When to Be Involved in Your Child's Online Education and When to Give them Independence

6 min to read
Learning Coach and her child engaging in online school together

As a parent, you want the best for your child. In all aspects of life, it can be challenging to know when to provide guidance compared to encouraging independence and allowing your child to figure things out for themself.

Striking the right balance between independence for your student and taking control yourself isn’t always easy, particularly as a parent with a child in an online school. Many learners need support from their Learning Coach to stay on track with assignments, but too much parental involvement can hinder your learner from developing their own independence, which is a critical, long-term life skill. 

Discover how to identify when your child needs your help in school, when they should start becoming more independent, and why it’s important to take an active role in your child’s education.

The Importance of Parental Involvement in Education

In a virtual learning environment, learners have many opportunities to hone their independence. Students must learn to manage deadlines and their task lists and determine when to ask for help. 

Parents can help keep their learners on track by helping them set goals. It’s important to have an adult checking in regularly to keep them focused and on-task, especially for younger students and those with attention disorders.

How to Support Kindergarten through Second-Grade Learners

Younger children tend to require a little more parental involvement in education than older learners. This is completely normal, and the level of involvement you provide now will enable independence in the long term.

Provide Technical Support

Be ready to provide technical support to your child as needed. They’ll need help remembering logins, knowing where to go to begin learning, and ensuring their webcam is aimed correctly. 

As you identify your child’s struggle areas, build systems to increase independence. For example, bookmark websites your child visits daily and collaborate on a sign-in checklist to hang near their learning space.

Help with Their Learning Routine

Young learners shouldn’t be expected to follow their schedule independently. For an early elementary school student, plan to check in throughout the day to help them stay on-task. Remind your child of key times in the day, such as bathroom breaks, times to stretch, or snack time.

Begin encouraging independence by offering small choices. For example, during independent learning time, ask your child if they would like to complete their math or language work first. Remind them that whatever they don’t pick now, they’ll need to do later. Providing small decisions allows your child to take ownership of their learning.

Supporting Third to Fifth Graders

As your learner moves into third grade, they’ll be ready to take on additional responsibility. While parental involvement in education is still important, there will be more opportunities to foster independence at this age.

Check in at the Beginning & End of Each Day

Take 5-10 minutes at the beginning and end of each day to check in with your learner on their tasks for the day, successes, and struggles. While you’ll still be available throughout the day to provide extra support if needed, these check-ins can help your learner become more independent. 

Collaborate on a Physical Schedule

By the second half of elementary school, your learner is ready to own more of their schedule. Collaborate to decide how their day will be divided. You’re in charge of making sure your learner has time for everything they need to do, but you can provide some flexibility and options within reason. 

“Sit down with your child or children and explain that you all need to come up with a schedule together,” shared Connections Academy parent. “When they are part of that discussion and setting the schedule, they will take ownership of it.”  

A Learning Coach and her child developing boundaries when it comes it parental involvement in education. 

Balancing Support for Middle Schoolers

Your middle school learners will be able to handle more independence than younger students. However, you’ll still need to help them occasionally and keep them motivated to continue learning.

Let Them Own Their Schedule & Check-in Weekly

Encourage your child to take greater ownership of their schedule. Let them build a routine that works well for them and check to ensure that it includes everything they need. You may need to remind them about important tasks or chores to complete, but your student should be able to plan out most of their schedule independently.

Fill Gaps with Their Personal Interests

One of the biggest benefits of attending virtual schooling is the opportunity to spend time on extracurricular interests. Encourage your learner to identify their personal interests and collaborate to fill the gaps in their schedule with opportunities to pursue them.

This is a great opportunity for your middle schooler to begin exploring their interests and will build motivation to complete their schoolwork on time.

Know When to Step In

While your middle school learner will be much more independent, parental involvement in education is still critical. During your weekly check-ins, make sure you identify what your learner is excelling in and where they’re falling behind. If you notice that they’re consistently struggling in a specific area, that’s a sign that it may be time for you to step in. 

Best Practices for Supporting High School Students

As your child approaches college age, they should be ready to take on much more responsibility when it comes to their education. There are a few ways you can continue encouraging independence in your high school student while being ready to provide support if needed.

Encourage Your Learner to Set Goals

To build intrinsic motivation, it’s important for your learner to set meaningful, measurable goals. At the beginning of the school year and each quarter or semester, sit down with your learner to identify what milestones they’re going to work toward. Encourage your student to develop goals on their own, then you can collaborate to identify when it will be best for you to check in on their progress.

Know When to Step In

When your child reaches high school, family involvement in education should be much less than it was in earlier years. However, you still need to be an active participant in your child’s learning. Make sure you check in with your child and their teacher regularly to see where they’re at and what they may be struggling with.

Encourage your child to contact your or their teacher when they feel they need extra support. Try not to fret if your student isn’t asking for your help as often as they used to — this is a good sign that you’ve helped build their self-confidence and independence.

If you see your child’s grades dropping below what you typically expect from them or notice that your learner isn’t spending as much time on classes as they normally would, those are key signs you should have a conversation.

How Parents Can Build a Relationship of Trust with Online Educators

You and your child’s teacher are a team. It’s critical to build a relationship of trust early on so you both feel comfortable communicating about potential problems as they arise. Start communicating with your learner’s teacher before any issues arise to ensure you’re all on the same page.

Through Connections Academy, teachers will always be available to answer your questions and discuss your student’s progress. Talk to your child’s teachers to determine their preferred communication methods. Engage consistently, and don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher for help if you’re not sure how to support them effectively.

Virtual learning through Connections Academy provides flexibility for families. Children can take on more responsibilities and maintain ownership over their learning while honing critical life skills like time management, intrinsic motivation, independence, and more.

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