Guest post by Beau Peters
Ask a thousand Brits, and it’s unlikely you’ll find anyone who names 2020 as their favourite year. Our nation and our world have faced the crucible in the past 12 months and it looks like we’re going to stay there for yet a while longer.
When you have a family, however, and especially when you have little ones looking to you for comfort and protection, you simply have no choice but to persevere. That, fortunately, is what the British do best.
Nevertheless, our world has unquestionably changed, and as you and your family accommodate this new normal, you’re likely going to need to make some adjustments, not only to the way you and your family live today. Pandemic living has likely awakened you to some truths that you may not have had the time or the energy to recognise before. Or it may have you reconsidering what you want for yourself and the people you love.
This article looks at the resources that may be available to your family both to help you cope through the current crisis and to plan for a healthier, happier, more stable, and more prosperous future to come.
Learning On Lockdown
With the advent of the second wave of COVID-19 and, in particular, with the emergence of a new and far more transmissible strain of the virus, parents across the United Kingdom are finding themselves faced, once again, with educating their children from home. Currently, there is no definitive plan as to when schools will reopen, but officials seem to concur that in-person schooling will likely not resume until sometime around Easter.
However, your child may be eligible for in-person schooling, despite the current lockdowns, though the criteria are stringent. For example, in the UK, schools remain open for select groups of students, including some children with special needs, for those with child-protection plans, and the children of essential workers. To determine whether your child might qualify for an early return to campus, contact your child’s school or district council.
If it is determined, however, that your child is not eligible to return to school at this point, don’t panic. You still have options to help you manage your child’s homeschooling and your own work needs. Free online resources available from the Institute of Education can equip you both with the information and the tools you need to make remote learning a success. This clearinghouse even includes resources for supporting students with special learning needs, including those on the autism spectrum and those for whom English is a second language.
As the pandemic rages on, it’s not only your child’s education that you’re probably worried about. The economic turmoil created by the virus might have you feeling the need to advance your education, acquire new skills, or finally go after that licensure or certification that may lead to greater professional and financial security.
The reality, though, is that when you’re a working adult, especially one with young and school-age children, the British university system is not always ideal, even in the best of times. Though modifications to the existing system are being strongly considered, the old system, at least for now, remains in effect. And that means, in general, that if you want to attend university and you need to apply for fee and maintenance support, you’ll need to commit to at least 25% of a full course load, as well as the pursuit of a qualification.
The good news, however, is that if you are not yet ready to commit to returning to university, there are still a myriad of options for learning new skills and building up those credentials. Low-cost training and certification programmes provided by some of the world’s leading universities are available online through third-party vendors, such as Coursera.
These courses can not only help you build an irresistible skillset for your CV but, depending on the university, they may be applied as credits toward your qualification, which can significantly reduce the total, often prohibitive, cost of advanced schooling.
Before embarking on online courses, however, it’s important to have a strategy in place to set yourself up for success. Even some of the UK’s most prestigious universities are struggling with the transition to online learning. This is not due to any deficiency in the digital learning format itself — only to a lack of knowledge and infrastructure surrounding this (relatively) new academic medium.
So before leaping yourself, be certain to do your homework. Start slowly, reach out to administrators and professors for support, and ensure you have a dedicated workspace and manageable schedule. The clearer you can be about the process before embarking, the less stress, confusion, and frustration you will experience as you settle in.
Tap Into Your Passion
As challenging as life under lockdown may be, this is also a time of tremendous opportunity. If you are experiencing reduced working hours or a furlough, you might be looking for new ways to grow your income from home. The great news is that whether you’re in the midst of the bustling London metropolis, or nestled in the English countryside, if you have internet access, you can make money from home. And the possibilities are virtually endless, including everything from online tutoring and freelance writing to paid surveys.
But if you’re looking to turn your side hustle into a full-fledged business, this, too, is an ideal time. The key is to research your target market, understand your target customers’ needs and where and how your potential competitors may be failing to meet it, and then use that information to set yourself and your services apart.
For now, your business may be entirely digital, and that means you’ll need to hone your online marketing and branding skills. However, if you know your customers and, above all, if you know your unique talents, then selling yourself and your services gets much easier.
For example, if you are looking to build your writing and editing company, start with a website and a portfolio of some of your best work. And don’t forget to include a blog that you update regularly. This in itself can be a terrific source of ad revenue, generating some extra income as you work to build your baby business from the ground up.
Life under pandemic conditions isn’t easy, especially if you are a working parent. However, managing your child’s education while maintaining your household finances can be done. By capitalising on the resources available to you, you and your family can make it work, pushing through to a brighter tomorrow.