4 Ways to Develop School Spirit in Online School

5 min to read
A group of students huddled together and smiling

Going to school is one of the first opportunities children have to explore a community on their own—even for those attending school online! Right alongside learning, students spend their school years connecting to their peers through shared experiences—building friendships that can last long after graduation. Hopefully, their connections with other students can even turn into a sense of pride for their school community.  

But just with like academic subjects, students learn social cues and behaviors at different rates, in different ways. And that’s okay! If this has been a challenge for your student, explore our simple strategies for online school students to gain a feeling of school spirit and interconnectedness with their peers.  

What is School Spirit? 

Traditionally, school spirit is a feeling of pride a student, teacher, or even parent has for their school community. This feeling is often grown during group events, including during class, while attending school events, or by sporting the school colors.  

While students with school spirit are often involved in the school as a community, which can look like staying active in clubs, student council, or on teams, it can also manifest itself in smaller ways such as celebrating another student’s success, being happy when the school wins awards, or simply being proud to be a student at the school.  

Regardless of how school spirit is expressed, a sense of school pride comes with feelings of interconnectedness, belonging, and purpose for a student, which can be incredibly valuable for their overall wellbeing personally and academically. 

Why is Connection to School and Peers Important for Students?

A sense of belonging for a student in their community can vastly improve the school experience. When students feel a sense of connection with their peers, they’re more likely to have improved mental health and face lower rates of violence and bullying.

Connecting with other students and their school community is particularly valuable for kids who may have felt isolated or who had negative social experiences in previous learning environments.

A 2014 study of over 1,000 students explored the link between school spirit and the high school experience, finding a positive link between school spirit, student performance, and overall emotional state. Students with a greater sense of school spirit were also more likely to have higher GPAs and increased levels of confidence, feel more fulfilled, and were more likely to be leaders.

A group of online school students sharing their school spirit and interconnectedness.

How Can Online School Students Build School Spirit?

1. Get to Know Their Classmates and Celebrate their Wins

For a student, taking the time to learn about their classmates can help them relate to others better and bond over shared experiences, whether over a group assignment they collaborated on or a field trip they are excited to take. As their personal network grows, students are more likely to share their own successes with peers and potentially celebrate the successes of their classmates.

Students should pay extra attention to discussion board assignments and any opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions. Students can reach out to their classmates during class discussion when they agree with another student’s point of view or if they find their perspective interesting. Small interactions can often have big—and unexpected—impacts.

2. Join Extracurriculars

In addition to bolstering college transcripts, participating in extracurricular activities is a fantastic way to form student connections and become part of the school community while exploring their personal interests.  

Participating in extracurricular activities, such as creating art or competing in esports, has been a proven way for students to improve current friendships and build new ones. Finding peers with shared interests helps students feel like they belong and build a positive school culture and can help students see school as a safe space where they belong

3. Get Involved with the School Community as a Family

A 2019 study by the American Psychology Association found a positive link between parental involvement in education and students’ school engagement. Parents and Learning Coaches can get involved in their student’s school by attending events and volunteering to build their own social networks within the school community, as well as by forging connections with school personnel and other online school families in the area.  

Many online schools have virtual groups, such as a Facebook Community page, where parents can connect virtually. In these groups, parents, Learning Coaches, and community coordinators can discuss upcoming events, share their experiences and tips, and plan volunteer initiatives.

4. Find Small Ways to Celebrate their School Every Day

Students can showcase their school spirit in small ways every day, such as by wearing the school colors or by getting a shirt from the school store. If your school does not have a school store, your student can still show off their school spirit. If they like crafts, perhaps encourage them to make their own school shirt and wear it to celebrate important days like the end of the semester or to commemorate the 100th day of school. If T-shirts aren’t their thing, maybe they could decorate their notebook or make their own digital yearbook throughout the year to look back on.  

Other students may benefit more from gratitude exercises so they can explore why they are proud to be an online school student. Taking time to reflect on what they like about being an online school student and the things they enjoy learning about will not only help your student feel more content but also better understand how their school life shapes who they are.    

By celebrating being an online school student through small, everyday actions like these, students won’t need to wait for a pre-planned event or make long-term commitments to feel connected to their school. They can feel more empowered to discover their own place within their school and take pride in how they choose to fit into the broader school community. 

A team of online school students forming student connects by playing basketball together.

How Connections Academy Encourages School Spirit

Connections Academy-supported schools have many opportunities for students to forge meaningful relationships with their peers and their sense of school spirit, whether through clubs, in-person meet-ups, online learning activities, and even the school store.

Would Your Student Thrive at Connections Academy?

We’d love to welcome them into our spirited school community. Download our free eGuide to learn more about Connections Academy and see if online school is the right fit for your family.  

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