Welcome Aboard: The Online Learning Coach Journey

Mother watches over son while he writes in a notebook

Online learning, especially at a virtual public school, gives parents the opportunity to take part in their child’s education. Here, at Connections Academy®, we call this trusted adult a Learning Coach, and they work with our state-certified teachers to support their student through their schoolwork. But how do you get started being a virtual Learning Coach? 

Preparing to become a virtual school Learning Coach is similar to preparing for a trip; before traveling, most people spend a few days or weeks organizing what they need to pack and may even buy a few things for the journey. As the new year of virtual school approaches, you may feel like you and your family are headed to a new destination. It can be daunting at first, but to help make this new, educational adventure a success, we’ve compiled a brief guide of suggestions to help you succeed in your journey as an online K–12 Learning Coach.  

Bon voyage! 

10 Steps for a Successful Learning Coach Journey

1. Become a good travel guide.

Before you and your child take off on your education journey together, you will need to understand what’s ahead in your role as a Learning Coach. Typically, a Learning Coach helps structure the online learning day, provides support and encouragement, and makes sure the student stays on track to complete assigned schoolwork. Communicating with the student’s teachers is also an important part of the role. 
You’re not expected to be a mathematician or historian to help your student learn. Your child’s teachers have the content expertise and will be providing live homeschool teaching and grading. As a Learning Coach, you serve as a guide to help facilitate the student’s scheduling, improve your student’s study habits, and keep your student on the road to success.  
A parent researching how to be a better virtual Learning Coach.

2. Chart your homeschool teaching course.

At the beginning of the school year, you and your child’s teachers will be setting some goals for your child’s education. Tell your student what you expect from them and keep those goals in mind throughout the year. Remember that personalizing your student’s online learning plan is an ongoing process. So be sure to circle back with your student’s teachers and adjust goals and expectations as needed.  

3. Book a room.

Create a kid-friendly learning space and make sure it has all the necessary supplies and books to help your student thrive in online school. Having the right tools and encouragement will help your student become a self-motivated, autonomous online learner.  

4. Check your bags.

Gather information about your child’s comprehension level, and share any of your concerns with their teachers to better personalize your student’s learning materials. By taking the time for comprehension checks along the way, you can keep track of how far your student has come.   
A K–12 Learning Coach homeschool teaching his children.

5. Set your itinerary.

Create and post a daily schedule that includes lunch and exercise breaks somewhere easy for your child to see. In addition to studies, it’s important that brain breaks and physical education (PE) are part of your student’s day! PE can be whatever motivates your student, whether it’s bike riding, hiking, or martial arts. Create ways to keep your student focused and motivated to learn.  

6. Keep moving ahead.

Combat difficult academic challenges with creative motivation strategies that keep your student excited about online learning. Find special activities that motivate your child to learn, and consider setting up a reward system for reaching milestones along the way.  

7.  Stay on course.

We are all guilty of a little procrastination every now and then. But when it happens regularly, it presents a real challenge. Here’s an emergency motivation plan to help you remove roadblocks if your student keeps putting things off. Here are some tips for countering perfectionism, in case that’s what’s slowing your child down.  
A Learning Coach helping her virtual school student stay on track.

8. Leave positive reviews!

Be attentive and nurturing and give your child praise and positive reinforcement, even for small accomplishments. Younger students can celebrate their strengths with something as simple as positive refrigerator magnets. Older students might like to keep a journal to remind them of wins and milestones in their journey.   

9. Communicate with your captain.

Remember that Connections Academy teachers are there to support you. Email messages and phone calls help teachers know which students need assistance, so get in touch with them as often as you’d like!  

10. Focus on the big picture of homeschool teaching.

Remind yourself of the reasons you’ve chosen online school for your destination and why it’s important to your family. When the going gets tough, remember that persistence, dedication, and adaptability are the keys to becoming the best Learning Coach you can be.  

You Are Not Traveling Alone!

Reach out and get to know the locals during your journey. You have the support of the faculty at your online school, assistance from tech support if you have computer problems, and the support from other homeschooling families you’ll meet along the way. 

Check out more tips and tricks for online school parents—and enjoy the ride!  

Editor's Note: Learning Coach tasks may vary by state. 

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