With online school, parent involvement is key! Serving as the student’s Learning Coach, a parent or other trusted adult supports the child’s learning and enjoys a front-row seat to witness those "aha!" moments. Initially, many parents wonder if an ordinary person without teaching experience can do this—and the answer is yes!
While online school usually means doing school at home, one way it’s different from traditional homeschooling is that there are teachers who do the teaching. Depending upon your child’s age, supporting a child’s education may mean things like structuring the daily schedule, providing reminders, communicating with teachers, and keeping the student on track to complete courses on time, but every family does this a bit differently! Check out the advice below, given by parents who are already giving their children the advantages of a personalized virtual school education.
Have the right mind-set
Many parents believe that having the right attitude can make a big difference in finding your family’s "groove" in virtual school.
"Take each day as it comes. Stay consistent and open-minded. Listen to your kiddo, and value this time and their feedback. Be willing to be flexible, but set limits." —Sheila L.
"Have patience with yourself first!" —Amanda V.
"As a Learning Coach, be open to learning alongside your student! Every day, mundane activities can be new teaching/learning opportunities! One last thing: never be afraid to ask for help. We’ve all got to start somewhere!" —Nikki G.
"Don’t panic and don’t overthink. You can make something simple turn into something complicated quickly." —Cristy R.
"Give your children the attention they deserve to move forward and to understand why they are attending school." —Shelley F.
"Stay consistent, laugh a lot, remember why you chose schooling from home, and stay organized." —Sherry B.
"Allow your children to go at their own pace. Just provide the best learning environment and let them discover their best way to learn!" —Jeannette
"Understand that your student is not a cookie-cutter version of all other students—each one will be unique in his or her learning style and successes. Have fun, take breaks, and make sure you are all finding things you enjoy!" —Jennifer S.
"Mix it up. One of the big plusses to using online school is the freedom and the time to add what we want. Trips to local museums, wildlife refuges, YouTube videos, community projects—so many things we can use to keep our students engaged and help them to apply and retain the information they are going over." —Andy and Rachel
Advance preparation isn’t just for Boy Scouts—it’s the best policy for Learning Coaches, too.
"Set up a separate room/area just for school. Be very organized, and use visuals, such as calendars, daily reminders, a dry-erase board, etc. Make the learning environment bright and interesting. Keep up with attendance and checking off assignments daily. Organize, organize, organize; it makes things go so much smoother." —Kelly S. C.
"I always set aside Friday night to pull all the lessons for the next week and make sure we have all needed materials. It’s a lifesaver for us." —Elizabeth R.
"I really recommend that you be one week ahead of your students: you will know what they need and how to prepare for it. Check the rubrics together. There are some lessons that are meant to be spread over several days—do not try to finish those in one day!" —Elena S.
"Look ahead! As a Learning Coach, I don’t want to be caught off guard needing something we may not have or stumbling around the lesson trying to figure things out while my kids are getting bored." —Amber G.
"Plan ahead and read everything!" —Marteeta S.
"At the end of each day, we make sure everything is ready for the next day. We make sure the computer is charged and pencils are sharpened. We also talk about our game plan and what is expected for the following day. Having five other kids, I find it easy just to always stay three steps ahead on life." —Shannon H.
Buckle down and do the schoolwork
Experienced Learning Coaches and online students offer lots of useful advice for helping students stay on track with their studies.
"Read over all materials and do not skip steps. Check your to-do list and emails daily." —Hollis S.
"Always check to make sure there are no changes to the assignment before beginning. There is no bigger frustration than completing an assignment and finding there was a change and then having to start over!" —Brenda C.
"We purchased a weekly planner. This way we can write down when my students have a portfolio due. Take it one day, one class, at a time. I have a clock that we have set up. I give [my students] forty-five minutes in each class. If they finished before that time, they can go to the next assignment for that class." —Chanin C.
"Try not to get overwhelmed. Instead, just knock out one lesson at a time, and eventually the work will be done." —Kristen H.
"Let your kids do the work. And if they need you for something, remind them you are always there for them—and so are all the teachers! Patience is the key for parents and the students!" —Sherry K.
"Look at the rubrics [for assignments] and listen to that teacher’s online class recording if you have questions. [Teachers] usually discuss bigger assignments during their [LiveLesson] classes. And if needed, go right to the teachers with questions. Take the time to learn your teacher’s expectations for work assignments." —Valari A.
"Make sure you have everything you need for the lessons. Set goals. If you get frustrated, take a break, take a walk—get some air—and then knock it out! Celebrate reaching your goals and accomplishments." —HollyAnn C.
We hope using these great parent-tested tips will inspire you, help you make a smoother transition to online school, or equip you to overcome an issue your family is having. Visit the blog again next week for more tips from these experienced virtual school experts!