Go Back

When to Give Your Student More Responsibility

By: Kim McConnell
give your student more responsibility

The secret to teaching can be summarized by an old Chinese proverb:

Tell me and I will forget.
Show me and I will remember.
Involve me and I will understand.
Step back and I will act.

Part of teaching is instilling responsibility, and parents and Learning Coaches need to know when their student is ready for more responsibility.

The Gradual Release of Responsibility

Before students can become independent learners, they need to know how to read directions, follow instructions, check their work, consult sources, use classroom materials, and more. Until students have mastered these skills and can apply them to their schoolwork, they need frequent guidance from Learning Coaches and teachers. Learning Coaches who are specifically observing their student for such skills have a better opportunity to address any issues that arise and thereby lead the student toward that independence.

The rate at which students gain independence can depend on age, but it also depends on how quickly Learning Coaches grant students new responsibilities. Often, we have trouble determining how much responsibility students can handle, either overestimating what students understand or underestimating their capabilities.

So, how do we know when students are ready for more responsibility?

Test Your Student’s Capabilities

It’s not always easy to determine when your student is ready to take on a new challenge. You can judge his or her preparedness based on age, experience, and personal needs, but you can’t know for sure until you give your student the opportunity.

In fact, letting students take ...

How Students Can Achieve Goals by Setting Deadlines

By: Beth Werrell
Student Goal Setting Chalkboard Clock

When Emmitt Smith was in high school, his coach, Dwight Thomas, made everyone on the football team write down their goals. “It’s only a dream until you write it down, and then it becomes a goal,” Thomas said.

Smith later played for the NFL and became one of the best running backs in history. “I know that writing down my goals was an essential strategy,” he said, thanking Thomas while delivering his speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

If you want to achieve your goals, writing them down is only the first step. The next step is to set deadlines and meet them.

Why Are Deadlines Important?

Setting deadlines is essential to productivity. It can help students finish school projects, follow New Year’s resolutions, or achieve other short- and long-term goals. It also helps to build intrinsic motivation

Deadlines are so effective because they make large projects or goals more manageable. Breaking up projects into a series of smaller tasks makes them easier to complete and prevents you from waiting until the last minute to finish your work.

Once you figure out which tasks you need to complete, organize them into steps. Assign deadlines to these steps to ensure everything is completed before the final due date. Next, you can schedule time on your calendar for each step and set time limits to keep yourself on track.

Tips for Setting Deadlines

Consider these tips while you set deadlines.

  • Schedule each step on your calendar. This ...

Boosting Independence in Young Virtual School Students

By: Beth Werrell

helping young students become less attachedStarting kindergarten is a big step for young children, but whether they attend virtual school or a brick-and-mortar school affects the size of that step.

Many of the students who take the bus or are dropped off at a traditional school learn how to spend the day away from their families. In the virtual classroom, students don’t gain the same amount of distance from their parents, who often serve as their Learning Coaches.

Distance teaches students an important lesson in independence. It helps reduce a child’s dependence on his or her family members while boosting self-identity and self-reliance.

So, how do you help your student become more independent when you’re around each other all day in the virtual classroom? The answer is to offer him or her independent learning activities and socialization opportunities.

Social Independence

Some of the basic skills students develop in elementary school are to:

  • Use good manners
  • Express needs and feelings to others
  • Understand that others have feelings
  • Take turns and share
  • Play independently without supervision
  • Respect authority figures

Students develop these skills by way of guidance and experience. Since your student won’t be in a classroom full of his or her peers every day, you have to make an extra effort to expose him or her to different social situations.

Here are just a few ways to help your virtual student socialize:

  • Sign up for art classes, music lessons, sports teams, or other after-school activities
  • Set up playdates or playgroups with other young kids
  • Coordinate a ...

5 Steps toward Independence in High School

By: Tisha Rinker
Teen gaining independence in high school.

If you’re ready to start the next phase of your education—and life—in high school, then you have plenty to anticipate. High school is a time when you can have fun, expand your interests, and gain new responsibilities. In other words, high school is when you start transitioning into adulthood.

Parents and Learning Coaches, it’s time to step back and offer your support while your student navigates through his or her high school years.

Here are five steps that students can take to become more independent.

  1. Take control of your education.
  2. By now, you’re pretty good at handling your schoolwork each week. You can follow your schedule and get your work done on time. Now that you’re in high school, it’s time for you to evaluate just how independent you are.

    Look at the list below and see how many statements are true about you:

    Do you have all of these independent study skills? If not, you know which ones to work on so you can prove yourself as an independent student.

  1. Find your first job.
  2. After you gain more independence in the classroom, you can start gaining more responsibility outside of school. ...

Help Your Online Student Make a Successful Middle School Transition

By: Tisha Rinker
online middle school student learning from home

It doesn’t seem fair, but just as kids are learning to cope with the tremendous emotional and physical upheavals of early adolescence, along comes middle school with ramped-up expectations for both performance and individual responsibility. As parent and Learning Coach, you should prepare to be supportive during what can be the most rapidly changing period of a child’s life. Here are some tips and strategies for helping your son or daughter through the transition.

Prepare your student for multiple teachers.
Just like in a traditional school, your virtual school student will have a different teacher for each subject in an online middle school. In addition, your child may have an advisory teacher who will help with setting goals and measuring overall performance.

  • Explain to your child that each teacher specializes in one subject and will have his or her own teaching style and expectations. 
  • Make sure your middle schooler understands that the rules and grading criteria may be different for each course. 
  • Talk to your child about managing multiple or conflicting priorities—and encourage him or her to turn to you for advice as soon as any situations arise.

Expect to communicate differently with teachers.
During this period, the responsibility for communication begins to shift from teachers to students. To help support your child’s transition to becoming an independent learner, you should encourage your middle schooler to call or send a message to the appropriate teacher when he or she has a question, needs assistance, or wants to share ...

How to Help Your Teen Transition to Online High School

By: Tisha Rinker
online high school student studying independently

While teenagers often think they are invincible, they still need some coaching to adapt successfully to the changes they’ll face in high school. Although virtual school students can escape much of the teenage angst and drama endured by their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, they will still encounter many new experiences. The following suggestions should help you and your teen get a strong start as he or she transitions to online high school.

Prepare your student for raised academic expectations.
High school classes are geared toward preparing students for college or the workplace, aka “the real world,” so the demands increase significantly. Virtual school students should be ready to encounter:

Discuss your teenager’s duties as an online high school student.
During the high school years, many responsibilities shift from the Learning Coach to the student. Make your teen aware that while you are always available for support, he or she is responsible for:

  • initiating contact with teachers when help is needed 
  • taking responsibility for his or her learning 
  • working independently 
  • being resourceful in finding solutions

Shift responsibilities for organizing and planning.
Hand over your crown as the “Calendar Queen” (or King) and let your high schooler manage his or her own schedule, with only occasional gentle reminders. Your teen should also be ready to take charge of the filing ...

The Evolving Role of Online School Learning Coaches

By: Dan Reiner

What’s it really like to juggle parenting and be a Learning Coach for your child’s online schooling? What does the role of Learning Coach involve? Are virtual school students and Learning Coaches required to interact all day long, every day? If you’re thinking about online school for your kids, it’s important to learn the answer to these questions and grasp the big picture of how virtual school works with regard to your child’s responsibilities and the duties you’ll be performing as the Learning Coach. You’ll especially want to understand how these roles will change as your child grows up (which sometimes happens more quickly than we’d like!).

column chart visualizing stages of student responsibilities in online school

evolution of learning coach responsibilities from elementary through online high school

Online Elementary School: Children in Motion

As a parent, you already know that in elementary school busy little bodies need ongoing supervision! At this stage, attention spans are as tiny as the children themselves. Learning Coaches will need to help kids stay on task by minimizing distractions and by setting a schedule with varied activities and breaks. Remember, kids need exercise and playtime every day to burn off their excess energy!

Online school students in grades K–5 will have a very flexible schedule and do a large percentage of their schoolwork offline, including reading books, writing, and doing hands-on assignments. As a Learning Coach, you should expect to spend about five hours each day supervising these learning activities.

To support a child’s learning, a Learning Coach’s role includes demonstrating positive organization and good study skills, and providing assistance with time and ...

Laying the Groundwork: Make Any Child a Lifelong Learner

By: Kim McConnell
children sitting on books tower

Kids may not listen to what you say, but they almost always notice what you do! If your family’s lifestyle shows a commitment to the importance of education, you can strongly influence how your child feels about school and learning. Here are a few suggestions for how you can lay a foundation for lifelong learning—online and offline:

  • Incorporate family values. Try to tie your educational values  to family ones, so your child will see the two as linked. For example, make sure your child has the opportunity to see parents and other adults conduct research and read to learn something new. If education is important not just for school but also for the everyday lives of people in your family, it strengthens the desire to learn.

  • Relate it to the real world. One of the best ways to get your child engaged in a lesson is to show him or her how to use the concepts/skills in real life. Having a context for what is being learned is the perfect way to show children why it’s important to advance their education.

  • Encourage questions. The more questions your child asks, the more invested he or she is in the material being learned. Don’t forget that you can use questions to generate conversation, drive home an important point, or elaborate on a critical concept. Questions lead to discussion, and discussion leads to a richer overall understanding.

  • Celebrate little victories. Your child’s earning a great score on a big exam isn’t the ...

6 Keys for Online Students to Develop Independent Study Skills

By: Dan Reiner
young online student developing independent study skills

Watching your child’s education develop before your eyes is a truly gratifying experience. Being able to witness the “aha!” moments when concepts are mastered and lessons completely understood is priceless for many parents.

But what about those times when your child isn’t able to grasp the material right away? When he or she stumbles through the lessons and can’t seem to complete the accompanying activities?

As a Learning Coach, you are not responsible for teaching lessons to your online school student, but rather for playing an active role in reinforcing study habits that lead to success. Since online teachers are there to determine your child’s needs, develop individualized learning plans, and handle the teaching, your role is to assist your student to become an independent online learner. Here are some important techniques to help foster effective learning:

  1. Mastering the art of note-taking. Just because your student is taking notes during an online lesson doesn’t mean that he or she is doing so effectively. If you notice that your child is struggling to grasp the most important information, it may be time to work on note-taking strategies. Some of these include:
    • previewing the readings
    • paying attention to boldface words and headings
    • reworking main ideas into concepts that are easily understood
    • being attentive to captions
    • using different modes of note-taking, including highlighters, sticky notes, index cards, graphs, charts, and diagrams
    • making sure the notes taken answer/reference the objectives and questions that accompany each lesson
  2. Providing a variety of learning materials. Your child ...

Harvard Study Shows What Online School Families Already Know

By: Steven Guttentag

I just read a new study by Harvard Professor Nancy Hill concluding that parents’ helping children with their homework does not help them do well in school (article by Deborah Blagg, 2009). Wait a second, I thought, that is what good parents do! My wife and I take turns working with our three children on their homework because we assumed that our efforts would help them succeed in school and beyond. I guess if the world always worked as we expected, we wouldn’t need research.Brian King, Connections Academy Student and Spelling Bee Winner

So if “homework help” isn’t really helping, what should we be doing to ensure that our children are successful in school and in life? According to Professor Hill, volunteering (e.g., PTA, helping out in the classroom) helps a little, and educational activities (e.g., trips to the library or a museum) also can’t hurt, but what really can make a difference is our ability to connect children’s schoolwork to their life’s work. Hill writes, “Our study shows that helping children understand the value and utility of education correlates well with higher achievement levels in middle school and high school.” Children need to understand that mastering their times tables, reading Shakespeare, and learning the state capitals all have a connection to higher education, meaningful work, and ultimately a good life. If you can convince them of that, then they will get their homework done on their own—and you will just need to get out of the way.

So how do you do this? Hill’s analysis ...

Next page