Support My Child
Supporting your student Online
- Build a Schedule
Traditional school days provide students with a lot of structure—this is hard to replicate in online learning days. For some students, the flexibility of learning online is a natural fit. However, for other students, especially young learners, managing this increased autonomy is a challenge. Students participating in online learning need to build their own routines and effectively manage their time in order to stay on track. Having a well-thought-out, specific daily schedule is key, and parents can be a huge help not only in building such a plan but also in making sure that it is followed.
Parents can start by sitting down with their student and intentionally discussing what he or she is responsible for accomplishing in their online course work on a daily or weekly basis, how much time those tasks will realistically take, and what other commitments (sports, arts, work, family engagements, etc.) he or she needs to consider. Bring your child’s teacher(s) into the conversation too—teachers can offer valuable insight into the curriculum, their own expectations, and how much time will need to be budgeted. Once you have talked through everything on your child’s plate, help him or her write out a weekly schedule with designated work time for online courses. Be sure to hang up the schedule in a noticeable place, like on the refrigerator or next to any other family master calendars, to help keep your child accountable and establish an effective routine.
- Model Hard Work and Persistence
Learning online from home removes many of the systems of accountability that students are used to in the traditional classroom—achieving the same level of success will likely take a higher level of intrinsic motivation and self-directed effort. Just like time management skills, this motivation comes more naturally for some students than for others. Regardless, acclimating to online learning platforms, being accustomed to self-pacing and working through the normal, productive struggles of learning more independently can be challenging. Parents and other caregivers can make a big difference simply by demonstrating the ubiquity and importance of these skills in the “real world” beyond school.
Talking to your child about your own work and goals is a great place to start. Tell him or her about difficult projects you are working on, new skills you are trying to master, and challenges you have faced. For instance, do you have a big presentation coming up at work? Tell your child about the extra time you are putting in to prepare. Are you in the process of taking up a new hobby? Take time to sit down with him or her while he or she is working on online coursework to tackle some projects of your own. These do not have to be big talks or perfect examples, but demonstrating your own hard work and motivated attitude will help your child take a similar approach while learning online.
- Set-up a Designated Workspace
The right workspace makes a huge difference in students’ mindset and ability to focus. When participating in online learning, students have the ability to complete their work where they want, so it’s important to put thought into what kind of environment is truly most effective for them and make sure that they have a designated space at home.
Think about your child’s personality and needs as a starting point to create a workspace tailored to him or her, and be sure to have a direct conversation with your child about where and how he or she will be most comfortable completing online coursework. If your child thrives on quiet, make sure that, he or she has a desk and comfortable chair in the room. If he or she needs a little more interaction and hands-on accountability, a desk or table in the living room or kitchen may be a better option. No matter what the workspace looks like, be sure that your child has easy access to the materials and supplies that he or she will need to be efficient, like good headphones; a wireless mouse if he or she will be working on a laptop; and plenty of notepaper, pens, and other office basics.
- Get to Know the Online Learning Platform
Online learning means that students spend their school days immersed in an online program (or maybe several). For parents, taking the time to get familiar with what those platforms looks like, how your child is using them, and what resources are available are some of the best ways you can offer support.
Start by exploring any orientation resources provided by your school or district as well as the online learning platform with your student. Make sure he or she is comfortable navigating the content and activities and completing basic tasks like submitting assignments and checking grades. Be sure to spend time on communication tools available to your child as well, like built-in messaging features, video-conferencing tools, and interactive classroom functionality. Many online learning platforms also offer parent portals—be sure to find and explore any tools like this so that you can monitor your child’s progress. If the platform offers any materials or guides specifically created for parents and caregivers, take the time to read them. Just like at school, the learning ultimately is up to your students, but by familiarizing yourself with the online tools being used, a better grasp on what his or her learning looks like and how you can most effectively provide support will go a long way.
- Stay in Communication with Your Student’s Teachers
Just because students are learning online does not mean they are learning independently! Teachers still play a critical role in online learning—and maintaining open, frequent communication is key to student success. Parents and other caregivers need to take part in this ongoing dialogue to make sure students stay on-pace and get the appropriate help when it is needed.
School or district leadership will likely set some parameters around what communication will look like between students and teachers when the switch to online learning is made. This may be anything from daily live video lessons to once-a-week phone check-ins—many different approaches can be effective. Be sure that you are aware of what the expectations are for your child, and proactively reach out to their instructors as questions or concerns arise. Do not forget to share successes as well! When you see your child reaching goals, making productive changes, or hitting important milestones, tell the teacher about it—it is guaranteed that your child will appreciate the positive feedback coming from multiple angles.
Edmentum Blog. March 23, 2020