In recent years, many parents with elementary-aged children have chosen online school over traditional in-person school. That has a lot to do with the opportunities online elementary school offers—and the challenges it can help parents and children address. But is it the best choice for your family?
Here’s what you need to know to ensure your elementary-aged child succeeds at an online school.
How to Choose the Right Online School for Your Elementary Student
When thinking about online school, some parents worry that their child could fall behind in their learning. And while research has shown that some students and parents face issues with online learning, the fact of the matter is that most of the concerns come from myths about online school, or are the result of an online school that was offered in an emergency situation.
The reality is that quality online schools have a lot of benefits for elementary-aged students, but not every online school experience is the same. The key to ensuring your child succeeds while learning online is to choose a school that builds real relationships with students and gives both students and parents the individualized support they need to overcome any challenge.
What a Quality Online School Looks Like
First and foremost, a quality online school is specifically designed to be online. It’s not an otherwise in-person school taught over the internet. It’s a school that’s specifically centered on a curriculum and teaching tools designed for online instruction, and it’s always working to make the online classroom experience truly engaging.
While a quality online school offers remote learning, it doesn’t feel remote. Instead, teachers connect one-on-one with students, ensuring that each student gets the differentiated instruction they need, when they need it. And the best online schools work closely with parents too, making sure they are able to stay involved and be successful in the supportive role of Learning Coach.
Nevertheless, a quality online school can be a public school. That’s the case with Connections Academy. In fact, Connections Academy has 20+ years of experience providing tuition-free public school education to K-12 students online. From its very beginning, Connections Academy has been designed by educational experts to be online, which allows it to take full advantage of what virtual school offers. And it allows Connections Academy students and parents to thrive.
The Advantages to Learning at an Online Elementary School
When online school is done right, there are a number of benefits for elementary-aged students. These include:
- Flexibility. Online schools offer students more flexibility, allowing them to engage in extracurriculars and/or schedule their day in a manner that helps them stay focused and aligns with the way they learn best.
- Tailored learning. Not every student learns the same way or has the same goals. A quality online elementary school avoids one-size-fits all instruction and instead works with students and their parents to lay the right, individualized learning path. Additionally, teachers connect personally with their students, providing tailored and effective instruction, whether a student needs extra help, is seeking advanced learning, or has any other type of need or desire unique to them.
- Opportunity to learn life skills. The skills elementary-aged students acquire while learning online are the kinds of skills they’ll need in an always-changing world. Adaptability. Versatility. Open-mindedness. These skills, known as soft skills, are exceptionally important to future success.
How to Identify a Good Elementary Lesson Plan at an Online School
Children of different ages learn in different ways. That’s why quality online schools ensure that each grade level has a curriculum and individual lessons that are specifically designed for that age group’s stage of learning.
When assessing an online elementary school’s curriculum, make sure that classes are led by elementary school teachers who know how to build meaningful relationships with students and who specialize in helping students thrive in the online school environment. In addition, the school should use the latest teaching tools crafted to make the online learning experience as engaging as possible.
In regards to what the curriculum should actually look like, Connections Academy offers great examples of lesson plans for elementary students learning online.
Aligned with state and national standards, Connections Academy’s expert-designed, high-quality curriculum demonstrates how strong lesson plans can capture the attention and imagination of online elementary school students
While units of study and individual lessons at Connections Academy vary, here’s a general lesson plan sample for elementary-level classes and how it progresses through a multi-day learning unit:
- Teachers may begin each unit with social-emotional learning that helps students build self-awareness and self-management skills.
- Students then explore the concepts in the lesson through a multimedia blend of text, interactive keywords, and videos.
- Research and/or interactive worksheets provide an opportunity for hands-on learning that sparks student curiosity and helps expand their understanding of the topic.
- Near the end of the unit, students engage in experiential learning, applying what they’ve learned to an individual or group project.
- Throughout the unit, students take short quizzes to check their learning and then end the unit with a final test that gives them a chance to show what they’ve learned.
Over the course of a unit, the class’s teacher is available to connect with students about the material and help them overcome learning challenges. Students also have the benefit of having a Learning Coach to turn to for assistance.
How Being a Learning Coach Can Help Your Child Succeed Online
As your child’s parent or guardian, you’ll play an important role in their online elementary education. Specifically, you’ll be their Learning Coach.
A Learning Coach is a student's at-home guide through their learning experience. Being a Learning Coach means having the opportunity to be involved in your child’s education. After all, who knows them better than you do? And having someone present who knows their passions, challenges, habits, and motivations can significantly improve a child’s learning outcome.
Plus, being a Learning Coach and watching your child learn and grow can be quite rewarding for you as well.
The Responsibilities of a Learning Coach
The grades K-5 set your child up for a lifetime of learning. As their Learning Coach, you can help ensure they develop the skills and love of learning they’ll need in middle school, high school, and beyond.
The typical elementary school Learning Coach spends time each day overseeing schoolwork. The experience includes:
- Scheduling your child’s day so they complete their work and enjoy breaks
- Lending a hand with lessons when needed
- Regularly connecting with your child’s teacher
- Helping make sure your child understands their lessons and is progressing
- Celebrating your child's achievements and encouraging them forward
While being a Learning Coach is an important responsibility, you won’t be alone.
Resources Available for Learning Coaches
A quality online school like Connections Academy understands that for a Learning Coach to succeed you need resources and support. That’s why Connections Academy provides:
- An online orientation program that sets you up for success
- 24/7 access to the school’s Learning Coach Central, a hub for all kinds of helpful resources
- A toll-free number you can call if you need any kind of technical or computer support
- Easy ways to virtually connect with teachers and staff
- A parent network where you can connect with other Learning Coaches and share tips and advice
Enrolling your child in the right online elementary school can give them the educational experience they need to build confidence, gain perseverance, and succeed academically. And, as their Learning Coach, you can be the guiding hand they need throughout their journey.
To learn more about online school and how you can be a great Learning Coach, read our article on tips for being your child’s learning coach.