Virtual Learning and Working Parents: 5 Tips to Make It Work

5 min to read
Mom helps elementary school son with school work while toddler sits on her lap

Virtual school offers many benefits for K–12 students, including flexible scheduling, personalized learning, and a safe learning environment. For working parents, those benefits may seem out of reach for their students as they worry about balancing job responsibilities with online school. How do working parents manage virtual school?  

Don’t worry—you’ve got this! Finding success in online school requires balance, patience, and commitment for all types of families. And while each family has to find what works for them, with a little flexibility, working parents can reap all of the benefits of virtual school. 

The first step is to understand how virtual school works and the role parents play in supporting online learning.  

What Is a Learning Coach?

A crucial role at Connections Academy® is the Learning Coach, who is a parent or caretaker that builds the weekly school schedule, tracks attendance, communicates with teachers, and supports their student while they complete their schoolwork. 

As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. You know them best and understand what works and what doesn’t to keep them motivated and engaged with learning. Whatever your situation is, you may be wondering how parents can help with online learning and maintain their role as mentor and educational coach while balancing all of their other obligations—including a full-time job.  

If it sounds like it may be too much as you think about balancing those tasks with your work responsibilities, Connections Academy staff and teachers—along with our community of parents—offer many tips, tricks, tools, and support to help you find success as a Learning Coach no matter how busy your schedule is.  

A working parent helping her children with their virtual school assignments.

How to Balance Working and Supporting a Student in Online School

One thing that helps working parents is to have more than one designated Learning Coach to help spread out the tasks. Your partner or another trusted adult can help with lessons and assignments to keep your student on track while you are working, and you handle some of the administrative tasks when you aren’t working. Many parents with different work schedules find success with this arrangement, where one designated Learning Coach spends time with their student in the morning and the other in the afternoon.  

If you can’t swing this type of arrangement, there are still ways working parents can manage online school by getting a little creative. Here are five ideas for virtual school at home for working parents: 

1. Take Advantage of Online School’s Flexible Scheduling.

Plan your child’s learning schedule around your work schedule. Make sure the activities that require the most support and input from you are done during the times you’re available to help your student. Designate your working hours for independent reading and subjects your child has an easier time digesting. 

2. Keep Your Child Focused with To-Do Lists.

Without a clearly defined list of things to accomplish, your child has a higher likelihood of becoming distracted or straying from their schoolwork. Leave clear instructions for your child for the times you are out of the house, and make sure they complete their assignments and any other tasks on the to-do list as required to meet school deadlines. Hint: This is also a great idea for any household chores you would like your child to do while you are at work!  

3. Make Use of Planning Tools.

Online schools help working parents manage school assignments with planning tools that can integrate your family’s calendar, your work schedule, and your student’s virtual class and lesson scheduler. Have your child learn how to manage the planner early in the school year. This way, your child will become an independent learner and never miss scheduled online classroom sessions or their teachers’ virtual office hours. 

4. Stay Flexible and Make Adjustments.

There may be times when your child isn’t able to complete their online lessons without your support, and that is OK! Online school’s flexible pacing helps students spend more time on the lessons where they may need extra support. Set aside another time to work on that assignment and encourage your child to continue working on the things that come more easily when you are not available. For full-time working parents, evenings and weekends are usually the best times for being a hands-on Learning Coach. Online school assignments can be submitted at any hour of the day or night! 

Remember to plan ahead to take time off from work for things like school social activities and field trips that would benefit your student and help them socialize with their classmates. Also plan to be available for any required state testing.  

A working parent taking time off to go on a hiking field trip.

5. Take Advantage of Teachers and Peers.

One of the advantages of many virtual schools is that certified teachers can spend more time working one-on-one with you and your child to develop an individualized learning plan and provide extra assistance with scheduling to help working parents manage school. Take advantage of this resource and encourage your child to contact their teacher if they need extra help. This will also help your child form a strong bond with their teacher and learn the important skill of asking for help when they need it.  

School discussion boards, real-time classroom conversations, and email communications are also good ways your child can interact with other students. If you aren’t there to help, encourage your child to use these methods when trying to solve a problem or complete a tricky assignment. 

Virtual Learning Can Work for Working Parents

The shared goal between parents and virtual schools is to help children achieve success on their learning journey while having a great online school experience. By working through scheduling issues together, parents can take an active role in their child’s learning while balancing work obligations. 

Working parents thinking about online school are encouraged to give it a try! Learn more about virtual school and see if it is right for you and your family by attending a Connections Academy information session. You are sure to find one that fits around your work schedule. 

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