Today, most classrooms have some level of blended learning, and almost all students will take at least one online course throughout their education. When we think of online courses, we usually think of college programs. Some students, however, begin their education with online school as young as kindergarten.
Online school is often thought of as a middle ground between homeschool and traditional classrooms. Like homeschooling, K-12 online school provides numerous benefits for parents and students alike. Because of this, and due to the effects of teacher shortage on students, an increasing number of parents have decided to transfer their students from the brick-and-mortar classroom to online school. If you have decided that online school is the right fit for your elementary student, the following tips will help you and your student be successful.
Establish a Routine
Routines are important for children, but online students have much more flexibility. Depending on the program, students may take part in live classroom lectures or video instruction. The structure of the online program will help determine how much liberty you have over your child’s routine. Some online schools are student-paced, while others have due dates for assignments, and students are expected to turn things in to the teacher by this date.
If schedule flexibility is important to you and your student, a student-paced online school will probably be a better fit for you. As a parent, you should still establish a routine. For example, you may have your student “attend” class from 8:00 to 12:30 with several short breaks. This gives your student the afternoon to explore other activities, such as field trips, educational programs at museums, and volunteering. You can also have your student start later in the day or take longer breaks if needed.
Set Academic Goals for Your Student
Online schools usually provide various parent resources. Some of which will allow you to track your student’s progress and set academic goals for them. Other programs may have your student work with a teacher to establish these goals. No matter what method you choose, establishing academic goals will help your student stay focused and on track with their peers in traditional schools.
When your student sets academic goals for themselves, they begin to develop a sense of accountability. For this reason, your student will become more independent about their education and develop other lifelong skills, such as organization, accountability, and a good work ethic.
One reason that many parents choose online school for their students is that too many distractions in a traditional classroom prevent them from paying attention and learning material. However, online school means that your student will be learning at home, and there can be just as many distractions if not more.
Be sure to set aside a comfortable place in the home for your student to attend class and complete assignments. A comfortable chair, plenty of natural light, and mild temperatures will provide the best atmosphere for learning. Minimize distractions by ensuring the space is quiet and free of a television or radio. If your student learns in their room, make sure it is free of clutter, and that they have a desk that is comfortable to sit at for several hours each day. Frequent short breaks to have a snack or complete a chore will help your student remain focused on the material.
Schedule Play Dates
Online students do not have the same level of peer interaction as elementary students in public or private schools. For this reason, it is your responsibility as a parent to ensure they are getting an appropriate amount of socialization. Although they may be able to see their classmates in an online lecture, joining clubs or participating in local programs are great ways for students to meet peers and make friends. Your student can also meet friends through sports teams, group music lessons, scouts, or clubs.
Many homeschool support groups and co-ops are open to online students, as well. This allows them to meet other students and participate in group learning. These groups often go on field trips and organize extracurriculars, as well.
Online school is different than homeschooling because there is less involvement from the parent. With online schooling, your main role is one of support and encouragement. Elementary students are still very impressionable, so you must have a positive attitude around education that they can mimic. Positivity is the most beneficial thing that will help your student be successful with online school.
Celebrating when your student hits their goals or passes benchmarks is a great motivator for students. For example, you can go out for ice cream or go on a field trip when they complete a grade, unit, or difficult lesson.