Some families choose online school for the flexible scheduling, but did you realize that this advantage can also help students succeed academically? Even small adjustments can make a difference. Recognizing a child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs, a parent can tweak the learning schedule. Whether changes are short term or long term, a personalized online school schedule benefits students and enables them to make the most of their education.
As you support your child’s academic efforts, consider these options for modifying the virtual school day to enhance learning.
1. Shuffle the order of subjects.
There is no rule or bell schedule that says your online school student must start the day with math, then move on to science. You may want to let your child decide on the order of the day. Some kids like to start with their favorite subject, while others save it until the end as an incentive. Or take a look at your student’s planner and schedule accordingly. To help with concentration, for example, you may want to suggest that your student complete tests or complex assignments when your home is quiet, such as while a younger sibling is napping.
2. Consider your child’s tendencies.
Do you have a night owl or an early bird? Does your student get restless at a certain time of day? Think about these natural rhythms and characteristics and integrate them into your learning schedule. Plan to do the most challenging subject at the time of day when your child seems most alert. Save less demanding lessons—or the more fun and engaging learning activities—for when he or she needs a boost.
3. Tackle the block schedule
For virtual school students who are slow to shift gears from one topic to another, consider trying a block schedule. A block schedule means setting aside a longer time slot and completing multiple lessons for one course. This kind of scheduling is also good for students who prefer to get in the groove of one course and dig deep.
4. Divide and conquer.
Kids who are easily bored may prefer completing one lesson—or even one part of a lesson—and then moving on to another subject. Reducing learning activities into “bite-sized” pieces also makes large tasks seem less daunting. Just make sure they circle back to complete all of the pieces!
5. Pause to de-stress.
You know your student best and can recognize the signs of extreme frustration or stress. Online learning gives you the opportunity to intervene before a meltdown begins. A five- to ten-minute break for a drink, a walk around the yard, or a snuggle with you or the family pet can cool a student’s temper and clear his or her head for a better learning experience.
6. Reschedule for a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a student doesn’t get to sleep until hours after the normal bedtime. A late evening basketball game, a trip to the emergency room, car trouble, a sick sibling’s coughing—for whatever reason, your child simply won’t have had enough rest if the alarm goes off at the usual time. With virtual school, you can avoid a late start by changing your start time on the day after these events so your student can awake well rested and ready to learn.
7. Burn off the excess energy.
Some children just seem to have more—more energy, more enthusiasm, more ideas for getting into mischief! To help them succeed academically, you may need to schedule frequent breaks for vigorous physical activity. It could be anything—playing tag, riding a bike, jogging through the neighborhood, or doing conditioning exercises for a favorite sport. With an appropriate way to channel their abundant liveliness, these dynamic students will be better prepared to concentrate on their studies.
8. Integrate personal interests.
With online school, the more flexible schedule allows you to mix a student's personal interests into the learning day. Piano practice, gardening, drawing, or volunteering could become a break between two challenging subjects. You can also use hobbies and interests as a motivator and reward for completing schoolwork. In addition, opportunities may arise to integrate these interests into assignments and projects. Writing an essay may not seem as boring if the topic is ice hockey, ballet, or scouting!
By paying attention to your child’s actions while learning, you can understand best how to structure the learning schedule. Whether large or small, these personalized adjustments can improve your child’s attitude and remove barriers to achieving academic success.
What kind of breaks do you plan to help your child deal with frustration or stress? Share your best ideas in the comments.