5 Ways to Help Online Students Transition to Middle School
It’s true—your child is growing up! Middle school is an exciting time for preteens, one that comes with different expectations, responsibilities, and challenges. And with online learning, you can encourage and motivate your student every step of the way.
Parental involvement is key during the middle school years, when students transition to more complex and demanding coursework. Use the tips and online middle school success stories below to inspire you as you guide your preteen through a new academic chapter.
Support more independent learning.
In middle school, parents can slowly take a step back as students start to become more independent learners. The amount will vary for each child, but many Connections Academy Learning Coaches say they spend about two to three hours per day guiding their middle school student. You can support your child’s transition to independent learning by doing things such as encouraging him or her to reach out to the teacher when needed and frequently providing an academic confidence boost.
Monitor grades and progress.
Although many middle school students will start to learn more independently, it’s still important to regularly monitor their grades and progress. One of the great benefits of being an online school parent is having more opportunities to stay actively involved in your child’s academic journey. If students are behind on a particular assignment or course, try helping them make a plan for improving and strengthening their learning skills. You could also ask the teacher for more insight into any areas of concern.
Discuss high school credit options.
Earning high school credits in middle school is a great way for gifted learners to take more-challenging courses while getting a head start on high school requirements. Several Connections Academy®–supported online schools offer middle school students a wide range of advanced and gifted and talented courses. If your student is interested in advancing, consider having a discussion with him or her about high school credit options.
Encourage participation in clubs and extracurricular activities.
Middle school can be a good time for your student to join school clubs and extracurricular activities as he or she begins to feel more self-assured and independent. Clubs and activities often allow students to further explore passions and discover new ones. They can also help students to develop communication and leadership skills, learn the value of teamwork, and connect and collaborate with classmates who share their interests. Students at Connections Academy schools have many online activities and clubs to choose from, including Robotics Club and Chess Club.
Schedule a daily or weekly check-in.
Be sure to check in with your student at the end of each school day or week. You can ask questions such as “What’s something interesting that you learned?”; “What was your favorite part of the day or week?”; “Is there anything that you’re having trouble with?” Maintaining an open dialogue will not only allow you to better gauge academic development but also help students to feel supported, motivated, and encouraged during more rigorous academic grade levels.
Online Middle School Superstars
Learn how these Connections Academy middle school students are achieving both personal and academic goals.
Lillian Connolly, Ohio Connections Academy (OCA), grade 7
Lillian Connolly switched to OCA looking for a more welcoming learning environment. She enjoys learning at a pace and at a time of day that suits her, without having to wait for classmates to catch up. The school’s scheduling flexibility also allows Lillian to train and travel for figure-skating competitions.
Matthew Frye, South Carolina Connections Academy (SCCA), grade 8
With the option to learn wherever there is an Internet connection, SCCA student Matthew Frye can keep up with school while on the road with his family for their traveling concession stand. He likes connecting and building friendships with his classmates through real-time online sessions. Matthew’s mom, Karen, is pleased that SCCA provides him with a wide range of learning tools and resources to succeed.
Naomi Cain, Great Lakes Cyber Academy (GLCA), grade 8
Naomi Cain is getting a more personalized and more enjoyable learning experience at GLCA than she did in a traditional bricks-and-mortar setting. Now that she doesn’t have to worry about being in a crowded classroom, Naomi is more engaged with her schoolwork.
Ryan Williams, Arizona Connections Academy (ACA), grade 8
Through online learning, dancer Ryan Williams can balance his personal dreams with schoolwork. With a customized school schedule, he is able to take intensive dance classes and compete internationally. Ryan’s parents are confident that ACA will help prepare him for being successful in online college courses in the future.
Jadzia Onorati-Phillips, Michigan Connections Academy (MICA), grade 8
A busy gymnast, Jadzia Onorati-Phillips opted for online school at MICA. She is grateful that the school gives her the opportunity to receive a high-quality education while pursuing her passion. Jadzia likes learning with supportive teachers who help to make school fun.
With your continued guidance and support, middle school students can successfully reach an exciting but more demanding educational milestone.
How do you guide your online middle school student and help him or her succeed? Share your story and advice in the comments!