Online school gives families an excellent opportunity for parent involvement in their students’ learning. In fact, once a family experiences the benefits of educating one child at home, they often enroll the rest! While there are challenges involved in coaching multiple online students, it can be done successfully, and as a result, kids will enjoy having more family time and a more flexible learning schedule.
The most important key to effectively coaching multiple students is strategic planning. The following tips gathered from teachers and experienced online school parents can help you set up a system to ensure your students get ample attention and the support they need from you.
Create a Schedule
Throughout each day, we recommend that you plan to work with your students on a rotating basis. Optimize your time by creating a schedule in which you can work with each online student individually.
- Use a planner consistently. Whether you prefer a large calendar on the wall, a pocket-sized book, an online calendar, or the planner built in to the online school system, it’s vital to record scheduled events for yourself and each of your students. Add virtual classroom sessions, appointments, and other activities. Noting test dates and project deadlines is also key to keeping kids on track and avoiding all-nighters. Be sure to include events that affect all members of the household, like a vacation. As students mature, encourage them to use planners themselves.
- Set an appointment. At the beginning of each week, look ahead at your students’ planners to determine when each student is free to check in with you. Schedule times with one student while others are in a virtual classroom session, in a club, or otherwise occupied.
- Customize the school day. Allow students to begin and end the day at different times to accommodate their optimum work rhythm. Schedule one-on-one time with one student when others are not working. Check your schedule and revise it if needed.
- Allow time for breaks. Students need time to unwind, and so do you! Short breaks for exercise not only help get the wiggles out but also can help a frustrated student avoid a meltdown.
- Use timers. Help students keep track of time spent on lesson completion by using timers set for the average. And set alarms for LiveLesson® sessions and other activities so that students don’t miss them.
Plan and Prepare
As an online school parent, you’ll find that looking at lessons and assignments in advance will help you plan ahead and organize for the best use of learning time. Recommended ways of parent involvement in education include:
- View lessons over the weekend, or before the student begins each day. Take notes on lesson requirements for each student so you know what to check for as you monitor lesson completion.
- For each student, make a list of work that can be done independently and work that requires your assistance. You might even prepare folders with directions and any needed printouts.
- Encourage students to create their own to-do lists based on their planners. Check the lists to monitor completion throughout the day.
- Have activities and supplies on hand for preschoolers. Incorporate younger children into the day with tasks for them to complete.
Organize Learning Spaces
An effective home classroom or other online learning space can make a big difference for students. Consider the approaches listed below, and select the one that works best for your family’s working style:
- For some families, having all students together in the same room works best.
- For others, having separate areas for each student with the Learning Coach rotating between areas is more effective.
- Some families create learning zones, for example, a quiet work zone, an art zone, and a conversation or group-work zone.
Whatever you decide works best, be sure to keep each online learning space organized, and hold your students accountable by having them own the following responsibilities:
- Keep supplies and equipment in specified places.
- Maintain folders and binders. Throw away papers that are no longer needed. Organize current documents using labeled folders or tabs in binders.
- Keep pencils, pens, paper, and other consumable supplies well stocked.
With a bit of extra organization and planning, plus the support of your students’ online school teacher, you can help ensure your kids have an online school experience. Once you figure out your system, you can begin to truly appreciate the rewards of being involved in your children’s education and seeing them learn and grow every day.
To learn how you can be more involved in your child’s education through online public school, visit the Connections Academy website. Or to learn about online private school, visit Pearson Online Academy ’s website.