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How to Implement a Chore Chart Reward System for Kids

By: Beth Werrell

Does your child lack motivation to finish his or her chores? Are you unsure where to start when it comes to keeping track of completed chores?

Children may be inspired to work hard and correct resistant behavior if they are working toward a goal, which is where a chore reward system may come in handy. Take a look at these step-by-step instructions to make a homemade chore chart for your child.

Once you have implemented a process for keeping track of household chores, you can reflect on the idea of a reward system for your child. Let's start by considering his or her age.

Age-Appropriate Reward Structures

For young children, financial responsibility and "saving up" are most likely new concepts. To help your child develop good financial habits early, consider a reward system that offers a more immediate reward. Some age-appropriate rewards for children in elementary school include:

  • Reading an extra bedtime story
  • Having a picnic at the park
  • Having a pizza night
  • Going roller skating or ice skating
  • Having a playdate
  • Getting a chance to earn small sums of money

Preteens and teenagers should have greater understanding of how to budget money. They should also know that they will have to work harder and wait longer for certain rewards. To reinforce this concept, have your child collect a star or memento on each day of the week and then turn them all in at the end of the week for ...

Home Classroom Design Ideas for Online Students

By: Beth Werrell

When students make the transition to online learning, parents often want to upgrade the design and location of the home study station. With your student using the area full-time, it makes sense to ensure that the space is comfortable, appealing, and appropriate for many types of learning activities. Whether you are a "veteran" virtual school family or just starting, consider our tips for designing a learning space—they're sure to help you make the most of your home classroom!

Look for Sunlight

One thing to consider for your at-home learning space should be how much natural light the space receives. Because sunlight triggers cortisol levels to rise and affects general emotional and physical well-being, it can positively influence your child's productivity. Sunlight can also combat the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One note of caution: when positioning your child's computer monitor, be sure to compensate for sun glare.

Consider the Amount of Space

When designing the learning area, it's important to allow space for both online and offline work as well as storage. For efficiency, your student needs to have his or her computer and all school supplies, learning materials, and textbooks, within easy reach. Families with more than one student learning from home should make sure each student has his or her own place to store materials.

If your students will share a common work surface, allow enough space so they can work without bumping elbows with their fellow learners. ...

5 Keys to Effective Parent-Teacher Communication in Virtual School

By: Stephanie Osorno
Parent-Teacher Communication in Virtual School

In any school setting, communicating and interacting with teachers is essential for a successful school year. Among other things, teachers can assist parents in identifying their student’s areas of weakness, provide extra help, and offer suggestions for improvement.

In a bricks-and-mortar school, parent–teacher conferences are usually held a few times a year to discuss a student’s progress. While virtual schools don’t hold official conferences, teachers regularly check in with families, and parents can also reach out whenever they need to through email, message boards, or a phone call. Online teachers are always eager to help in any way they can. At Connections Academy, they make at least three real-time contacts with parents or Learning Coaches each school year—whether this is done through a phone conversation or a face-to-face meeting.

As you and your family get back into the daily school routine, consider the following suggestions to help you prepare for frequent parent-teacher communication throughout the year!

  1. Make a list of questions.
    If any general questions or concerns come up, make sure to write them down. It will be easier to give your student’s teacher an update if you already have a list of topics to discuss. Connections Academy teachers conduct welcome calls at the beginning of the year to introduce themselves and get things started—a great opportunity for parents to address issues early, before diving into the school year. A list will also help you to feel more prepared and ready for the conversation!
  2. Set a goal.

6 Steps to Help Families Start Strong in Virtual School

By: Beth Werrell
6 Steps to Start Strong in Virtual School

When parents enroll a child in virtual school, the decision to educate at home is only the first—and often the easiest—step! Although some parents, once they adapt to online learning, find it very rewarding and report that it's the best fit for their child, many of those same parents found it overwhelming at the beginning. Fortunately, there are six simple steps families can take now to overcome these early challenges and make a successful start in virtual school.

  1. Orientation
    A high-quality online school typically provides orientation materials to help parents learn how to support their child's learning. At Connections Academy schools, both students and parents benefit from an online orientation course presented using the same learning platform as the curriculum. As they learn about their new responsibilities as online students and Learning Coaches, they are also familiarizing themselves with the computer systems.

    To help new Learning Coaches learn "the ropes," some school locations may invite them to attend in-person orientation events. Whether seminar style or more of a meeting format, these events can benefit families that want to gain a better understanding of how to guide their child's learning.

  2. Organize the Learning Space
    Organization is always an appropriate theme for your student's home classroom. Assemble-it-yourself furniture is a great, affordable way to furnish the at-home learning environment. But if that's not in your budget, try a yard sale! A battered bookshelf bought at a yard sale can become a perfect storage area for school ...

How Parents Can Prepare for Their Role in Virtual School

By: Stephanie Osorno
How New Learning Coaches Can Prepare for Virtual School

If your student is transitioning to a virtual learning environment, you will soon be playing a significant and exciting new role in his or her education. Like any other new venture, becoming a well-informed virtual school parent requires time and dedication. Actively preparing for and learning about your new role as Learning Coach will not only help you feel more confident, but will also allow your student to start the school year off strong.

Consider the following suggestions to help you and your family get ready for a successful school year!

Before the School Year Starts

Make sure to take advantage of all of your school's orientation resources and events—a great way to become more acquainted with the virtual school program. For instance, families enrolling with Connections Academy can sign up for Online Parent-to-Parent Orientations, which are webinars hosted by experienced parents who share their insight, answer questions, and give pointers. Your school might even host an open house or special summer events where you and your family can meet the staff and other virtual school families face-to-face.

You should also take some time to explore the school's learning management system. Virtual schools usually provide online tools to help families get started. Connections Academy offers a collection of helpful resources specifically designed for newly enrolled parents. These are available in Learning Coach Central within Connexus.

Here are some other things you can do before school starts:

  • Set up your student's learning space in an area free ...

An Easy Summer Assignment for New Online School Parents

By: Kimberly McConnell
Easy Summer Assignment for Virtual School Parents

Much like an accomplished sporting league, a successful virtual learning experience evolves from a team effort. In virtual school, the team consists of the student, teacher, and parent or Learning Coach.

As a teacher, I am always eager to talk to parents and students throughout the year so that I can assess progress and help with areas of weakness. If you're new to virtual school, you might ask yourself, "How do I know if my child is really learning?" To help you better understand your student's learning style and prepare for regular communication with his or her teacher throughout the year, consider completing the following summer assignment.

Online Learning Coach Summer Assignment

You can start to gauge students' learning patterns by observing their engagement with enjoyable hobbies. Set some time aside to observe your child while he or she plays a board game, a sport, or even an instrument. Here are some things you can look for:

  • What keeps your student's attention? Is it the colorful board? The characters? Speed or motion? A challenge or competition?
  • Watch for facial expressions and determine what they tell you about how your child is connecting with the game or activity. Is he or she smiling or frowning? What kinds of expressions show that your child is thinking hard?
  • What seemed to give your child a sense of accomplishment? Was it figuring something out? Achieving a high score? Working as a team with another child? Completing something or ...

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 ...

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