Quick and Kid-Friendly Summer Grilling Recipe Ideas

By: Beth Werrell
Kid-Friendly Summer Grilling Recipe Ideas

Summertime offers a great opportunity to teach your child useful cooking skills with kid-friendly grilling recipes. Have your child help you make fun summer drinks, choose unique barbecue recipes, and prepare fresh ingredients for pick-and-choose grilling stations.

You can handle the knives and the grilling portion while teaching your child important safety lessons.

Let’s Start with Drinks

There are plenty of fun summer drinks that involve little prep work. Here are a few recipes you can try with your child.

  • With only four ingredients, watermelon lemonade offers a simple, sweet treat your child can whip up in a blender, with your supervision.
  • "Banana Bonkers" offer a fruity alternative to punch! With bananas, grapefruit juice, and a little sherbet, it's a refreshing recipe that can double as a dessert throughout the summer.
  • While you may not miss the winter weather, this doesn't mean you aren't missing winter treats. If frozen hot chocolate sounds good, it's a simple recipe your child can put together using only four ingredients, topped with whipped cream.
  • Does your child have a sweet tooth? How about trying minty iced green tea instead? This recipe involves little prep and a few natural ingredients for a healthier beverage option.
Pick-and-Choose Grilling Options

If your child isn't able to help in the kitchen but would like to be involved in the meal, food stations are an easy way to let him or her pick and choose.

Skewers are a simple way to mix and match ingredients so the ...

Advice from Former Learning Coach Newbies

By: Beth Werrell
Advice from Virtual School Learning Coaches

New to online learning? As a "newbie" Learning Coach, you may have some questions and concerns—and this is perfectly normal! After all, when beginning any new "job," whether paid or volunteer, it can take a while to learn your new role and its responsibilities. During this kind of transition, it also helps to have someone show you the ropes. That's why, in the spirit of mentoring, we have gathered some great Learning Coach tips and advice from experienced Connections Academy families to help your transition into virtual school.

Be Mentally Prepared

Accept the idea that while you are becoming a virtual school Learning Coach, you will experience a learning curve. Stick with it, and don't be too hard on yourself. Start with an open mind and an appreciation for the challenges the role may entail. Set aside time to familiarize yourself with the interactive web tools and resources. Plan to attend an information session and any orientations offered by your school. Taking these steps will prepare you and your child for success in virtual school and help you tackle each day with a positive attitude.
Learning Coach Danielle B. Quote

Be Patient

Every student is unique. Each one learns at his or her own pace and flourishes in different subject areas. Don't compare your student to others. It's important to learn to be patient with his or her learning style and speed—after all, accommodating a child's individual needs and preferences is one of the great advantages of this type of schooling.
Learning Coach Kelley A. Quote

Be Organized...

Learning Foreign Languages in Online School

By: Beth Werrell
Learning Foreign Languages in Virtual Schools

For today's students, mastering a world language is more than just a college admissions requirement—it can be a competitive advantage when searching for a job. As international trade and research has expanded, so has the demand for multilingual employees who can communicate with people worldwide. And with more language options and enhanced methods for practicing and gaining fluency in a second language, virtual schools are helping students prepare for success in the global economy.

Unexpected Benefits of Learning Another Language

While job hunting may be years in the future for your child, research proves that learning other languages benefits students in a variety of surprising ways. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages reports that early language learning improves children's cognitive abilities in many areas, including memory, intelligence, and problem solving.

Academics can also be enhanced by learning another language. In study after study, language students have demonstrated better reading skills in English than their peers who do not study a second language.

Regardless of the second language they are studying, students improve their word-study skills and make gains in their verbal expression of math and science. Additionally, language students of all ages perform better on standardized tests, including the SAT and ACT, which are used for college admissions.

Expanded World Language Course Choices

While many school districts are scaling back on the number of courses they offer, a high-quality online school may actually provide a wide range of foreign language options. For example, in addition ...

What You Should Know About Online AP Courses

By: Penny Reeves
How AP Courses Benefit Virtual School Students

Do you have a talent for or a special interest in a particular subject in school? For high school and, sometimes, middle school students, Advanced Placement (AP) courses offer a more challenging course experience. Additionally, AP courses can boost college applications, nurture critical-thinking skills, and help students achieve higher standardized test scores.

Here are some things to keep in mind when reviewing the available courses at your school, including what you should know about the differences and similarities of traditional classroom and online AP courses.

What Are AP Courses, and Who Should Take Them?

Advanced Placement courses are demanding college-level courses developed by the College Board, a nonprofit organization that helps students transition to higher education. AP classes can range from art history to calculus and are based on your child's school course offerings. These courses help students prepare for the national AP exams. Depending on a student's scores and the college or university he or she will attend, AP exams can count toward early college credit.

Will High School Students Get the Same AP Education Online?

There are very few differences between taking AP courses online and in a brick-and-mortar classroom, yet you should be aware of these differences.

In order for an AP course to be approved, the syllabus must be submitted and approved by the College Board. In a traditional school setting, the AP course teacher submits the syllabus. However, in an online school setting, the curriculum department submits the syllabi for all AP ...

Fill a Summer of Fun with Sidewalk Chalk Activities

By: Beth Werrell
Activities with Sidewalk Chalk

As summer approaches, creating a plan to keep your child active and learning is important. As you help to keep your child focused until summer break, start gathering ideas for the warm weather.

One item that can get you and your child through the summer months is sidewalk chalk. It’s a fun, simple solution for summer days when no activities have been planned. With sidewalk chalk, your child can broaden his or her education, push creative boundaries, and keep his or her body moving.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Brainy Sidewalk Chalk Ideas

Print out a constellation chart and have your child pick a few constellations. Then have him or her lay the star pattern on the sidewalk using pennies or other small objects. Connecting the dots with sidewalk chalk creates the full picture.

Draw life-size dinosaurs with real measurements using a dinosaur database and a tape measure. Have your child choose one large dinosaur and one smaller dinosaur, if space allows. Measure out the length and width of each dinosaur on a driveway or parking lot, and mark each measurement point. Then, using a photograph for reference, help your child draw out the dinosaur within your marked measurements.

Build your child’s memory with an updated game of Simon. Start with four different colors of sidewalk chalk. Build out your Simon play area by sectioning out your colors into four sections in a circle. Be sure to leave an uncolored hole in the middle of ...

How National Honor Society Works in Online High School

By: Stephanie Osorno
How the National Honor Society Works in Virtual School

Each year, schools across the nation offer students various opportunities to further explore academic and personal interests. Among these opportunities is a long-standing and esteemed organization that promotes leadership, academic excellence, and initiative, the National Honor Society (NHS).

While this prominent group may be known for being “traditional,” it is available in select virtual schools—and Connections Academy was one of the first to host NHS chapters. If your child is interested in joining NHS, we’ve provided a rundown of how NHS works in online high school.

NHS Eligibility for Online Students

Just as in traditional schools, students have to qualify to become an NHS member. Those who are looking to join the National Honor Society during online high school need to submit an eligibility form and meet certain standards, including maintaining a high grade point average (GPA) and completing volunteer service hours.

Within a set range, eligibility requirements may vary slightly for each NHS chapter in order to meet the specific needs of the school. To give you an idea, here are a few specific eligibility requirements for NHS in California Connections Academy schools:

  • Members must have a 3.5 overall GPA.
  • Members have to complete a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer service within the past 12 months from the application date.
  • Volunteer service must fall into four categories: school service, community service, student leadership, or character building.
  • Since grades are checked at the end of each month and semester, students have to maintain their GPA throughout the school ...

How to Weather Taxing Times as a Learning Coach

By: Beth Werrell

How to Weather Taxing Times as a Learning CoachThe April 15th tax filing deadline may be past, but it probably won't be the last time this year you might feel caught between an immovable adult-world deadline and your responsibilities as a Learning Coach.

So today, let's discuss some tactics you can use to avoid or reduce those taxing days when responsibilities collide and your stress levels rise.

Stress Prevention in an Online School

With dozens of general stress management techniques to choose from, there are four key strategies that adapt uniquely well to actually prevent stress in the online school environment. And, when it comes to stress, we think "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Planning and Time Management.
For Learning Coaches and parents, managing multiple responsibilities at home and in the home classroom can be challenging. But you also have time management tools and options that can help you meet those challenges and maximize the advantages of an online school. You can:

  • Create a family learning calendar that prevents unexpected deadlines and scheduling collisions. Your student's daily planner provides a great starting point for developing a consolidated family calendar that includes your student's LiveLesson® session schedule, class project deadlines, and extracurricular activities; family vacations and commitments; and your daily tasks as a Learning Coach. With the entire family's schedule at your fingertips, you'll be in a better position to plan for major projects (like taxes!) and schedule smaller tasks for times when your student is working independently.
  • Maximize your ...

A Marathon Guide to Being a Virtual School Parent

By: Beth Werrell
Helping Your Student Cross the Finish Line

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:

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...

10 Tips for Getting the Whole Family Involved in Virtual School

By: Beth Werrell

How Family Engagement Helps Students SucceedMany families choose a virtual school because parents want to be more involved in their children's learning on a daily basis. There's a lot of data to support making this decision. According to the National Parent–Teacher Association, decades of research proves that when parents are involved in education, students have higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates. Simply put, parent participation promotes student success!

For online school in particular, family involvement is essential. A primary Learning Coach, typically a parent, must provide structure and guidance for students to benefit fully from virtual learning. But involvement isn't limited to the "official" Learning Coach! Any of the important adults in your child's life can—and should—pitch in. Your teamwork will show your child how much your entire family values education. Whether your family includes a dad deployed overseas, a mom who travels, a nearby grandparent, or siblings who are away at college, the hints below will offer great ways for the whole clan to support your student's learning.

  1. To be great, communicate!
    If possible, schedule the first teacher call of the school year when all or many of the key adults can participate. Talking with each teacher about a student's strengths and weaknesses as well as expectations for the year will help get everyone on the same wavelength. As you exchange emails with teachers during the semester, remember to forward important news to other family members, too.

  2. To be great, participate!
    Invite extended family members who ...

7 Projects to Teach Your Child about Sustainable Gardening

By: Tracy Ostwald Kowald

Gardening is a summer activity the whole family can participate in. It's also a great way to introduce your child to sustainable gardening practices that benefit the environment. Here are some ideas to get you and your child started as spring brings the warm weather and rain your garden will need.

Garden Recycling Ideas

Repurposing items can be one way to include sustainable practices in your garden. Making container planters from household items can bring out the creative side in you and your family.

1. Have an old tool kit lying around the house that you've been meaning to replace? After emptying the toolbox, grab the drill and make a few holes in the bottom before adding the soil.

2. An old kitchen strainer with small holes is nearly ready-made to be a planter. Just have your child line the bottom of the strainer with a few coffee filters to hold the soil in the container. After that, you're ready to start planting.

3. Baskets make ideal planters because of their small outlets for water. You can even have your child paint his or her basket with outdoor paint for a fun, personal touch.

4. Old shoes can be converted into outdoor planters in a few simple steps. Click the image below for a fun shoe planter how-to.

Rainwater Harvesting

Rain barrels can be used to trap and store rainwater for garden watering. This helps the environment by reducing the energy used to ...

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