How Does Online School Work?

6 min to read
Connections Academy student on computer

When trying to determine whether online school is right for you and your family, you often try to picture what a typical day would look like or how your student will engage with their teacher. But those who have little experience with online school may have a hard time pulling together that image and only be met with more questions like:

At Connections Academy®, we receive a lot of questions about how online public school works. While many students and parents are curious about online school and its benefits, the idea of making the leap from a traditional setting to a virtual one leaves many wondering what it’s actually like, how to prepare for online school, and whether it will be the best option based on their needs.

Parents may also worry about the role they play in their student’s online learning experience serving as Learning Coach. But, at Connections Academy, Learning Coaches are never alone when it comes to supporting their child in learning online. From certified teachers to meaningful live online classroom interactions, families at Connections Academy are fully supported and can thrive.

4 Key Components That Make Up the Online School Experience

1. Teacher Support and Involvement

As your student is learning, Connections Academy’s dedicated and certified teachers will also be there, making sure your child is making progress, understanding lessons, and acting quickly if they are struggling. Connections Academy teachers are specially trained to teach online and provide support for the entire learning family every step of the way.

From elementary school homeroom to advisory support in higher grades, Connections Academy knows that the more touchpoints a student has with a teacher outside of the online classroom, the more they feel connected and supported. This personal attention from teachers and certified school counselors helps engage and motivate students in a meaningful way that makes a difference.

The frequency of interaction with teachers depends on the needs of your student. Teachers connect with students through phone, WebMail messages, and LiveLesson® sessions, adjusting the type of interaction based on whether a student needs one-on-one remedial support, a small group practice session, or an enrichment activity to extend learning. While LiveLesson® sessions are scheduled, teachers hold office hours and meet with students by appointment or request as needed.

Whether your child just needs some additional resources to support lesson comprehension or would benefit from small group or one-on-one instruction, our teachers will make it happen so your child can achieve their goals.

Teachers also assist and collaborate with the student’s Learning Coach, offering support that will help ensure student success throughout their learning journey.

A father is helping his dauther take notes for an online class

2. The Role of Learning Coach

If you’re considering enrolling your child in Connections Academy, they will need a parent or guardian to serve as their Learning Coach. As their parent, you know best what they need, what engages and excites them, and what challenges them. You know what they dream of when they imagine their future. As their Learning Coach, you’ll be by their side, partnering with our teachers and staff to help your child become the person you know they can be.

Unlike homeschooling, you won’t be your child’s teacher. Instead, you’ll be there to structure your child’s school day, monitor attendance, stay in touch with teachers by phone or email, and provide one-on-one support for learning activities. Some responsibilities of the Learning Coach include:

  • Encouraging breaks throughout the day when appropriate.
  • Motivating the student to complete lessons.
  • Ensuring the student has enough rest and nutrients for a productive school day.
  • Asking the student what he or she learned at the end of each day and offering support as needed.

While you may not always have to be in the room, you’ll need to monitor your child’s daily learning and make sure they’re understanding and completing their lessons. For students in grades K–5, Learning Coaches can expect to spend about five hours per day overseeing schoolwork; as your student becomes a more independent learner in middle and high school, the Learning Coach time commitment and oversight of schoolwork reduces.

3. The Virtual Classroom Experience

Beyond personal interactions with teachers and asynchronous learning supported by the Learning Coach, students and teachers meet regularly in the online classroom for live instruction that enriches the learning experience. Known as LiveLesson® sessions at Connections Academy, the purpose of these live sessions is to provide students with direct instruction, differentiated and targeted support, peer-to-peer interaction, and practice opportunities.

While frequency of these sessions varies by grade level and course, most sessions are delivered through using a web-based program (either Adobe Connect or Zoom) that allows teachers to communicate with students using a variety of interactive tools, including video, audio, chat, whiteboard, poll questions, and more.

During live instruction, teachers reinforce challenging concepts and motivate students to become active learners by engaging and participating in activities, asking questions, and collaborating with peers through microphone and chat.

These virtual classroom sessions foster collaboration and bring the curriculum to life while allowing teachers to build positive relationships with students and gather information from them about lesson comprehension.

4. Peer Interaction and Socialization

It’s a common misconception that online learners don’t engage with their peers. So, how does online school work when it comes to socializing? At Connections Academy, students have opportunities to interact with peers who are enrolled in the same courses through course discussion boards and LiveLesson® sessions. Students also have ample social opportunities to connect with peers through optional extracurricular clubs, activities, and field trips.

Between teacher involvement, a Learning Coach, extracurriculars, and interacting with peers who are sharing in a similar learning experience, your student will be able to engage in meaningful social interactions that are either part of, or separate from, their curriculum

A young girl is raising her hand during an online class

Why Families Are Seeking Learning Alternatives

The reason families seek out alternative school options varies from family to family. One common reason is the need for flexible scheduling. For example, when families travel frequently or have other scheduling conflicts, the flexibility of online school provides an ideal solution. Students with special needs such as autism or cerebral palsy often find that online school is a more convenient and effective way to learn.

In other cases, there may be a seemingly unresolvable issue taking place in a traditional school setting, such as bullying or limited learning accommodations.

Online school can instill in students a greater sense of autonomy and responsibility, allowing them to take learning into their own hands while also receiving the guidance of a Learning Coach and virtual teaching supports.

Online school is not “harder” than traditional school, but it is more customizable and individualized. This means that the degree of difficulty can be more easily adjusted—raised or lowered—based on your child’s learning needs. There are many benefits of online school, so take the time to learn more about how virtual school can be the right choice for your family.

Taking the Next Step

The benefits of online school are vast at every grade level. If you feel that online learning may be a good fit for your family, check out our eGuide that offers ways to help your child prepare for online school, as well as useful resources, inspirational stories, and sample schedules.

E-guide for Connections Academy with a green background and a graphic of a laptop with the purple eGuide.

Ready to Learn More

About Connections Academy?

Explore the benefits of attending Connections Academy, a tuition-free, accredited online public school that’s passionate about helping your child thrive.  

Get Your Free eGuide


Related Posts