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6 Stress Management Tips for Online Students

By: Tisha Green Rinker
Six Stress Management Tips for Online Students

Your class assignment is due in an hour. Your Internet connection is down. Your little brother is making entirely too much noise. Sound familiar? You are stressed out!

As the holidays approach, we can all become stressed with too much to do at school, at home, or in our communities. So today, we’re sharing some of the best student stress management tips covered during a recent National Counseling LiveLesson® session. Although geared specifically to students, we think students and parents alike will find these tips useful year-round.

What Is Stress?

The Mayo Clinic defines stress as a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. As part of our biological programming, stress causes our bodies to secrete a cascade of hormones that increase our heart rate, raise our blood pressure, and cause our muscles to tense. While this so-called “fight or flight response” in our bodies might be critical in an actual fight, it’s not so useful when you just need to get through a tougher-than-usual school day.

Are You Stressed? What Are Your Stress Triggers?

To manage stress, you first have to recognize when you are stressed and what is stressing you—your stress triggers, in other words. It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes we don’t even know we’re stressed out until we tune in to our own thoughts and bodies for signals.

If your jaw muscles are clenched, your shoulders are tight, or your stomach is churning, chances are you are stressed. If you are ...

Why Developing Soft Skills during High School Matters

By: Tisha Green Rinker
soft skills

Did you know that 77% of employers say that “soft” skills like communicating effectively are just as important to getting hired as technical job requirements or “hard skills” like knowing a computer programming language?

What Are Soft Skills?

In a recent college and career counseling LiveLesson® session, we discussed soft skills and why they matter to high school students who are starting to explore career paths. Soft skills are the personal traits and attitudes that allow you to succeed in the workplace, college, and life. They’re the cluster of skills that enable you to work well with groups, solve problems, manage your time, and take personal responsibility for your work. In today’s competitive job market, these are the skills that can set someone apart from other candidates. In college, they’re the skills needed to stay on top of your studies.

With many employers saying they can’t find employees with the soft skills they need, students should know that there are strategies they can use to develop these in-demand skills while still in high school:

Build Your Communication Skills

To become an effective communicator, you have to first become an active listener. When conversing with family, friends, or teachers, listen carefully, paraphrase their comments back to them, and ask questions to clarify their meaning or draw them further into the conversation.

In “Five Ways to Listen Better,” TED Talk speaker Julian Treasure refers to this technique by the acronym RASA: Receive, Appreciate, Summarize, and Ask. Not only does ...

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 ...

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 ...

7 Computer Skills to Master by High School

By: Beth Werrell
Computer Skills for High School Success

Computers 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 ...

Note-Taking Tips for Virtual School Students

By: Dan Reiner
Virtual School Student Taking Notes

Note-taking skills are invaluable in the classroom, whether at a traditional or virtual school. Taking notes effectively helps students sift through a large amount of information, determine what is important, and organize it into clear and easy-to-review chunks. Effective note taking helps students focus on what they are learning, helps them remember what they have read, and assists them in successfully studying for exams. A student who takes notes becomes actively involved in his or her learning, rather than passively reading or listening and hoping that somehow he or she will absorb or retain the information.

So, what exactly are the best note-taking techniques? How do you convince your student that taking notes is important? Find the answers below.

Why Taking Notes Is Important

Taking notes essentially helps students understand and study the main ideas. It also:

  • Gives students the chance to practice their listening skills during LiveLesson® sessions or while watching videos
  • Teaches students how to multitask by listening, thinking, and writing
  • Boosts comprehension since students are absorbing information through multiple methods
  • Develops students’ organization techniques
  • Helps students learn faster
  • Teaches students to identify main ideas and summarize information

If you think back to your school days, you may remember that your note taking looked different than your classmates’. Note taking becomes very personal: not everyone will understand your student’s notes, but as long as he or she does, that’s okay. Here are some tips to guide your student to develop effective note-taking skills.

How to Take Notes

The ...

From Classroom to Virtual School: 5 Key Skills Your Child Needs

By: Dan Reiner
online Learning Coach helping virtual school student navigate computer

While changing from a traditional school to a virtual school gives families more control over their children’s education, there can be significant adjustments. Coming from a traditional school culture, kids may not have the skills or the mind-set needed to take full advantage of online school’s many benefits. As a Learning Coach, you can help your child succeed by providing extra support and guidance during the transition period. Teaching or reinforcing the following skills with your children will help them catch on quickly and get a strong start in online learning.

  1. Navigating on a computer.
    Make sure your children complete any computer training provided by your online school. Quiz them on finding their way through their school materials, virtual classroom, instructional tools, and communications systems. Why not create a virtual school scavenger hunt, just to make it fun? For very young children or those with delayed motor skill development, consider finding a kid-friendly website or selecting some age-appropriate games so they can practice their mouse skills. As your child grows and gains dexterity, you may want to enroll him or her in a keyboarding course to help develop speed.
  2. Taking initiative.
    Parents tell us that new online students often complete a lesson and screech to a halt—waiting to be given their next assignment. They’ve learned this from the traditional classroom environment, where students wait for the teacher to direct them to move to the next activity as a group. As a Learning Coach, you ...

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 ...

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 ...