A Marathon Guide to Being a Virtual School Parent
When you first considered becoming a virtual school parent, did you feel as though you were signing up for a marathon? Now that the school year is almost over, do you fear that you may be about to hit the infamous “runner’s wall”?
Whether you’re an experienced online Learning Coach or just starting out, take a few tips from long distance runners to help you and your student cross the finish line.
How to Win the Race
Refine and revisit your goals.
As all marathon runners know, you need to focus on the goals you’re running toward, one mile at a time. For example, finding a bully-free environment may have sparked your interest in virtual schooling—but that one goal won’t get you and your student through the long haul.
Instead, take incremental steps and periodically revisit your most important educational priorities for your student, such as:
- Instilling a lifelong love of learning.
- Developing the core language, math, and science skills critical to 21st century success.
- Gaining self-confidence in an individualized, supportive environment.
When you’re hitting the runner’s wall at mile 23 or grade 11, it’s the success of achieving smaller goals one at a time that will keep you and your student going.
Study the race course; know what to expect.
Experienced marathon runners know to study the course before the race—from hills to potholes to inspiring views. As a Learning Coach in virtual school, you should know how your role is going to change over time—from close involvement during your student’s elementary school years to a more hands-off, supporting role in the high school years.
Knowing what’s ahead can help you …
Pace yourself; plan your next course.
As you survey the Learning Coach racecourse, you’ll see where and how your time and effort will be invested over the years. Similar to preparing for a marathon, you’ll know that the early years may require a lot of “training” to get your student successfully ready and launched. But you’ll also see that, as your student becomes more independent, you’ll be able to find a steady pace and reinvest your time in your career, your interests, or new family adventures.
Mile by mile and month by month, online planning tools and your student calendar will also tell you when to save your energy for the next hill (class projects) or get ready to enjoy the view (field trip!).
Count on your team.
Successful marathoners know the importance of mentors, coaches, and running buddies. Don’t think you have to slog through this educational race on your own. As a Learning Coach, your team includes:
- Teachers who know your student and best online instruction practices
- School counselors trained to help with social and academic concerns—from building self-esteem to planning for college and career
- Fellow Learning Coaches (your running buddies!) who can help you over the hills with advice and camaraderie
- Family members who can help share the load and “clear the road” for your Learning Coach responsibilities
So count on your team throughout the race, and don’t forget to …
Celebrate the milestones. When you’re running a marathon, every milestone feels like a personal victory. As a virtual school parent, you can see your student pass milestones every week, month, and year—from mastering the multiplication table to passing AP Calculus.
Remember to celebrate those milestones. The race will be over sooner than you think!