As a virtual elementary school teacher with Ohio Connections Academy for the past five years, I have received tons of parent feedback. Most parents are excited about taking an active role in their child’s education, but they also want to make sure to keep it engaging—and even fun. Here are some creative tips I have shared with families that take advantage of the benefits of virtual school to keep learning exciting:
Social Studies: Why not turn that social studies assignment/project into a family virtual field trip? Depending upon the assignment, either start your morning or take the afternoon to visit that location across the world online. Some Web sites that offer great virtual trips are:
• Visit the Statue of Liberty
• Walk the streets of 18th-century Williamsburg, Virginia
• Explore an Ancient Roman Villa
• Experience camp life during the Civil War
On a large bulletin board or in an empty photo album, keep track of the virtual cities/countries you visit throughout the school year. Finally, have your younger child create a postcard sharing one cool thing your family discovered or learned about.
Language Arts: Your student has to write a persuasive essay. Uggghh!! No need to panic; this can be fun. First, get online and go to your child’s favorite online store and do some “shopping.” Give him ten minutes to find five items/toys he feels he just has to have. Next, ask him to provide three reasons why his life would be better with these new items. Then, you supply three reasons why he shouldn’t have the items. Finally, continue the conversation/debate over lunch and allow another family member to decide whose argument is more convincing. After doing all of this, there will be plenty to write about!
Math: Story problems again! Make it a family event. One person can be the dramatic reader, one person can be the detective that identifies what needs to be found and determines all the clues in the problem, and then everyone can figure out what resources to use to help solve the problem. What a great way to bring the family together!
Science: Not another lab experiment! Turn the assignment into a Family Movie Night with a Live Show afterwards. Watch a short video about the science experiment, if your virtual school provides one or you can find one online. Next, allow your kids to put on a little live show for everyone else by taking on the role of a scientist and demonstrating the lab for the family. They can even call on family members in the crowd to assist with the demonstration. Finally, have a discussion about the lab and allow each family member a chance to comment on what they thought would happen as compared to the actual results of the lab.
Finally, remember: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself” (John Dewey).