Surprising Benefits of Online Schooling for Student Wellbeing and Happiness
Whilst the media has generally concentrated on the negative impact Covid 19 and Online Education had on students across the country, it was not all gloom and doom as they would have you believe. There have been some surprising benefits to online schooling for student wellbeing and happiness; which frankly for online education and virtual school providers like Sophia High School, do not actually come as much surprise.
The recently reported A descriptive analysis of self-reported wellbeing in 17,000 UK school students during Covid-19 lockdown based on the OxWell Student Survey, is a very interesting read in regards to benefits of online schooling. Whilst the gathering of data has limitations, (which is discussed in the report) the survey came up with some very surprising results regarding learning online and raised several benefits to online homeschooling, which we could well heed. Indeed, educators do need to take on board some of the conclusions from this analysis for the future well being of students throughout the country as we look to a future which will see increases in online learning and digital education models.
Benefits to Online Homeschooling - Changes in mental wellbeing, lifestyle and school factors
The report looked at changes in mental wellbeing, lifestyle and school factors during learning online and periods of digital learning.
In 2019 the Government reported that in Year 6 (11-year old’s) almost 34.3 % of students were overweight and obese. The reasons for this are lack of exercise, poor diet and lack of sleep. What is fascinating is that in the Descriptive analysis of self-reported wellbeing in 17,000 UK school students during Covid-19 lockdown reported that, 44% of the students reported having much more or slightly more exercise when Learning Online – which is a rather damning indictment of the lack of physical education in the curriculum across the schools in the UK. While the national curriculum currently has a guideline of two hours per week, this is not mandatory. Even where there is two hours per week of PE on the timetable, the Youth Sport Trust, said it is not uncommon for pupils to be removed from PE for extra classes in other subjects because of accountability pressures.
In 2019 results by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) found that one in three primary school pupils and seven in ten secondary school students get fewer than nine hours of sleep a night, which is under the right amount of sleep recommended by the NHS for these ages. It also discovered many children do not sleep more than seven hours at least once per week. This off-night occurs in 15.1 percent of six-year-olds, 39.1 percent of eight-year-olds, 45.7 percent of 10-year-olds, and 64.5 percent of 12-year-olds.
Research from the Children’s Mental Health Week has also shown that children with less sleep are more likely to struggle with worries. They report that 56% of children say they worry all the time about something. They also report that children who get less sleep are more likely to feel worries get in the way of school work. Other possible health problems associated with poor sleeping patterns include:
• Lack of focus and motivation
• Low mood
…along with a heightened risk of:
• Respiratory problems
• Heart disease
Again, the Descriptive analysis of self-reported wellbeing in 17,000 UK school students during Covid-19 lockdown, reported that 49% of the students reported having much more or slightly more sleep when engaging in Online Education. Outlining key findings that students are not getting enough sleep prior to Covid 19.
UK curriculum gives little time for creativity and the ability for students to think outside of the box.
American author and lecturer, Alfie Kohn, once said that “Children learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not following directions.” Part of this decision making is the ability to manage school tasks on your own without outside influence. Again, the Descriptive analysis of self-reported wellbeing in 17,000 UK school students during Covid-19 lockdown, reported that 42% of the students reported that they were managing school tasks much or slightly better during periods of Education Online. Outlining key findings that students are not given the chance to organise themselves better and make key decisions in their physical bricks and mortar schools. All too often students are spoon-fed in traditional settings as schools chase league tables and the modern UK curriculum gives little time for creativity and the ability for students to think outside of the box.
The Report also looked changes in mental wellbeing and relational factors as a result of Online Learning; the conclusions were even more damning:
• Bullying of all forms was down by 92%. It is interesting to note that this is much more prevalent in schools that parents think. Heads across the UK report that 29% of students bully on a weekly basis – and those are only the ones reported on. The numbers, I am sure are much higher than this.
• A sense of alienation was down – 51% of students felt they were not being left out and 45% felt less lonely.
When it came to handling relationships:
• 53% of students felt were getting of better with members of their own household as a result of learning online and periods of Education Online.
• 41% of the students felt they were getting along better with their friends due to online homeschooling.
Government needs to tackle the mental well being of children in physical schools
So, what does this all mean. Well, that is open to interpretation. What is clear that the Government needs to tackle the mental well being of children in physical schools. The descriptive analysis of self-reported wellbeing in 17,000 UK school students during Covid-19 lockdown based on the OxWell Student Survey, has highlighted key areas where the student was better off at home engaging in online education and remote learning, than at a physical school.
The Government and Heads across the UK can not simply bury their heads in the sand. They do need to come up with a concrete response to the ever-increasing number of students who not only need help with their mental wellbeing, but feel that it should be a vital part of the school’s curriculum. Afterall, the ability to know yourself with all your strengths and limitations and knowing how to get to grips with relationships of any kind are the most vital skills anyone will ever learn in life.
Join us at Sophia High School
Whether your family is is looking for support with online homeschooling you simply want your child to reap all the benefits of online schooling by joining a digital learning virtual school and is considering online schools in UK, we’d love to welcome you to our global learning community.