Tips to Support Success for K-12 Students and Families in Online School

5 min to read
A Connections Academy online school student attending class on her laptop.

Making the transition to online school full-time can be an adjustment for everyone involved. But when your student knows they have support from you as their Learning Coach, they can feel confident that they will succeed.

Tips to Transition to Full-Time Online Learning for K-12 Students

Create a Plan for Success.

When your student attended an in-person school, they were used to a routine. You want to keep that going so that the transition to online school is successful for all students.

Here are some ways to create a new routine when learning from home full-time:

Make a schedule.

Track what assignments need to be completed each day/week. While younger students may need some help, older students should be able to get this going on their own.

When making a schedule, be sure to build breaks into the day and try not to cram too many lessons into one block. Generally, 30-50 minutes of learning, then a break, makes a good schedule, though younger students may need more frequent breaks. If you’re having trouble developing a schedule, Connections Academy provides useful examples for all age groups.

Ensure everyone is on the same page.

Be sure your student knows what is expected of them when completing their schoolwork from home and how to best reach their teachers, whether by phone, email, or class website.

Ensure they understand what needs to be done by asking them to describe the assignment to you. If they can’t describe it, chances are they’re going to have a hard time completing it.

Attend LiveLessons.

If there are live, synchronous online classes or collaborative activities available, ensure your student is attending when they can. For students making the transition to online school, these opportunities are vital, as they give students the chance to meet their peers and interact with their teachers should they need additional help or have questions. But if students cannot attend live, classes are often recorded and students can participate in online discussion boards on their own time.

Review and reflect on the day.

At the end of the day, reserve time to ask your student what they learned and to show you what they worked on.

Organize Your Space.

When your student is learning from home, they need to have a dedicated school space, even if it’s just a small space. Look for an area that is away from the television or other distractions and noise. If you have more than one student learning from home, consider separate spaces to allow them to focus better.

You want your student’s learning space to be:

  • Quiet – Keep them away from distractions.
  • Monitored – Their learning space should be somewhere you can easily check in on them.
  • Comfortable – Find a place where they can focus and get their work done while making it feel like their own.
An online school student attending class on his laptop.

Encourage a Growth Mindset.

Making the transition to online school can make some students feel frustrated or overwhelmed. They might demonstrate what is referred to as a “fixed mindset” about learning from home and their ability to be a self-directed learner, rather than having a growth mindset.

Having a growth mindset means that a person’s abilities can improve through effort, learning, and persistence. A growth mindset is also about the attitude someone has when they are challenged, and how they move on and evolve when they fail.

To encourage a growth mindset in your student, push them to persist through tough assignments. Praise their accomplishments when appropriate.

If your student is struggling with an assignment, ask them:

  • What else can you try?
  • What have you learned so far?
  • Can you tell me what you’ve tried so far?

Set Learning Goals.

If your student is struggling to complete assignments, try suggesting that you set goals together to help complete the work. Goals should be challenging but attainable, with clear steps to achieve them. For example, a reading and writing assignment goal might consist of the following:

  • Read the chapter
  • Take notes on the chapter
  • Complete the writing assignment associated with the chapter

Look for ways to monitor progress in achieving their goals. This can be a simple checklist or a chart with star stickers for younger students. You may also want to consider gamifying learning by rewarding small prizes for their achievements when your student reaches a goal.

Give Students Ownership.

Unlike leaving the house to go to school, full-time online learning means your student will spend most of their time at home. While you want to be supportive, it is also important to take a step back so your student can learn to be independent. Give them space to not only do their work by themselves but also gain a strong sense of self-identity.

This means letting them make some decisions about their day and activities. For example, let them decide whether they want to do math or reading first. Ask them how much they think needs to be done to meet the teacher’s expectations. If it’s not enough, suggest they do more, especially if they want to reach the goals they’ve set.

Connect with Other Students and Families

When your student is learning at home, they may miss the socialization that comes with physically sitting in a classroom with other kids their age. If you can, you may want to create a support network for your student and yourself by reaching out to other families who are also enrolled in a full-time online school, homeschool, or other families in your community—either through the school or in social media groups. Since you’re new to the at-home schooling game, this can give you valuable insight about what to expect as well as form new relationships.

Finally, when making the transition to online school, always ask your student’s teacher for support when needed. As much as you may try to help and guide them, there may come a time when you need to reach out or get extra help from a tutor. Remembering this and following the tips we provided can help your child write their own learning from home success story.

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