How a Teenager Handles Online Learning in Quarantine

In our Day in the Quarantine Life series, we’re chatting with Canadians about their new normal, exploring how they organize their days and balance their home lives with work obligations. Here, Hannah Alper, a 17-year-old student, activist and motivational speaker, shares how she’s adjusting to learning outside of the classroom.

10 a.m.

I wake up later than everyone else in my family. Since I’m doing my grade 11 classes through online learning because of Covid, it’s been refreshing not having to wake up at 7:30 a.m. like I normally would pre-quarantine. 

While I’m still in bed, I take a deep breath. It grounds me. I’m big on gratitude, but I’m not much of a zen and meditative person, so that’s my “quote unquote” meditation for the day.

I check my Instagram notifications, then I hop in the shower, put on some comfy sweats and head downstairs for breakfast. My mom has one of Alanis Morissette’s hits blaring from the kitchen and it immediately puts me in a good mood. I make my favourite morning dish: oatmeal with fruit and chocolate chips on top.

11:30 a.m.

After I eat, I get started on my online learning. I’m taking math, world religion, sociology, psychology, and law this semester. Today is math; my teacher provides three assignments. On average, I probably end up doing three to four hours of schooling a day. 

My district actually isn’t allowed to do video classes. Instead, we have Google Classroom where our teachers are able to post different assessments, readings, and articles. In terms of face-to-face time with our teachers, there is always the option for a weekly check-in over video chat. But basically, I do the work, submit it, and it gets graded. It’s very much a go-at-your-own-pace kind of learning. 

I really miss learning in a classroom setting—working with friends on projects and being able to ask my teachers for help in-person and not over an online platform. But I’m trying to look at the bright side of things. There are a lot of positive aspects to online learning: it’s taught me how to self-motivate and how to be more independent with my school work.

It’s almost as if this is preparing us for when we’re in university or at our first job in the workplace. We’re not going to have people reminding us every single second to get things done, so it’s important that we understand how to motivate ourselves. I’m very grateful for my education no matter what environment I’m learning in. 

3:30 p.m.

I eat some leftover pizza from last night for lunch and go on a two-hour walk in my neighbourhood to get some fresh air. Nature is one thing that’s kept me sane right now, and I’ve come to realize that it’s something I don’t appreciate enough.

I’ve been exploring a lot over the past two months. I discovered this new trail a few weeks ago not too far from my house that has this beautiful serene creek, so I’ve been going there when the weather’s nice to clear my head. 

6 p.m.

When I get home, I like to journal. I wasn’t much into journal writing before Covid, but it has given me the opportunity to actually check-in with myself. I’m the president of a youth organization and my term is ending in a few days, so I have been using this time to reflect on everything that I’ve learned over the past year. It’s been very therapeutic.

8 p.m.

My family and I would normally eat around 6 p.m. pre-quarantine, but my parents’ work schedules are a bit different right now, so we eat as a family a bit later on in the evening. I don’t mind it. My mom and I decide to make a somewhat healthy dinner: pesto pasta with chicken and broccoli. We watch an episode of Ozark on Netflix while we eat.

I have a close relationship with my mom and dad, but I’ve really been appreciating these family nights spent on the couch watching Netflix of all things.

10 p.m.

I head upstairs to wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on my pajamas. I hop into bed and FaceTime with one of my friends. Video chatting is definitely something that’s given me a lot of joy lately. I’ve even reconnected with people that I haven’t talked to in a while, so that’s been really nice. 

I’ve come to realize how much I value talking to people. When social distancing comes to an end, I’m going to cherish and be more grateful for the time that I get to spend with others face-to-face rather than through my phone screen. 

In the meantime, I’m really just trying to find the positivity in the world. As a young activist and motivational speaker, I’ve been using my online platform to share good news. I think it’s the kind of news we need to hear right now. John Krasinski has a show on YouTube called SomeGoodNews, and I’ve been sharing his episodes on my social. I love that he’s using his presence during this time to dedicate his platform to sharing highlights of only good news from around the world.

I’m also a firm believer in that little things can add up to make a big difference. There’s a non-profit organization that I’ve been following for a while called Do Something and they share things that you can do in your own life to make a difference in your community. Maybe that’s sending a thank-you letter to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, raising money for an organization, or picking up litter in your own neighbourhood. I just want people to feel good right now I guess. 

As told to Alyssa Ball.