure your child sets up and maintains effective study routines, for example, getting up, having breakfast and getting ready for classes at the start of each day.– Ensure your child goes to bed at a reasonable time and at the same time each day.– Ensure that mobile devices are kept in another room during lesson time.

Parent wellbeing tips:– Talk to your child about their learning; ask how they are coping.– Spend some time outdoors with your child, for example, walking, running, cycling.– Ensure some screen free time each day for your child.– Keep connected to the school.– Use resources that the school supplies, for example around wellbeing initiatives.


Willoughby Girls High School is conducting a number of wellbeing initiatives each week to support students.

The initiatives include support during online lessons, check in phone calls and emails with parents and students needing additional support.

“I send all our families my best wishes and many positive thoughts as we all plough on through the lockdown,” principal Elizabeth Diprose said.

© 2021 News Pty Limited.