Join the Going for Gold Summer Contest

By: Stephanie Osorno
Going for Gold! Participate for a chance to win a $500 gift card!

A new school year is just around the corner—and we know the perfect way to get ready for and celebrate your student's new academic benchmark. By simply answering a question about your student's accomplishments and academic journey, your family will earn a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card for back-to-school supplies through Connections Academy's new summer contest, Going for Gold!

How does it work?

To help families prepare for a successful school year, Connections Academy®—supported schools are focusing on and discussing one key aspect of the program Monday through Friday, for five weeks, in a series of informative posts and videos on all Connections Academy Facebook pages. Every Wednesday, families are asked to share stories, pictures, and advice in the comments for a chance to win the grand prize. Responses can be submitted until Friday mornings. One random winner is then chosen for the week—so it's important to reply to the prompts each week! The contest will run from July 18 to August 21, 2016.

Why should I participate?

Aside from getting the chance to score the prize, participating in the contest is a great way for both currently enrolled and new families to become more familiar with the program and start the school year off strong. The contest posts will include information on interactive resources that you may not know about and that could be useful to you and your student throughout the school year. It's also a good opportunity to connect with other ...

Focus on Family with This List of Summertime Activities

By: Stephanie Osorno
Summer Activities for Virtual School Families

Learning doesn't only happen when a student opens a textbook or completes a schoolwork assignment. Knowledge growth can happen year-round from a variety of activities, including games and tasks that feel vastly different from the traditional notion of learning.

Now here's the question: what's better than learning via fun activities and games? Even though it's not mandatory for a student's success, getting the entire family involved can make learning even more engaging. A 2010 study on school improvement found that elementary students with strong family engagement were ten times more likely to improve in math and four times more likely to improve in reading than students with weak family engagement.

Summer is no time to lose balance between family time and education. Get the whole family involved in learning activities this summer. Try one of the popular options below!

Educational Board Games for Kids and Families

Is a rainy day keeping you cooped up inside? Think of it as the perfect opportunity to play a family board game that improves your student's critical thinking skills. Board games that deal with major subjects such as English, math, and history can be a useful source for students to practice essential academic concepts with their family beside them—yes, even in the summertime!

Read our blog post on educational family game nights to explore new game ideas for students of every age—in elementary school, middle school, and even high school.

Outdoor PE Activities for Grades K–12

Now let's consider the opposite scenario—it's a beautiful ...

Geology Lesson for Kids: What Happens Inside a Volcano?

By: Beth Werrell

Volcanic eruptions are a rare yet fascinating natural phenomenon. There are, on average, 35 volcanic eruptions every year. Many kids know about volcanoes in general, but how they work is often an intriguing mystery. What happens inside the earth when a volcano erupts?

Looking inside the earth’s layers can uncover this and spark a sense of wonder in your student. To create your own volcano in the comfort of your home, explore the instructographic below for a safe, fun (and slightly messy) activity.

Inside the Earth’s Crust

Understanding volcanoes starts with understanding the structure of the earth. The outer part of the earth that we see, called the crust, is the top layer of many layers. Underneath the crust are bigger and hotter layers that lead to the center of the earth, the core. Within these layers are huge sections called tectonic plates, which we explain in more detail below. At the bottom of the crust, before we get to the deeper layers, is where we find hot liquid rock called magma, which might be beneath massive amounts pressure.

Tectonic Plates, Magma, Friction, and Pressure

Tectonic plates are parts of the crust that act like giant puzzle pieces. The plates have the ability to move, and when they do, they create problems—like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. These natural disasters happen because the movement of the plates cause friction. That friction can create pressure on the magma, and the magma can no longer stay ...

Take the Summer Olympics Quiz Bowl Trivia Challenge

By: Stephanie Osorno

Whether you’re an athlete or not, you can train your brain for the Olympic Games! Every few years we are able to root for the United States as we watch dedicated athletes from around the world compete against each other in the Olympic Games—and now you and your family can join in the excitement and praise with Connections Academy’s Olympic-themed Quiz Bowl trivia challenge.

What better way to prepare for and celebrate the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, than by testing your Olympic knowledge? Our summer Quiz Bowl includes 20 trivia questions that will get the brain fueling and help build enthusiasm for the main event. Taking the quiz is also a fun way to learn more about the legacy and history of the Summer Olympic Games, as it often stimulates a positive and interesting educational discussion.

Participating in the Quiz Bowl challenge could be especially exciting for online students who are taking advantage of the scheduling flexibility in virtual school to train for the Olympics themselves. The best part is that the challenge is for all ages, so the whole family can take it together for a friendly and fun competition! Students can also share it with friends. The quiz is available online, but if you prefer to take it on paper, you can download the printable version.

We hope you'll use this quiz to make dinnertime, a car ride, or summer ...

4 Ways to Prepare for College in Online School

By: Stephanie Osorno
College Prep for Online School Students

College may be years away for some students, but that doesn’t mean the prep work can’t begin now! Like many bricks-and-and mortar schools, high-quality virtual schools offer students many opportunities to get a head start on college requirements and courses by earning college credits, learning more about future options, and getting organized beforehand.

Preparing for college ahead of time can relieve stress and worry while accelerating college graduation and career goals. Here are a few ways that virtual school students can start gearing up for college—and how attending virtual school has benefited current and former students of Connections Academy®—supported schools.

  1. Advanced Placement and honors courses
  2. Enrolling in an Advanced Placement (AP®*) or honors course is a great way to prepare for the pace and demands of college courses. It’s a good opportunity for students to challenge themselves academically while learning to be more diligent and self-disciplined at the same time. Taking advanced coursework also enhances a student’s transcript—an important strategy for making a favorable impression on college admissions committees.

    In addition, an AP course prepares a student for the national AP exam. High scores on these tests could enable students to earn college credit or placement in advanced classes, depending on the individual college’s policies. Even though the workload may be heavier, students will know that their hard work has paid off when they receive an acceptance letter from their favorite college or can check off a course from their college requirements before starting their ...

Introverts and Extroverts: Thriving in the Online Classroom

By: Beth Werrell
Helping Introverts and Extroverts Thrive in Virtual School

Is your child quiet, reflective, and more comfortable in one-on-one conversation than in a crowd? Or is your child outgoing and more interested in making friends than "making the grade"? 

Parents considering an online school often wonder how their child's personality will flourish in a virtual setting. With Susan Cain's new book, Quiet Power: The Secret Strength of Introverts, sparking new discussions of how schools serve diverse personalities, we'd like to offer parents some thoughts on introverts, extroverts, and online schools.

Introvert or Extrovert? What's the Difference, and Why Does It Matter?

Psychologist Carl Jung first used the terms introvert and extrovert in the early 1900s to describe equally healthy variations of personality type. Contrary to popular usage, introversion isn't the same as shyness, extroversion isn't merely about being sociable and outgoing, and neither type is better than the other.

Instead, the terms simply describe how we respond to different environments. Think of it as the answer to the question "What are the situations or conditions that energize and motivate you?"

From decades of research, we've learned that...

Introverts:

  • Are energized by time alone
  • Are drained by large and/or noisy social gatherings—even though they may enjoy people
  • Prefer a few close friendships to a wide circle of friends
  • Listen before speaking and think before acting
  • Work best in a quiet environment without distractions

Extroverts:

  • Are energized by interaction with large social groups
  • Tend to be bored when alone
  • Enjoy a large circle of friends
  • Express themselves freely, make ...

A Long List of Science Projects to Try This Summer

By: Stephanie Osorno
Summer Science Projects for Kids

Does your student love science? It’s a fascinating subject with countless learning opportunities. From science experiments you can conduct using materials in your home, to interesting research that applies to everyday life, science is all around us. Why not take advantage of it this summer?

Over the years, Connections Academy® has posted many science-themed blogs and instructographics, and we've noticed how well-liked they tend to be. Below, we've compiled a list of some of our most popular science activities. Pick one to try with your family this summer!

Kitchen Science for Kids: Making a Battery Out of a Lemon

It’s fun for kids to be able to see with their own eyes how a simple circuit can carry enough electricity to power a small lightbulb. This simple experiment is inexpensive and easy to do at home, and it's a great introduction to the power of electricity. As your kids get older, there are plenty of ways to add onto this do-it-yourself activity, such as making multiple circuits or developing a switch that can power your lightbulb on and off.

Give this simple kitchen science experiment a try.

Experiment with Musical Water Glasses

Did you know that sound travels about four to five times faster in water than in air? That means water can affect the speed at which the sound waves are traveling and vibrating.

Although this activity is simple, it's a great way to exercise both your student's science skills and musical abilities. There's even a way to ...

Virtual School Seniors Enjoy Graduation Traditions

By: Beth Werrell
Celebrating Virtual School Graduates!

Although online school students travel a unique path to their high school graduation day, they can receive their diplomas wearing caps and gowns to the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance"—just like their peers in bricks-and-mortar schools. And more importantly, seniors and alumni of Connections Academy–supported schools report that they experience equal levels of success!

This year, more than 4,000 Connections Academy students graduated as part of the Class of 2016. Many gathered with family, friends, and classmates at in-person commencement ceremonies for the schools in the 24 states where 12th grade is available. And just like their peers graduating from traditional schools, their joy was captured in photographs.

They are also being accepted to prestigious colleges and universities throughout the nation. In fact, 91% of Connections Academy 2016 graduates who were interested in attending a four-year college were accepted. And for International Connections Academy online private school, of 2016 seniors who applied to college, 100% were accepted.

In their commencement speeches and in a Connections Academy survey, recent graduates revealed that they feel better prepared for the increasingly digital world of college and career thanks to their experiences in online school.

"The close relationship I have built with many teachers over the years is something I don't feel would have been successfully accomplished in traditional public school. One-on-one interaction with my teachers throughout the day has really helped my educational goals prosper and advance," said Noah Langenfeld, Wisconsin Connections Academy class ...

Support for Families Learning the Ropes of Online School

By: Stephanie Osorno
Support for Online School Families

Adapting to the routines of a particular learning method such as virtual school can take some time and patience, but by selecting a high-quality school, you can be sure that you'll have plenty of help and guidance along the way!

Whether you're new to virtual school, considering virtual learning, or getting ready to begin another virtual school adventure, Connections Academy®–supported online public schools are equipped to support you and your student. After thorough research, the schools developed three family support programs, Get Started!, Get Coaching!, and Get Connected!, which provide families with all the information and tools they need to have a gratifying virtual learning experience.

Each program focuses on one key factor to online school success. Get Started! helps families begin the school year confident and strong. Get Coaching! ensures that Learning Coaches, both new and returning, are prepared for their role. Get Connected! offers families many opportunities to connect with other local families in the virtual school community.

To get a more extensive look into Connections Academy's family support programs, check out the video below! For more virtual learning videos, make sure to subscribe to Connections Academy's YouTube channel.

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Having trouble seeing? Try going directly to YouTube.

By actively seeking support, resources, and guidance, you and your family can have a successful and enjoyable online school year! What are some ways that you and your student have prepared for online school? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Fourth of July Education for Kids

By: Beth Werrell

Most American families are familiar with the festivities of Independence Day. In fact, 63% of people attend a fireworks display and 76% get together with family. With the busyness of the day, it's easy to forget to discuss the symbolism behind the day, especially with young children who don't yet understand.

This time of year is perfect for a history lesson teaching kids the meaning behind July 4th and why we celebrate the day. The information in this blog post should help get you started. As an added bonus, view the instructographic below for a fun activity you can use during your Independence Day celebrations.

The Declaration of Independence

Before the first Fourth of July, five men (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, and Thomas Jefferson) were tasked with writing a document explaining why America was declaring its independence from the British. Thomas Jefferson was chosen to write the first draft, and the first version was officially signed and adopted on July 4, 1776.

In the document, which still exists today, the 13 original colonies explained why they wanted to be free from the British. The document listed all of the bad acts the British king had committed against the colonies and made clear what the colonies felt their rights were, including "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

It was with this document that the United States officially became free.

The Liberty Bell

After the Declaration of Independence was signed ...

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