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Advice from Former Learning Coach Newbies

By: Beth Werrell
Advice from Virtual School Learning Coaches

New to online learning? As a "newbie" Learning Coach, you may have some questions and concerns—and this is perfectly normal! After all, when beginning any new "job," whether paid or volunteer, it can take a while to learn your new role and its responsibilities. During this kind of transition, it also helps to have someone show you the ropes. That's why, in the spirit of mentoring, we have gathered some great Learning Coach tips and advice from experienced Connections Academy families to help your transition into virtual school.

Be Mentally Prepared

Accept the idea that while you are becoming a virtual school Learning Coach, you will experience a learning curve. Stick with it, and don't be too hard on yourself. Start with an open mind and an appreciation for the challenges the role may entail. Set aside time to familiarize yourself with the interactive web tools and resources. Plan to attend an information session and any orientations offered by your school. Taking these steps will prepare you and your child for success in virtual school and help you tackle each day with a positive attitude.
Learning Coach Danielle B. Quote

Be Patient

Every student is unique. Each one learns at his or her own pace and flourishes in different subject areas. Don't compare your student to others. It's important to learn to be patient with his or her learning style and speed—after all, accommodating a child's individual needs and preferences is one of the great advantages of this type of schooling.
Learning Coach Kelley A. Quote

Be Organized...

How to Weather Taxing Times as a Learning Coach

By: Beth Werrell

How to Weather Taxing Times as a Learning CoachThe April 15th tax filing deadline may be past, but it probably won't be the last time this year you might feel caught between an immovable adult-world deadline and your responsibilities as a Learning Coach.

So today, let's discuss some tactics you can use to avoid or reduce those taxing days when responsibilities collide and your stress levels rise.

Stress Prevention in an Online School

With dozens of general stress management techniques to choose from, there are four key strategies that adapt uniquely well to actually prevent stress in the online school environment. And, when it comes to stress, we think "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Planning and Time Management.
For Learning Coaches and parents, managing multiple responsibilities at home and in the home classroom can be challenging. But you also have time management tools and options that can help you meet those challenges and maximize the advantages of an online school. You can:

  • Create a family learning calendar that prevents unexpected deadlines and scheduling collisions. Your student's daily planner provides a great starting point for developing a consolidated family calendar that includes your student's LiveLesson® session schedule, class project deadlines, and extracurricular activities; family vacations and commitments; and your daily tasks as a Learning Coach. With the entire family's schedule at your fingertips, you'll be in a better position to plan for major projects (like taxes!) and schedule smaller tasks for times when your student is working independently.
  • Maximize your ...

A Marathon Guide to Being a Virtual School Parent

By: Beth Werrell
Helping Your Student Cross the Finish Line

When you first considered becoming a virtual school parent, did you feel as though you were signing up for a marathon? Now that the school year is almost over, do you fear that you may be about to hit the infamous "runner's wall"?

Whether you're an experienced online Learning Coach or just starting out, take a few tips from long distance runners to help you and your student cross the finish line.

How to Win the Race

Refine and revisit your goals.
As all marathon runners know, you need to focus on the goals you're running toward, one mile at a time. For example, finding a bully-free environment may have sparked your interest in virtual schooling—but that one goal won't get you and your student through the long haul.

Instead, take incremental steps and periodically revisit your most important educational priorities for your student, such as:

When you're hitting the runner's wall at mile 23 or grade 11, it's the success of achieving smaller goals one at a time that will keep you and your student going.

Study the race course; know what to expect.
Experienced marathon runners know to study the course before the race—from hills to potholes to inspiring views. As a Learning Coach in virtual school, you should know how your role is going to change over time...

10 Tips for Getting the Whole Family Involved in Virtual School

By: Beth Werrell

How Family Engagement Helps Students SucceedMany families choose a virtual school because parents want to be more involved in their children's learning on a daily basis. There's a lot of data to support making this decision. According to the National Parent–Teacher Association, decades of research proves that when parents are involved in education, students have higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates. Simply put, parent participation promotes student success!

For online school in particular, family involvement is essential. A primary Learning Coach, typically a parent, must provide structure and guidance for students to benefit fully from virtual learning. But involvement isn't limited to the "official" Learning Coach! Any of the important adults in your child's life can—and should—pitch in. Your teamwork will show your child how much your entire family values education. Whether your family includes a dad deployed overseas, a mom who travels, a nearby grandparent, or siblings who are away at college, the hints below will offer great ways for the whole clan to support your student's learning.

  1. To be great, communicate!
    If possible, schedule the first teacher call of the school year when all or many of the key adults can participate. Talking with each teacher about a student's strengths and weaknesses as well as expectations for the year will help get everyone on the same wavelength. As you exchange emails with teachers during the semester, remember to forward important news to other family members, too.

  2. To be great, participate!
    Invite extended family members who ...

Online Teacher vs. Learning Coach: What’s the Difference?

By: Stephanie Osorno
The Difference Between an Online Teacher vs. Learning Coach

Teacher and Learning Coach: what was your initial interpretation of these titles? Did you have to think twice because they seemed similar? At first glance, these titles could be construed as synonyms since each involves a degree of leadership for students. When it comes to virtual school, however, teacher and Learning Coach represent two distinct roles.

So, as the parent of a virtual school student, which role should you be playing? Teachers and Learning Coaches are accountable for several duties that they handle differently, but both collaborate to enhance the student’s online learning experience. If you’re considering online school for your child, we are here to help you determine how to stay within the Learning Coach bubble. Take a look at the various differences between teacher and Learning Coach below to learn more about your specific duties and the ways each role can complement the other!

Online Teacher vs. Learning Coach

Virtual schools have certified teachers who are dedicated to helping students succeed—that means a Learning Coach serves as a guide, supporter, and motivator to further stimulate learning and establish a suitable structure for the school day at home. The role of a Learning Coach evolves over time as the student gains confidence and develops more academic skills.

Among other things, teachers and Learning Coaches oversee daily learning, provide assistance, and monitor progress in different ways.

Daily Learning

Breathe easy; it is the teacher's responsibility to teach and provide students with learning material. A Learning Coach is not required ...

The Most Important Time Management Tips for Learning Coaches

By: Stephanie Osorno
Time Management for Learning Coaches

Last week, we offered students five easy steps for staying organized and managing their time. So what about your time as a parent or Learning Coach? Being a Learning Coach requires some time and effort, so using time management skills will make each day easier. It’s also important to note that as students get older, your role will evolve and the time you spend supporting your student will decrease.

We want to help you stay on track with our simple guide to time management for online school Learning Coaches. The key to success is breaking up your day into sections.

Here’s what you can do …

… Right Now

Know your time management personality. This way, you can organize each day based on your innate time management skills. This will also help you pinpoint which situations may set you back and how to avoid them.

Make sure you and your student both have designated learning areas. Whether it be a desk, a table, or a couch, having separate working spaces where you can spread out and work independently creates structure and individual workspace boundaries. If you’re managing multiple students, it’s also important for each student to have his or her own learning area. Make sure each learning area has minimal noise and distractions, adequate lighting, and comfortable furnishings.

Prepare your toolbox. Plan for your student’s school year by keeping certain resources on hand. Some examples include a list of school rules, a computer maintenance ...

Reenergize Your Student: 8 Tips for a Productive Second Semester

By: Stephanie Osorno
Re-energize Your Student for Second Semester

The holiday fun has come to an end, and getting back to the daily learning routine can be challenging for students who might still be mourning the loss. But fear not! As an active Learning Coach, you can keep the momentum going with a little encouragement, support, and persistence. Consider the following tips to help your student remain focused and ready for a productive second school semester!

  1. Be a cheerleader.
    From time to time, students tend to feel discouraged and overwhelmed. A Learning Coach can ease these feelings by serving as a personal cheerleader. When students are having an off day, uplift their spirit by not letting them give up and reassuring them that they can do it. Express how proud you are when they do something well or get an answer correct. Additionally, if they are struggling in a particular subject, try some new learning activities that might help. For instance, if a new vocabulary word is introduced, write the new word on a word wall to strengthen a student's memorization skills.

  2. Set a plan for the week.
    Sometimes, students react to a large workload by panicking and doubting their ability to complete the work. Help your student to stay organized, calm, and less stressed by helping to set a reasonable plan at the beginning of each week. Break it down by different days of the week. For instance, suggest that he or she work on a math assignment or project on Monday, and a science ...

What’s Your Style? 4 Time Management Personality Types

By: Stephanie Osorno
Time Management Personality Styles

When it comes to managing your time, are you more like John F. Kennedy or George Washington, Charlie Brown or Sherlock Holmes? Today, we invite you to find out which time management type you are.

Knowing your time management style is the first step in finding the strategies that work specifically for you as a Learning Coach and also for your student.

Evaluate Your Own Time Management Style

Review each time management personality type below to uncover your family member’s time management style. Don’t worry if you have traits in more than one category.

The Early Bird

Famous early birds include George Washington, Queen Victoria, and even Santa Claus.

Early Bird Time Management Personality Style
  • I added this exercise to my to-do list.
  • When I get an assignment, I immediately identify all the tasks involved and plan my time accordingly.
  • When planning or working on projects and portfolios, I prefer working on one subject and project at a time.
  • I’m usually one of the first people to arrive for class or social events. I like being on time!
  • I am stressed when other people are late or when something forces me to be late.
The Multitasker

Well-known multitaskers include Lucille Ball, Charlie Brown, Amelia Earhart, and John F. Kennedy.

Multitasker Time Management Personality Style
  • I am doing other things while going through this exercise.
  • I like having control over my own schedule so I can “switch it up” to keep school and life interesting.
  • I often underestimate how long it takes to complete a task.
  • I’d like to get items on ...

Understanding and Helping Twice Exceptional Students

By: Gintas Bradunas
Helping Twice Exceptional Students

During the school year, Learning Coaches gauge whether their children are doing well or struggling. This helps parents or other responsible adults determine whether the kids need extra help or tougher challenges. So, what do you do if your child struggles and shows impressive talents?

Children who struggle consistently with reading, writing, spelling, speaking, listening, reasoning, or doing math may have a learning disability. As a result, they have trouble achieving what is expected of them, even though they’re very bright. These children, who are gifted as well as learning disabled, are known as twice exceptional.

What Does It Mean to Be Twice Exceptional?

Twice exceptional, or “2e,” children have trouble in school because they excel in some areas and struggle in others. Depending on the task or the course, 2e children might feel too challenged or not challenged enough. This imbalance means that 2e kids and their parents run into new problems every day.

To get much-needed academic support, 2e kids need to follow an Individualized Education Program (IEP). They also need to nurture their talents by joining clubs, taking advanced courses, or pursuing other opportunities. Your child may have unique gifts if he or she:

  • Learns quickly
  • Shows intense curiosity
  • Develops language skills early
  • Observes situations carefully
  • Remembers events in detail
  • Focuses on interests for long periods of time
  • Follows a strong set of morals
  • Has a sense of humor
  • Demonstrates passion
  • Feels things deeply
  • Strives to be successful
  • Likes to play with older kids
How to ...

Maintaining Motivation in a Virtual School Environment

By: Beth Werrell
How to Maintain Motivation in Virtual School Students

When your child attends school at home, it can sometimes be difficult to keep him or her motivated. Like traditional students, virtual school students can get tired, distracted, or stressed out. If this happens, it’s your responsibility as a Learning Coach to step in and help your child get back on track.

Getting motivated isn’t always a challenge, but every child struggles sometimes. When your child works toward a goal, the key to success is keeping him or her motivated. If he or she starts a new task, motivation comes easily, making him or her feel confident and enthusiastic. Once the feeling wears off, however, and your child slows down, it’s time to take action. Take a look at the tips below and add them to your motivation toolbox.

  • Master basic study skills.
    To stay motivated, children need a solid foundation of study skills. Kids in middle school and high school won’t stay motivated if they aren’t able to study effectively. Once your child has mastered the five key skills for virtual school, such as managing time and navigating a computer, he or she is ready to develop independent study skills. Becoming an independent learner boosts your child’s growth and helps him or her become self-motivated.

  • Use a rewards system.
    Rewards systems can help if your child struggles with motivation. Remember, however, to think of rewards as a first step rather than a long-term solution. If students rely on rewards too much, they might ...

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