Parent-Tested Advice for Online School Success, Part 2
Online school is a fantastic fit for parents who wish to be more involved in their children’s education. Serving as the student’s Learning Coach, a parent or other trusted adult supports the student’s learning—and many find the experience quite rewarding! While this may sound extraordinary, these involved parents aren’t superheroes; they are regular people who have learned the ropes of virtual school and figured out how it works best for their families.
While online school usually means doing school at home, one way it’s different from traditional homeschooling is that there are teachers who do the teaching. Depending upon your child’s age, supporting a child’s education may mean things like structuring the daily schedule, providing reminders, communicating with teachers, and keeping the student on track to complete courses on time, but every family does this a bit differently!
The first part of this series covered the Learning Coach mind-set, getting prepared, and doing the schoolwork. In this post, successful online school parents share their best tips for scheduling, working with teachers, and giving students responsibility.
Create a daily routine
One of the most important things a Learning Coach can do is to help guide and structure the student’s daily schedule. Here are some idea to get you started.
“Staying in a routine of getting dressed and having breakfast has helped my daughter to get into the mind-set of school.” —Jennifer B.
“Schedule school time every day. It can be different each day, but having a set time to get [schoolwork] done really helps us stay on track.” —Caroline R.
“Have a schedule, but be flexible! Teach your kids a routine, but also teach them to be flexible. Life does not always fit into a perfect schedule or box! Also, strive for independence. Don’t micromanage. Encourage your children to make their own choices and to pace themselves.” —Beth C.
“My daughter has to get up at a certain time and be ready to start. She can work as long as she needs. If she decides to work ahead, she finds that she has more free time for other things that she wants to or has to do during the school day.” —Kathy A.
“Have the daily schedule posted, for not only you to see, but also your students!” —Amanda W.
“I would recommend having each of your students on a schedule to help keep each child on track. We usually set aside an hour for each course, and if needed we will add extra time for a subject in which the child needs more help. We also try to have at least thirty minutes set aside each day for reading and thirty minutes to an hour each afternoon for studying or reviewing. Take breaks when needed so your child can get a refresher and doesn’t become overwhelmed. Adjust your schedule as needed to suit your child.” —Vicki B.
“My son is now in eleventh grade, and he finds it easier to be a few days ahead on his assignments. This leaves room for sick days, family days, and so on.” —Shannon H.
Working with teachers
Caring, qualified teachers make a huge difference for parents who wish to educate their children at home. Online school teachers are there to instruct and are available to answer questions or provide one-on-one assistance. Here’s how Learning Coaches and students recommend you work with your teachers.
“Communicate openly with the teachers as you are figuring things out. I emailed my children’s teacher pretty much daily to ask for help and share my frustrations, and she was a great support and encouraged me very much when I was feeling lost or overwhelmed. I am so grateful for her support. We figured things out within weeks, and now we have found our groove. We love and highly recommend Connections Academy!” —Kira M.
“At first I tried figure it all out by myself and not ‘bug’ the teachers. But the teachers are great and love to help. Have your kids attend LiveLesson® sessions and talk to their teachers when scheduled. By working together with the teachers, you can avoid a lot a frustration and stress for everyone.” —Nadine C.
“Attend and participate in the online LiveLesson [sessions]. Get to know your teachers and make yourself known. Also, do the work. Communication with your teacher, Learning Coach, and counselors is key. Most of all, have a great time!” —Brenda S.
“If you need help, ask. Teachers and staff are there to assist you and help your kids to succeed. Don’t wait until the last minute to get those questions answered.” —Alda J. M.
Make your student responsible for learning
One advantage of virtual school is that students learn to take charge of their own learning and to manage their time efficiently. Here’s what Learning Coaches say about encouraging their children to be independent learners.
“Let your kiddos who are in middle or high school pace themselves—at least until they totally mess up. Then sit down and set reasonable expectations with them. Now we have a few ‘rules’ that work for our kids, and they know that we have them because they needed boundaries.” —Tracie N.
“If your children are in middle school or high school, give them the responsibility for getting assignments done on time. Set up some type of consequences (beyond receiving a less than acceptable grade) if they don’t. Possibly make up a contract with them so they know ahead of time what will happen if they don’t do their best.” —Kathy A.
“Let your child take the lead. Be an example of how to take initiative to get the work done. Ask for help from the teachers when the Learning Coach or student needs it. The teachers have been awesome to our family!” —Angie F.
“Allow the students to discover success. So many times as a Learning Coach, you will want to intervene and take over. Don’t do it! Allow [your students] to discover that they can accomplish so much when they set their mind on an end goal. Yes, you can help, guide, and encourage, but let them take the lead.” —Lee Kayleen W.
“On Mondays, my daughter plans what assignments will be completed each day for the week. She attends LiveLesson sessions, and emails or calls teachers with questions as needed.” —Carrie C.
Remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to be a Learning Coach! It’s all about meeting your family’s needs and personalizing learning to best help your child succeed academically and emotionally. We hope these tips will help all of you make the most of the online school experience.