Self-Acceptance vs. Self-Improvement: How to Help Kids Strive for Both

By: Beth Werrell
Teach Your Child the Value of Self-Acceptance

As the parent or Learning Coach of a growing student, you spend a lot of time encouraging your child to succeed. You might help your child improve his or her reading fluency, test-taking skills, virtual classroom etiquette, organization, and so on.

These are important skills that all students should develop. But don’t forget to also teach your child the importance of self-acceptance.

Activities to Encourage Self-Acceptance

Learning to accept yourself takes time, no matter who you are. But trying some of these self-acceptance activities will make your child aware of his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. In turn, he or she will develop self-esteem and celebrate his or her identity. Encourage your child to try a few of the activities below to get started.

How Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Help Virtual School Students

By: Beth Werrell
Helping Students Become More Confident Learners

Self-esteem affects every virtual school student’s growth and well-being. Your student’s self-esteem is especially important to consider now that it’s National Bullying Prevention Month. Children who are bullied usually develop low self-esteem in response to the criticism they hear. Until these children regain self-esteem, they will struggle to be happy and healthy.

Keep in mind that boosting a child’s self-esteem only affects how he or she views him- or herself. Surprisingly, research has shown that self-esteem doesn’t affect academic performance. Struggling students need something else: self-confidence. In one study, students with high confidence scored higher on a test than students with low confidence. To do better in school, your child needs to develop confidence in his or her academic abilities.

Tips for Building Self-Confidence

There are no shortcuts when it comes to gaining self-confidence. Because confidence grows from knowledge and experience, kids need to work hard until it develops naturally. Take a look at the tips below to help your child improve and build confidence in his or her performance.

  • Get motivated. The first step to gaining self-confidence is getting started. To be successful, your child has to want to do well in school. You can try the 9-step motivation model if he or she isn’t motivated. With this motivation technique, you and your child work step by step to develop and execute a plan for finding success.

  • Plan ahead. Preparation is vital to success. Your child can’t do his or her best without ...

10 Bullying Warning Signs Every Parent Should Be Aware Of

By: Meredith Yowell
Warning Signs of Bullying for Parents

As parents, we often have to interpret our children’s unusual actions, particularly when they are unable—or unwilling—to tell us what’s wrong. Maybe you notice a loss of appetite or a change in sleep patterns. You might observe a change in your child’s friendships or a bad attitude about school. And while you could be tempted to attribute any of these behaviors to the normal “ups and downs” of childhood and adolescence, you should consider that they could also be signs that your child is being bullied.

With bullying in the news with alarming frequency, it’s not surprising that national surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied during their school years. Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, or in person or online, it’s a growing problem with an unhealthy emotional impact for both the bully and the victim.

Parents of at least 10 percent of students at Connections Academy schools nationwide say they turned to virtual school because of bullying, according to the annual parent satisfaction survey. Another 35 percent switched their child to virtual school because they were seeking “a safe learning environment.” And bullying isn’t necessarily confined to a particular type of school—it can happen in or out of school, in any setting.

How to Tell if Your Child Is Being Bullied

Following are ten of the most common warning signs that your child is being bullied.

  1. Mood Changes.
    If your child seems moody, sad, or depressed, particularly if there ...

Break the Multitasking Habit with These Study Tips

By: Beth Werrell
Breaking the Habit of Multitasking

It’s easy to get lost in thought when you shower, brush your teeth, or do your hair. But have you ever gotten so distracted in the shower that you wash your hair twice—or forget to wash it at all? If you’ve ever done something like this, then you have fallen into the trap of multitasking!

Multitasking, or doing two or more things at once, is something we do every day. An example is having a conversation with your child while you’re driving. There’s no harm in talking in the car because it’s easy for your brain to handle these tasks, but multitasking becomes a problem when one task interferes with the other. You might talk in the car, for example, but you wouldn’t text while driving because texting and driving both require your vision.

Virtual students are especially prone to multitasking because they’re surrounded by digital distractions. When students try to multitask while studying, they often fail without realizing it. Psychology professor David Meyer says, “Under most conditions, the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time. It can happen only when the two tasks are both very simple and when they don’t compete with each other for the same mental resources. […] But listening to a lecture while texting, or doing homework and being on Facebook—each of these tasks is very demanding, and each of them uses the same area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex.” When these types of tasks compete for mental ...

Tips for Teaching Your Child Good Social Media Manners

By: Tisha Rinker
Social Media Manners for Kids - young girl sits with her smart phone and laptop

When today’s preteens were born, adults were just starting to figure out how social media worked. Now that kids of all ages are eager to join the world of social media, it’s only natural for parents to have doubts about letting their children dive in. Some common questions parents have include:

  • How do I tell if my child is ready to use social media?
  • When should I start teaching my child about it?
  • How do I keep my child safe on social networks?
  • Which social networks are safe for kids?
  • Will joining social networks just encourage my child to spend more time online?

When parents face these questions, the best approach is to treat social networks like any other new environment your child explores. You supervise your child when he or she plays outside, and you should also supervise him or her on social networks.

Supervision and guidance are crucial to the process of teaching young children how to use social media. Children are less likely to grasp the importance of social media etiquette and safety when they’re left to figure it out on their own. So, before you allow your child to explore social networks independently, review these four key concepts together.

Kindness. Promoting kindness on social media helps children build positive relationships, avoid cyberbullying, and become good digital citizens.

Caution. Teaching kids to protect their personal information and be cautious around strangers is essential for keeping them safe on social networks.

Permanence. ...

Choose Compassion in Support of National Bullying Prevention Month

By: Beth Werrell
National Bullying Prevention Month

Despite increased media coverage about bullying and the dangers associated with it, bullying continues to be a problem among school-aged children. Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied in school. And while "traditional" verbal, social, or physical bullying can take place in person, cyberbullying can occur almost anywhere online. Fortunately, there are many ways for concerned parents to help children identify, avoid, and deal with these harmful situations.

In recognition of October as National Bullying Prevention Month, Connections Academy schools across the country are inviting families to talk about the issue and spread awareness. This year, we'd like you to share with us how you are setting an example to encourage everyone to "Choose Compassion" and help prevent bullying!

How to Make Compassion Go Viral

It's easy to participate. Simply connect with Connections Academy on Facebook. Throughout the month, you and your student can see tips for diffusing bullying behavior and read other families' stories of choosing compassionate actions. If you wish, you can even submit your own stories!

You can support the campaign by submitting a:

  • story about how you or your student showed compassion to help others
  • photo of your student showing the "Choose Compassion" printable, also available on our Facebook page

Show your support and share your story here.

The Student’s Guide to Getting Ready for College

By: Tisha Rinker

Pop quiz: When should you start preparing for college?

  1. Freshman year
  2. Sophomore year
  3. The winter of junior year
  4. The fall of senior year

This question has no wrong answer, actually. But it does have a best answer: Virtual high school students like you should start getting ready for college during freshman year. This will give you plenty of time to consider different career paths, strive for high grades, and look for scholarship opportunities.

Because getting ready for college takes effort, you may be wondering where to start. To get a better sense of what to do and when to do it, check out our College Prep Checklist below.

Click on the image below to view the whole graphic.

The College Prep Checklist is a starting point to help you navigate the college planning process. For more information, browse these college planning resources.

If you’re currently in high school, you might have already made some progress. Which college prep tasks are you focused on now? Share any tips you have for other students and parents in the comments below.

Real-Time or Anytime Learning: Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning Explained

By: Cindy Carbajal
The Differences Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning. A young girl holds a red apple in one hand and a green apple in the other hand.

Synchronous, asynchronous, or blended learning? If you’re confused by the terms, today's post will explain how these different instructional approaches are being used to create more student-centered learning experiences in our virtual and blended schools.

Different Instructional Approaches Explained

When technology began transforming how, when, and where students learned, educators began using the terms synchronous learning and asynchronous learning to distinguish between face-to-face classes and self-paced learning. But what do those technology-tinged words really mean today?

Synchronous Instruction (Real-Time Learning)

In synchronous learning, students and teachers work together at the same time in the same place—whether that place is a bricks-and-mortar school environment or a virtual classroom. Typical synchronous instruction involves teacher-led or facilitated in-class lessons or lectures, group projects, and class discussions.

Asynchronous Instruction (Anytime Learning)

In asynchronous learning, students work at their own pace and place, completing coursework within defined time limits. Students and instructors are not necessarily interacting in real time. Schoolwork that students perform on their own time typically includes:

  • viewing pre-recorded online classroom sessions at home;
  • reviewing course materials online or offline;
  • completing assignments; and
  • collaborating with other students via secure message boards.

Combined Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning

While full-time online schools such as Connections Academy combine synchronous and asynchronous learning in a virtual learning environment, blended learning environments combine virtual and in-person synchronous instruction on a school campus with asynchronous, self-paced learning at a time and place chosen by students and parents. Our Nexus Academy high schools offer this type of blended learning experience....

Taking Breaks: A Surprising Technique to Enhance Online Learning

By: Beth Werrell

Taking Breaks to Enhance Online LearningHaving a productive school day takes concentration. Students have to be motivated and focused on each task they need to complete. They also need to learn how to look at the big picture, set priorities, meet deadlines, and achieve goals. Then there are the different lessons and activities to juggle—math, trumpet practice, science, lunch, robotics club, reading. It’s hard work keeping everything straight!

School can be challenging at times, so it’s normal for students to get tired, get distracted, and lose motivation. Successful students, however, need a way to avoid frustration and stay on track.

To stay focused on learning, there’s an unexpected technique students can try: taking breaks.

Refresh Your Brain

Your student probably already takes breaks during the day, reserving time to eat lunch or grab a snack. But if he or she gets distracted often, it might mean that your child needs to take more breaks.

“In problem-solving, when you get stuck, you’ve run out of ideas, distraction is really your best friend,” says Benedict Carey, the author of How We Learn. “You need to stand up, let it go … and that is really your best shot at loosening the gears a little bit and allowing yourself to take a different and more creative approach to the problem.” Getting distracted is really just a sign that your child’s brain needs a rest before moving to the next lesson.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that students should take breaks every time they get distracted. With some ...

Advice for Helping Families Adjust to Virtual School

By: Kim McConnell
Advice for New Virtual School Families - A mom helps her daughter with homework at the kitchen table

“There’s too much work—my daughter is working into the evening.”

“My student won’t cooperate. How do I motivate him?”

“I never dreamed this would be so difficult.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar? The new school year has just begun, but for parents starting virtual school for the first time, each day can be challenging! During these early days of educating their children at home, parents may feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even ready to quit. Fortunately, with a healthy dose of patience, some tips for weaving learning into family life, and a few weeks of practice, you and your child can adapt to—and even enjoy—this new way of learning!

Your first and best stop for help with “learning the ropes” of online schooling should be your child’s teacher! He or she can point you in the right direction for school orientation, tech support, learning resources, and more. Your teacher may have suggestions to help you with student motivation or creating your daily schedule.

While you are adjusting to your new role as your child’s Learning Coach, there are some simple ways to make the schooling-at-home experience pleasant for everyone.

  1. Remember that you are a family. Although education is very important, your relationship with your child should always come first. Make your home classroom a positive environment and find little ways to let your child know that you’re on his or her side. Showing your student that you understand when he or she is struggling can make ...

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