7 Computer Skills to Master by High School

By: Beth Werrell

Computer Skills for High School Success - Girl typing on her computerComputers are everywhere today, so it's normal for children to develop computer skills quickly and early on. By virtual elementary school, kids are figuring out how to use a mouse and navigate the keyboard.

As your child grows and his or her knowledge of technology expands, there are certain things that he or she needs to learn for school. Knowing how to cite online sources in a paper and create a chart in Microsoft Excel are just a few examples.

To make sure your child is equipped with the right skills, take a look at the list below. You’ll find the seven computer skills your child should master by the time he or she starts virtual high school.

  1. Typing
    Using a keyboard is one of the first computer skills a young child develops. By middle school, children should be able to type proficiently with two hands. To make typing even easier, have your child practice his or her typing skills with apps like Type-Fu.

  2. Digital communication
    Computers offer many different communication channels, such as email, chat, and social media posts. To use these channels correctly, your child needs to understand how messages should change depending on the context. For example, it’s fine to use emoticons and poor punctuation in an email to a friend, but an email cover letter to an employer must be formal and precise.

  3. Online etiquette and safety
    Another lesson that children learn early on is how to use the computer appropriately. You ...

Parent Involvement in Blended Learning High School

By: Beth Werrell
parent and blended learning students working together

When neither a traditional nor fully online education is the right fit for a student, some families opt for blended learning at the high school level. For the student, blended learning offers the best of online learning and face-to-face instruction, as well as opportunities to socialize and collaborate with their peers. What surprises many families is that parents also benefit from the change, because blended learning provides many ways to become more involved in their child’s education.

An Emphasis on Accountability

At blended high schools such as Nexus Academy, students attend school in person four half-days per week, either in the morning or afternoon. The rest of the time, they work independently at home. In addition to making sure their student has reliable transportation and attends school regularly, it’s important for parents to hold their blended learning students accountable for focusing on their studies during those at-home hours.

Parents need to let their students know that they will also be held accountable for completing assignments on time and maintaining acceptable grades. Naturally, these reminders should be delivered with a healthy dose of encouragement!

Know Your Student’s Studies

Because the curriculum in a blended learning school is digital, parents have easy access to their student’s learning materials 24/7. They can easily keep tabs on what a student is learning, and in the unlikely event that a teenager should admit that he or she needs help, the online texts are available for reference. A teacher’s lessons from the online classroom may ...

10 Lessons Learning Coaches Can Learn from Sports Coaches

By: Beth Werrell
coaching your child to virtual school success by learning from sports coaches

If you have the “pre-game jitters” about becoming your child’s online school Learning Coach, relax! Your child’s education does deserve your “A” game, but fortunately, although it takes time and energy, becoming a great Learning Coach is achievable.

To inspire you, we’ve examined the actions of great athletic coaches to find out what makes them great. By taking a page out of their playbook, you are sure to motivate your child to succeed academically in virtual school!

  1. Exercise Your Communication Skills
  2. Great coaches realize that effective communication with their players is a two-way street. As a Learning Coach, you need to clearly explain your expectations and the rules for online school to your student. You may want to communicate important things both verbally and in writing. And you will need to keep your student on track for projects and course completion, so scheduling reminders are also key.

    Learning Coaches also need to listen. Sharp listening skills will help you determine if your child understands new concepts and enhances skills. When questions arise, you will need to communicate with teachers or encourage your child to make contact independently, depending on his or her age.

  3. Keep the Home Classroom a Positive Environment
  4. Just like a good coach will guide young athletes in developing good sportsmanship, a good online Learning Coach keeps the home classroom an emotionally safe and positive environment. Encouragement can energize a child who is struggling with a lesson. Praise for a job well done will spur your ...

How to Try Workshifting with Virtual School Students

By: Beth Werrell
young online student studying outside of the home classroom in a library

With today’s on-the-go lifestyle, working in the same spot every day can be a challenge. As a virtual school family, you have a designated home classroom to work in most school days, but sometimes your child might work in the car or on the couch.

Although moving around during the school day can affect your child’s focus, learning in different areas can have some surprising benefits.

To find out what these benefits are, take a look at these tips for studying on the go.

The Benefits of Studying On the Go

Our culture now allows many possibilities when it comes to finding places to study or work. In the professional world, men and women are working from home, working while traveling, working in cafés and rented workspaces—working essentially anywhere. A new word has emerged to describe this trend: workshifting.

Workshifting means “working from anywhere other than a traditional office through the use of web-based technology,” according to Workshifting.com, which coined the term. Workshifting has essentially changed the professional world in a way similar to how online learning has changed education!

So, how can workshifting be applied to virtual school? Well, it can offer virtual students the same benefits. Reduced stress, increased motivation, and schedule flexibility are some of the benefits described in an article about workshifting in BusinessWeek.

Some of the reasons why students may want to try workshifting are as follows. Workshifting:

  • Helps children to become more adaptable
  • Keeps the learning experience fresh
  • Spurs ideas and ...

Peer Student Motivation: 3 TED Talks to Start the School Year

By: Beth Werrell

Little girl holding a cloud ballon that says Peer Student InspirationLooking for some student inspiration to kick–start the new school year? TED, the nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas about technology, entertainment, and design, offers thousands of short video talks by people who have accomplished amazing things—from the 15–year–old who developed a more affordable accurate test for pancreatic cancer to the two twelfth-graders who identified a bacterium to break down plastics in the environment.

Check out three of our favorite inspirational videos for students that combine inspiring personal stories with practical advice for overcoming some of the challenges every student will face during their academic career and beyond:

Learning from Failure

At the beginning of the school year, it may seem counter–intuitive to encourage students to embrace failure. But in Learning to Fail, teens Tara Suri and Niha Jain explain that, having “failed spectacularly” at starting a nonprofit to help impoverished women in India, they learned how to turn failure on its head–reevaluating their approach and looking for new solutions to age-old problems. In their humorous and self-deprecating talk, they remind students that not only will they survive failure, but they’ll actually learn from it.

Placeholder for:https://www.youtube.com/v/X0ZtPqG7t-A&rel=0&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=0

Having trouble seeing? Try going directly to YouTube.

Problem Solving

When she was seven years old, Angela Zhan’s “smart-aleck, socially awkward” father asked her, “Do you know why manhole covers are round?” In Breaking Down the Unknown, high school senior Angela Zhan explains how her father’s help in breaking that question down into smaller, solvable parts sparked her interest in science and math. ...

10 Resources You Need in Your Back-to-Virtual-School Toolbox

By: Beth Werrell
Back-to-School Toolbox for Online Learning Coaches

As the new school year approaches, parents and Learning Coaches start back-to-school planning to ensure virtual school starts smoothly. If you’re not feeling confident about your preparations, don’t worry—getting ready is easier than you expect.

To help you at the start of the year and beyond, we created a Back-to-School Toolbox. It equips you with resources, tips, and reminders that can simplify the planning process. Take a look below to find the tools you need.

  1. A Family Calendar
  2. Calendars and schedules are crucial to school organization, whether you’re managing multiple students or assisting just one. Try posting a calendar in the classroom or using a family calendar app. If you need to create a learning schedule, try using this daily schedule and school planner template. In August, remember to check the start date on the school calendar.

  3. Tips for Preparing Lessons
  4. Because facilitating school is a fundamental part of weekly planning, make sure you review these six steps to prepare for virtual school lessons and get ready for a great new semester.

  5. Home Classroom Organization Tips
  6. To refresh your home classroom before school starts, it helps to have a list of classroom organization tips and other creative classroom ideas. You can also consider these suggestions for creating a positive home learning environment.

  7. School Rules and Etiquette
  8. At the beginning of the year, establish the school rules and review the ABCs of virtual classroom etiquette. These help your child understand your expectations for ...

Summer Time Capsule for Kids

By: Beth Werrell

There’s nothing like a time capsule to boost a kid’s curiosity. Time capsules raise a lot of questions, such as, “What will I be like when I open my time capsule?”; “What will happen between now and then?”; and “How will I feel when I open it?”

But if you want a time capsule to have an impact on your child, find one that’s educational. It can still be entertaining, but it should spur questions such as, “What do I want to achieve?”; “Will the future be like I expect?”; and “How will I feel when I reach my goals?”

To get your child to ask these questions, try our summer time capsule activity. It’s a rewarding way to tie up summer vacation and prepare for the first day of school. Take a look at the graphic below for instructions, and check out the bottom of the page for tips on protecting your time capsule.

Protecting Your Time Capsule

When your time capsule is finished, you need to put it somewhere safe. This can be under the bed, in a closet, in the attic, or underground. Here are some tips to help you protect your time capsule.

  • Write down a reminder listing the location of the time capsule and the day when it should be opened.
  • Hide the box from the hands of curious children—or the paws of curious pets.
  • Wrap the shoebox you’re using with newspaper or wrapping paper. This will keep ...

Answers to Parent Questions about Common Core State Standards

By: Beth Werrell
Common Core FAQs written in white chalk on a blackboard

As a parent, you have probably heard about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for education. Widespread media coverage of this topic and news segments are showing many differing—and confusing—opinions. To help you understand what Common Core means and how it may apply to your child’s education, we want to address some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from online school families.

  1. Who created Common Core?
  2. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative was a state-led effort that was coordinated by a partnership between the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. A team of teachers, school administrators, and experts developed the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce.

    Many education groups support these rigorous standards, such as National PTA, National Association of State Boards of Education, American Association of School Administrators, ACT, and College Board.

  3. Is the federal government forcing states to adopt the CCSS?
  4. No, the federal government does not require states to ...

An Unconventional List of Back-to-School Supplies

By: Beth Werrell
Desk with scissors, pencils, pens, a calculator, and other school supplies on top

Have you noticed that local stores have started stocking back-to-school supplies? Sure, it’s late July and you’re not quite ready for summer to end, but it pays to prepare early. That way, you can make sure you and your child are off to a smooth start when the school year arrives.

This year, consider adding some useful yet unusual school supplies to your list. Below, you can find a breakdown of fundamental items as well as some unconventional ones.

If you are a new Learning Coach and not sure where to begin, remember that your family will receive certain supplies from Connections Academy. These materials may include textbooks, other course materials, headphones, or loaner computers and vary from school to school.

Start with Basic Back-to-School Supplies

As each new school year approaches, your family has to restock the essentials. But before you start shopping, go through last year’s supplies and cross off the materials you have from your list. If you don’t have a list, then see if your school or teacher provides one. You can also find general lists online or in department stores. Remember to jot down important details, such as brand, quantity, or size.

Below is a list of some of the basic school supplies you’ll need.

Paper and paper accessories – Lined notebook paper and notebooks, computer paper, doodling paper, index cards, Post-it® Notes, and three-ring binders.

Writing instruments – Ballpoint pens and #2 pencils.

Tools – A ruler, pencil sharpener, stapler, tape dispenser, three-hole punch, ...

Why You’re Cut Out to Be a Virtual School Learning Coach

By: Beth Werrell
male virtual school Learning Coach giving his daughter a high five

As revealed in a recent survey, greater parent involvement in a child's education is one of the main reasons parents choose virtual school for their child. A parent’s (or other trusted adult’s) daily participation in learning activities shows children that education is a top priority and helps ensure their success. At Connections Academy, the person who supports the child’s education in the home is called a Learning Coach. The Learning Coach works closely with the student to help facilitate learning and also plays a vital role by keeping students on track and regularly communicating with their teachers.

If you are new to virtual school, you might wonder whether you can be an effective online Learning Coach for your child. But you might be surprised to find that you already have many of the skills you need to be a successful Learning Coach. You just need to know how to use them!

Starting your journey as a Learning Coach means changing your attitude from “Can I do this?” to “How do I do this?” To prepare for success, start by reviewing the three R’s:

As you transition into your new role, take a look at this list of abilities and at how you can apply them as a virtual school Learning Coach.


Discipline can help you form the foundation of ...

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