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How to Succeed When Getting a Late Start in Virtual School

By: Beth Werrell
Surviving a Late Start in Virtual School

Although beginning virtual school on time is ideal, some families start late for different reasons. Perhaps parents wait too long to enroll, or maybe the need doesn't emerge until students start in a new grade or a new school environment. While the reasons for the delay vary, getting up to speed will require some patience and dedication. Fortunately, a high-quality virtual school will offer family support and practical suggestions that parents can use to help their child overcome this temporary setback and succeed!

Prepare for a catch-up period.

Being behind can cause anxiety for kids and adults alike, so have a discussion about the situation before you begin. Work together to create your family plan for online school. Make sure your students understand that there will be more work than usual during the catch-up period but that it will be temporary. During the school day, encourage your student to take breaks regularly and, when needed, to eat, exercise, or relax. Remember, no one likes all work and no play, so also consider planning fun family outings to celebrate your progress along the way—and when you're back on track.

Talk to the teacher.

Your child's teacher (or teachers) can be your best resource! Schedule an appointment to talk on the phone, and then start compiling a list of your questions and concerns. The teacher can help you understand which learning activities are required and which ones are supplemental and to be used as reinforcement if your student has not yet ...

Support for Parents Starting with Online School

By: Beth Werrell
Helping New Families with Virtual School

It's back-to-school season! For most kids, the new school year means it is time to get in the groove of learning again. And for families just switching to virtual school, the start of the semester signals that parents need to begin learning, too!

Although a parent (or other trusted adult) who is new to the role of Learning Coach for an online school student has much to absorb, a high-quality virtual school will offer plenty of support to help all families succeed. Many of the tips and strategies we recommend are based on years of experience working with students and Learning Coaches, as well as what families tell us works best for them. Explore the list below to discover the kind of resources online schools may provide to help parents guide their students in this rewarding method of at-home education.

Support for Learning Coaches

Becoming a Learning Coach for the first time can initially feel overwhelming—and occasionally, even an experienced Learning Coach needs support. While families who previously homeschooled their children typically have an easy time transitioning to virtual school, they also benefit from having a “safety net” available when they need it. Fortunately, a high-quality online school will provide ways for parents to learn and master Learning Coach skills!

At Connections Academy®–supported schools, families can find both inspiration and information through Get Started!, an onboarding and orientation program, and Get Coaching!, a program dedicated to helping Learning Coaches succeed in this important role. These ...

Start a Successful School Year: 6 Tips for New Virtual Parents

By: Stephanie Osorno
6 Back-to-School Tips for New Virtual School Parents

The results are in—Connections Academy's summer contest, Going for Gold, was a success! To help families prepare for a rewarding school year, Connections Academy–supported schools discussed an important aspect of the virtual school program on all Connections Academy Facebook pages for five weeks. Every Wednesday, participating families had a chance to win a $500 Visa gift card by answering a prompt about their student's academic journey, and we are excited to share some of the many responses that we received from parents and even staff.

Now that the summer fun has come to an end, we thought you could use some back-to-school words of wisdom from experienced online school parents. To kick off the 2016–17 school year, here are a few tips that current Connections Academy parents offered for Learning Coaches and parents who are new to online school.

1. Ask questions.

Understandably, it will take some time to adjust to a virtual learning environment, but you'll have plenty of support and guidance available along the way. If you're feeling confused and need help, don't hesitate to reach out to your student's teachers, as well as his or her school's staff—after all, that's what they are there for! The teachers are used to answering many questions from parents throughout the school year and are happy to help. You can also seek out advice and support from other Learning Coaches in the virtual school community through your school's Facebook page or the Contact a Parent page on the Connections Academy ...

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.

Parent Picks: Our Ten Most Popular Blog Posts

By: Beth Werrell
Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts

Although Connections Academy–supported schools have helped students learn successfully since 2001, online school is still a new idea to many people—and that's one reason why we publish Virtual Learning Connections. Parents can bookmark this blog to explore virtual school, gain online learning tips, and learn how their involvement can make a huge difference in their children's education.

To keep this blog relevant and helpful to families, we analyze which posts generate the most interest. The list below includes audience favorites from 2015 and 2016. Some posts had the highest number of visitors, or "clicks," while others were shared more often or kept the viewer's attention for longer. We hope you'll review this list and learn something new that you can use to prepare for success in online school!

  1. How Parents Can Prepare for Their Role in Virtual School
    Discover how parents can get ready to facilitate learning for students as online school Learning Coaches.

  2. How to Help Your Child Become a Self-Motivated Student
    Try these effective age-appropriate strategies to get your child engaged in and excited about learning.

  3. The Growth Mind-Set: How Intelligence Can Change and Grow
    Think you are “bad” at math or another subject? Think again! Changing your attitude can help your student view learning in a positive light.

  4. Time Management for Students in 5 Easy Steps
    Use these practical tips to support your students as they plan projects and learning schedules.

  5. 5 Things I Wish I Had Known When Considering Online School...

Top Reasons Why Online Schools Work for Parents

By: Beth Werrell
Why Online Schools Work for Parents

Imagine yourself in the shoes of a parent with a child who has asthma. Sometimes, asthma attacks keep your child out of school. He misses classes, homework, and tests—which means he has to work extra hard to catch up. This happens multiple times per year, and it's starting to take a toll on your child and your family.

Now think about the flip side of this scenario: with online learning, your child's asthma attacks don't hold him back. Instead, your child gets schoolwork done at home in a time line that works for you and your family. No more missed tests, stockpiles of homework, or anxiety on account of falling behind.

As a parent of a child in virtual school, you have access to greater flexibility and control. You set your child's daily schedule. You decide if your child can go on a family vacation and still get schoolwork done. You decide when the learning day starts and when it stops.

These are just a few of the many benefits parents can experience when their child attends school online. Over the years, many parents have told us that Connections Academy works well for their family when they can:

  • Dedicate time to keeping the student motivated throughout the day
  • Provide ongoing guidance and encouragement
  • Help monitor student comprehension and progress
  • Organize and structure the learning day
  • Maintain regular contact with their child's teachers
  • Encourage their students to interact with others through field trips, clubs, and community activities
Don't Take ...

6 Steps to Choosing a K12 Online School

By: Beth Werrell

Children spend most of their early lives learning. In fact, most kids spend anywhere from 800 to 1,000 hours* on formal education per year! It’s no surprise that parents want their children to learn from a solid curriculum in the best possible environment.

There are many instances when the best possible option is online learning. But after a quick Google search, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with options—about 75 million options, depending on your search criteria. How can you narrow down your search to ensure you’re finding and choosing the right K–12 online school for your family?

How to Choose A K-12 Online School 

The following steps may help:

Step 1: Understand what your child needs.

As a parent, you know what’s best for your child. This knowledge is crucial to choosing the right school online, because the final decision should align with your child’s needs. Answer these questions:

  1. Would your child benefit from a nationally recognized academic curriculum?
  2. Are you leaning more toward public or private online learning?
  3. Would your child benefit from a personalized learning pace that provides time to speed up for concepts that are easily understood and that permits a student to slow down for more challenging concepts?
  4. Would your child thrive in an environment with fewer distractions and individual attention?
  5. Would your child benefit from working independently and as a part of a team?
  6. Is your child motivated enough to chart his or her own path to the future?

If your answer is yes to the above questions, ...

Words of Appreciation for the Virtual School Community

By: Beth Werrell
Appreciation for the Virtual School Community

Although most schools in the United States only celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, the Connections Education community of learners also does something a bit different. We kick off our "season of appreciation" during the last week of April by reminding students to recognize the important role their Learning Coaches play in their education! Then, in May, we join families in showing appreciation for the caring, certified teachers at Connections Academy® supported online public schools and International Connections Academy online private school.

The appreciative responses we received from students and their families are genuine and heartwarming. And while you may have read our blog posts about how parents/Learning Coaches work as a team with teachers and other school staff, nothing describes this partnership better than a note of thanks written by a student or family member. The excerpts featured below will give you a window into the workings of virtual school and reveal the value families place on becoming a part of a supportive school community.

Families Appreciate Online School Teachers Because…

"I love Connections Academy. One of the reasons why I like this school so much is the communication between teachers and students and Learning Coaches. Our teacher is phenomenal! She is dedicated to organized, fun learning, and bringing out the fun in learning, yet [she is] serious to teach my child that this subject will benefit them in life."
—Melissa B., North Carolina Connections Academy parent

"My third grader loves his homeroom teacher! She is always there to help ...

How Can Parents with Math Anxiety Help Their Kids Learn Math?

By: Beth Werrell
How Learning Coaches Can Overcome Math Anxiety

When I was in school, learning math meant nerve-wracking timed practice drills and intimidating worksheets with endless rows of numbers. My dislike of math turned to math anxiety in fourth grade, when the teacher tested us on multiplication facts orally, in front of the class. I would forget everything I had studied and return to my seat, humiliated by my failure. I never did memorize the multiplication tables. After a while, I began to believe that I was just "bad at math." Like an estimated 10 to 20 percent of adults, I have math anxiety.

If you have math anxiety and are considering an online school for your child, you may worry about helping your child succeed in math. You're smart to think about it, because studies prove that parents may unknowingly pass math anxiety to their kids, negatively impacting a student's achievement in math. Fortunately, with some effort and the tips below, you can overcome this obstacle so that you and your child can succeed in mathematics together.

Your Best Resource

When beginning virtual school, even parents who don't have math anxiety wonder if they'll be able to support their children's mathematics learning. After all, it may have been many years since you last tackled a word problem or solved for x! Luckily this concern is easily put to rest, because with this educational method, unlike traditional homeschooling, a virtual school family has access to a wonderful resource: real, live teachers.

For example, at Connections Academy...

Tips for Juggling Parent and Learning Coach Roles

By: Beth Werrell
Balancing Parent and Learning Coach Roles

Are you juggling parent and Learning Coach roles but are occasionally unsure how to balance the two? Sometimes it can be unclear how and when to switch from being a parent to being a Learning Coach—and vice versa! Although you already have the "inside scoop" about parenting your child, we hope you will appreciate this post. It is designed to help you clarify how the two roles differ and to provide tips and tricks for keeping each role independent of the other.

The Parent Role

Be nurturing. In your parenting role, you are responsible not only for your child's physical needs but also for his or her emotional needs. Your nurturing builds your child's abilities to connect with others, to recognize and respect others' feelings, and to approach difficult situations in a positive way.

Many parents do this instinctively by building strong family networks, using attentive listening, acknowledging their child's challenges and feelings, playing with their children, and showing affection.

As a virtual school parent, it's also important to nurture your child's relationship with positive adult role models and to ensure that your student has time to socialize with other children. At Connections Academy® schools, families can attend in-person field trips and other school events so their students can meet classmates and make friends. Other families choose to socialize their children through participation in sports, scouting, 4-H, the arts, and community- or faith-based organizations. These interactions will help your child build self-esteem as well as communication, collaboration, ...

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