5 Solutions to Overcoming Common Challenges When Switching to Online School

6 min to read
Online student working on their laptop

Getting a quality education means more than simply attending a school with a prestigious name. Students need teachers invested in their well-being and learning, robust social opportunities, and an encouraging environment. Luckily for parents, there are now choices that go beyond their local school districts. For example, online schools offer students increased flexibility, unique growth opportunities, and a personalized education.

Many families have made the switch to online learning and embraced the benefits, watching their children blossom as independent learners. But the transition to virtual schooling is easier if parents understand the common challenges children might face when making the switch. The good news is that online schools like Connections Academy® can offer solutions to help your child flourish while learning at home.

If your child is facing online school challenges, here are five solutions to assist them with becoming better adjusted! 

1. Flexible Daily Schedules

In traditional schools, students have a set daily routine. They are expected to arrive at school on time, complete schoolwork while in class, and conclude learning when the bell rings. Although there are often no other scheduling options outside of that set structure in traditional schools, online school offers endless opportunities for flexibility.

At Connections Academy, students choose their own schedules with the help of their Learning Coach. While parents have little to no input in a traditional school’s daily schedule, Connections Academy families can arrange their online student’s schedule to fit personal interests, learning preferences, and family needs.

For example, some learners benefit from flex time where they take 15-minute breaks to reset before beginning their next lesson. Incorporating these types of brain breaks into the school day helps students focus and avoid overload.

Alternatively, Learning Coaches could create a block schedule where students stay focused on one topic for a longer time span. With a block schedule, online learners complete multiple lessons for one course all at once, allowing them to learn in a way that’s beneficial to them.

Small adjustments like schedule alterations can make all the difference in improving your child’s ability to achieve academic success. Through flexible scheduling, families and students enjoy the freedom of online learning without needing to worry if lack of traditional structure will impact their education.

2. Socialization

Just like daily schedules, socialization is an important aspect of an impactful school experience, so, it only makes sense that it is one of the main challenges of learning in an online environment. When switching to online school, students might miss seeing their friends in the hallway or having the same classes as their peers; however, that doesn’t mean that a social life is non-existent.

At Connections Academy®, socialization is embedded into our curriculum’s design. We understand that students are learning from different locations and that each child has unique social needs. To make it clear that we consider every type of student, we offer a community with a variety of opportunities for learners to come together online and in person.

One of the main ways we help build community and foster socialization is through after-school clubs. Clubs give students the opportunity to bond with their peers, build connections outside of the classroom, and explore their interests. Let’s say your child is a new online student and loves to draw in their spare time. As their Learning Coach, you could encourage them to join the Art Club. Through this group, students are encouraged to explore art, photography, and graphic design. They also create original designs and artwork along with their peers, where they provide feedback to one another and learn about appropriate critique guidelines. Not only do clubs at Connections Academy cultivate an environment where students connect with others, they also provide enrichment opportunities for students to grow as individuals.

An online student on a field trip, looking at still water in a jar

3. Teacher-Student Interaction

Strong relationships with teachers can dramatically enhance students' level of motivation and academic engagement. Some families might worry that students won’t receive individual attention while attending virtual school. But, teacher-student interactions are a priority at Connections Academy. Students communicate with teachers regularly and can connect with them at any time throughout the day. During instruction, teachers are available through microphone and chat where they encourage online students to question challenging concepts and become active learners. The online class format allows teachers and learners to become acquainted on a personal level, which in turn helps develop meaningful relationships.

To further build positive teacher-student interactions, you can connect your child to their teacher outside of class. That could be anything from emailing a homework question to brainstorming ideas for a group project.

At Connections Academy, parents can also facilitate how often they interact with their children’s instructors. In traditional schools, working parents might only communicate with teachers during open house nights. However, as a Learning Coach, you can have regular meetings with your child’s teacher to track their progress and address any challenges they might be experiencing. In addition, instructors reach out frequently to discuss how they can help with their future college and career goals.

Even in a virtual setting, teachers are available for your family to offer plenty of support, guidance, and encouragement.

4. Motivation to Learn

If your student isn’t accustomed to learning at home, a potential hurdle for them could be staying on task. When students are engaged, they are more focused and motivated to take ownership of their education. Therefore, compelling lessons should be the center of any online school’s strategy.

Connections Academy lessons speak to each student in ways that ignite their curiosity and enhance critical thinking. Lessons are built to motivate online students to explore the world around them, helping set them up for success in online school and beyond. If you’re curious yourself, sample lesson plans are available that show how our instructors help online learners build real-world skills.

Teachers also help keep students motivated in the virtual classroom through other methods. One way is through planning shorter lessons that help students stay focused. Another way is presenting content in creative and interactive formats. Connections Academy instructors catch online learners’ attention by utilizing features in LiveLesson® sessions like polls, chat features, and virtual field trips. Teachers can even turn lessons into games by awarding students points for class participation.

A student watching an instructor teach virtually on a laptop computer

5. Lesson Comprehension

Similar to daily schedules, most brick-and-mortar schools develop one lesson plan for all students. However, each student learns differently. And we believe that their needs and strengths should be considered when designing coursework. Thankfully, the online model at Connections Academy provides us with flexibility to tailor individual learning plans.

For example, if your middle school student is a visual learner, their teacher could encourage additional one-on-one lessons where the student grasps the concept of geography through studying a map. Or, teachers could also task them with building a graph to study percentages. This way, lessons are crafted to meet your student’s learning preferences.

In addition, students can attend LiveTutor sessions where teachers coach them through core subjects like math and science. As with coaching classes in traditional schools, tutoring helps students overcome learning obstacles and builds confidence. When students receive the resources they need, it enables them to excel in school and beyond.

If your family is ready to make the switch to virtual learning, check out this article on the differences between online and traditional school and this student reflection on switching to virtual school, which covers some of the challenges students face in high school and how they’ve overcome them.

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