Humanlike pink cat in yellow clothing looking over a railing. Caption says: "Me listening to my whole family talk about me"

Learning from Home Helps Teens Understand Themselves

Humanlike pink cat in yellow clothing looking over a railing. Caption says: "Me listening to my whole family talk about me"

(Pink Cat illustration by Saba Moeel)

Commentary, Various Authors

Editor’s Note: The pandemic has caused a lot of changes. Pushing school out of the classroom and into our homes has been one of the biggest. So we asked Richmond teens to tell us how this time has affected how they feel about school and what they’ve learned about themselves. Their responses have been lightly edited.

What has the pandemic helped you understand about yourself and your education? 

In my educational experience, I feel like I haven’t really learned anything. Maybe a little lesson here and there has been helpful and fun. Living through the pandemic has been a blessing and a curse. The pandemic has been good for me knowing how to be by myself, knowing how to make use of my time and to do whatever in life while I can. The bad side to the pandemic was no sports, no social interactions and being stuck on social media.

I miss doing things in person for school. I don’t mind being alone but not for a long time. I’ve become independent through time and learned a lot. I’ve matured through just taking time to myself and living in the present.

— Michael Souksumphan, 18

It is a bit easier for me to do my work and concentrate during online school. I get up, do my business and go to class without having to worry how I look or anything. I’m not sure if I even want to go back to school just because I like online school better.

I have learned about geometry, chemistry, history and digital arts. I learned how to code a game, something I would have never thought I would learn. Geometry is way harder than it looks.

I have learned I really want to be successful in life, no matter the cost. And I should give my full attention to my studies.

— Alexandra Zarate, 16

I needed to get used to learning at home. Learning in an environment that could give that motivation that school gave was something little to think about but made such a big difference. I had to re-create that kind of experience in my home. When I traveled from home to school, I understood that I was going to an environment to learn, and learn from teachers and mentors.

— Zuriel Rodriguez, 18

During the pandemic, my life has changed drastically. Nothing is the same as it used to be. Education became moderate and distant. I don’t know what some of my teachers or classmates look like. However, in this period of time I have learned to value the simple things in life such as eating in a restaurant, playing soccer at school with my friends, or even chilling in the classrooms during lunchtime. Regardless, life goes on, and we have to get used to this new lifestyle.

One of the factors that has impacted me the most in this pandemic is school. Senior year was supposed to be one of the most memorable times of high school where we enjoy some of our wild days.

I’ve learned how to be more independent and how to manage my time. Now, I don’t rely on teachers or my peers like I used to. This has made me progress in my own pace.

— Alondra Carmona, 17


I want to go back, but at the same time I don’t. I actually work harder here than normal school. I’ve also learned school has a lot of distractions, like friends and things like that. I also don’t want to go back because of personal problems I had in school.

But at the same time, I do want to go back because I haven’t been social in a long time, and that’s a very important life skill to have. It can help you in many situations like getting a job and speaking out when something isn’t right.

Life is quick, and there is no time to waste. I can’t go alone on my journey; I need people to help me out — family or friends. There are obstacles in life you can’t really get past on your own.

— Andres Hernandez, 16

>>>Read: WCCUSD Students Reflect on Challenges, Benefits of Distance Learning

I have learned many things during the pandemic. I didn’t realize how important in-person school is. I would see familiar faces everyday. It kept me in a routine. Now, I am not motivated to do anything. I took in-person school for granted.

I learn in-person completely differently than online. The amount of confusion I deal with at home is crazy. I am always so stressed and unmotivated, I usually just give up. Being a procrastinator doesn’t help at all either. I want to go back to in-person school so I can understand everything.

Olinda Figueredo, 15 

Learning online and learning at school is very different. Online learning is not really learning to me. In school, you don’t have many distractions, which helps with learning. Online, you have family members and many other things that can make you not focused.

I have wanted to do many things, and now is the time to start them. [I’ve been] thinking about the future and what I should do to have a good future. I realized that in a few years I am going to be an adult have to do things such as having a job, paying bills and going to college. All of those things are going to become reality soon.

Aaliyha Sandoval, 16

In the pandemic I have learned many things. Mental health is really important. Before, I had distractions — like school, college program, etc. — but now being in the house with no distractions and time to think, I’ve learned how much I needed to take care of myself mentally. I have also learned life can be easily taken from you, so you should appreciate not just your life but others around you.

— Hitarjanea Smith, 15

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