Creating an Effective Online Learning Environment at Home
My name is Kim McConnell, and this is my first blog post of tips, tricks, and recommendations regarding how to map out your personal plan for successful learning in an online education environment. As a parent of four children, I had the opportunity to home school my kids for five years, and I was an online Learning Coach for another five years. Now I am an online teacher at a Pennsylvania cyber school. Through my experiences, I’ve learned what it takes to keep online students motivated and help them succeed, from both a parent’s and an educator’s perspective.
When kids in grades K–12 begin attending an online school, what can you do to help them thrive when learning online?
One of the most important things you can do is create a positive and supportive learning environment. To accomplish this, consider the following suggestions:
- Concentrate on learning. Having clutter-free workspaces is important for your child’s concentration (and your sanity). Removing distractions and creating spaces where your child can be comfortable learning each play a big role in how peaceful the entire educational process feels—for both of you.
- Be flexible. No matter how focused your child is, there are going to be certain days when the proposed study plan isn’t working. Maybe a particularly tricky math concept is causing frustration, or perhaps a writing assignment has really left your child stumped. In these cases, stay flexible and don’t hesitate to make any necessary adjustments. Switch subjects, let your child work on his or her favorite subject for a while, or even initiate a spontaneous 30-minute backyard break. Deviating from the plan can sometimes be the best thing you can do to maintain your child’s motivation.
- Stay positive. When your child is frustrated or annoyed, your positivity will be soothing and encouraging. Without positive parental backup, younger online learners, especially, may lose their motivation and slack off from their work.
- Identify what’s working, and get rid of what’s not. Have your students make a list of the things they like and dislike about attending online school. Sit down together and go over the list, and come up with solutions to the “dislikes” wherever possible.
- Keep a Learning Coach journal. Consider keeping track of the strategies you’ve tried, so you can quickly reference what has worked and what hasn’t from your own Learning Coach experiences. You may find that your earlier writings inspire you later down the road.
- Maintain open lines of communication. This means really listening to what your child wants, as well as making sure you clearly outline your own expectations. Both you and your child have to be comfortable with being honest when something isn’t working, and then you’ll be able to propose new solutions.
I hope these tips will help you in your Learning Coach journey. What strategies are you applying so far to help your child learn more effectively from home?