6 Keys for Online Students to Develop Independent Study Skills
Watching your child’s education develop before your eyes is a truly gratifying experience. Being able to witness the “aha!” moments when concepts are mastered and lessons completely understood is priceless for many parents.
But what about those times when your child isn’t able to grasp the material right away? When he or she stumbles through the lessons and can’t seem to complete the accompanying activities?
As a Learning Coach, you are not responsible for teaching lessons to your online school student, but rather for playing an active role in reinforcing study habits that lead to success. Since online teachers are there to determine your child’s needs, develop individualized learning plans, and handle the teaching, your role is to assist your student to become an independent online learner. Here are some important techniques to help foster effective learning:
- Mastering the art of note-taking. Just because your student is taking notes during an online lesson doesn’t mean that he or she is doing so effectively. If you notice that your child is struggling to grasp the most important information, it may be time to work on note-taking strategies. Some of these include:
- previewing the readings
- paying attention to boldface words and headings
- reworking main ideas into concepts that are easily understood
- being attentive to captions
- using different modes of note-taking, including highlighters, sticky notes, index cards, graphs, charts, and diagrams
- making sure the notes taken answer/reference the objectives and questions that accompany each lesson
- Providing a variety of learning materials. Your child may need more than just a pen and paper to learn. Make sure you have helpful tools such as whiteboards and graph paper, so students can display information in different ways. When it comes to math and science, being able to physically act out concepts is critical. Many online schools also offer a wealth of high-tech instructional tools that can help bring learning to life.
- Utilizing online discussions. One of the unique features of virtual schools is that students can interact in real-time classroom sessions. Encourage your child to use these opportunities to start discussions about difficult concepts. Input from peers can be an incredibly effective learning tool.
- Developing good study habits. Repetition is the key to retention, so play around with different ways to review notes and absorb information. Play review games, do quizzes with notecards, and create sample test questions to help your student use the information he or she is learning in different ways.
- Clearly identifying objectives. Make sure your child understands what he or she is supposed to get out of each lesson or activity before it begins. With objectives that are as clear as possible, students can more easily determine what information they need to learn and how it is going to benefit them in their studies.
- Monitoring progress. Online schools make it easy for you to keep track of how your students are doing and to view their grades at any time. As soon as you notice a dip in your student’s performance, you can identify the problem and take the steps necessary to fix it.
Encourage your students to reflect on their progress, and have them think about the way they learn best. Which study tools were most useful? What areas do they still need to improve upon? And, if you notice that your child is struggling to learn certain concepts, let his or her teacher know. Then you can all work together to develop solutions that will contribute to more effective studying and better comprehension.
How have you helped your student become an effective online learner? Share your successes with us!