Tips for Balancing Time between Multiple Virtual School Students
This is a guest post by Jane Kummer-Meyer, a Learning Coach from Wisconsin.
Working with multiple children in a virtual school or homeschool setting can at first seem daunting, but with some organization and planning, and a bit of flexibility, it can be quite manageable. For the past three years, I have had four boys enrolled in Wisconsin Connections Academy, and during that time I’ve been the Learning Coach for grades ranging from kindergarten through 12th. I definitely had to find creative ways to simultaneously give all of my children the support and attention they need, ensure success, and maintain my own sanity.
It doesn’t have to be stressful! Here are a few key things I do to help balance my time between each of my boys:
- Having a schedule is imperative. With a schedule, I can plan to work with my youngest son when the older ones are doing an online class session or working independently. A schedule also helps keep the kids focused on their responsibilities as online students. One great feature of online learning is the ability to be flexible, so if we have an appointment or special event, we tweak the schedule. If my students ever get behind, we talk about how or why this happened and what adjustments they need to make to their schedules to get back on track. This is a great way to teach them how to effectively manage their own time and to take ownership of their own learning.
- Use online planning tools. Connections Academy has an amazing online tool called a scheduler. This program is basically a daily and monthly calendar of lessons that helps students and Learning Coaches stay on task. It also helps us to keep track of academic progress by allowing me to track grades on a daily basis! It alerts me to any lessons that each child may be struggling with, allowing me to give the extra guidance needed or to contact the appropriate teacher for assistance.
- Ask teachers for support. The fact that teachers help my children work through concepts that may be difficult to grasp, and are available to answer questions, is so important when working with multiple students. It allows each child to have access to the individual help from a licensed teacher. My children attend sessions where their teacher presents a lesson and they are able to interact in a classroom-like setting via the computer. My children contact their teachers by WebMail or a phone call to ask questions or get extra help. Regular interaction with teachers is an extremely valuable component of this program, especially when you have multiple students.
- Make younger ones feel more involved. I’ve learned that my younger kids like to mimic their older siblings. I try to capitalize on this by giving them work that’s similar to what the older students are working on but that is more at their level. For example, they can practice making letters while I help an older sibling with an English essay. If you still have preschoolers or toddlers, you could give them a box filled with their own version of school supplies. Often being there and being part of school time can keep them happy, content, and contained. However, if they interrupt a lot, sometimes it’s a good idea to schedule some one-on-one time with your little ones so they don’t feel left out.
- Keep the study zone organized. Another strategy I use in my home is to have a central location set up for schooling supplies and resources. This helps keep us organized and establishes a learning environment, which seems to help my students stay focused on their tasks. Also, each boy has a study area in his room where he is able to go when he needs a quiet place to concentrate.
With the right tools and some planning, you can be a successful Learning Coach for multiple virtual school students, and without additional stress! Share your own tactics and ideas for facilitating learning in your home with multiple children.