Tips For Online Public School Success

Help your child or teen get a great online school start. Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

 Changing schools is never easy.  That is simply because change itself is never easy.  The way to ease the transition is to be prepared, for obstacles and surprises that come with the new change.  If your child is switching into online public school from a traditional brick and mortar school you are facing some changes that didn't exist back when you were in k-12 school.  

If you took online or distance education classes in your college years you should be able to relate to your child's experience.

 Online k-12 differs from online college because of the age and development of the student.  A college age student must create the habits and skills by themselves in order to be successful, while a school age child or teen will need parental support for online school to be successful.  Here are some tips and pointers to make the change from traditional classroom to virtual online school successful.

1 Get Really Familiar With Your Online School Program Fast

Learn as much as possible about the online school environment right away.  Find out where you, the parent, will monitor your child's work, progress and grades.  Make sure that you know exactly how your child is supposed to log in, how to access assignments and lecture materials, when and if group chats are live session lessons are given and how to submit assignments.

2 Know Where To Get Help Before You Need It

Your child, or you, will end up needing some help figuring out this new system.

 Be ready by knowing exactly who to contact before you run into trouble.  You may even want to keep a hardcopy list of who to contact for different types of problems.

3 Get A Longterm Schedule Plan

Know when your child will be completing individual lessons and subject units over the course of the semester or school year.

 Brick and mortar classroom teachers usually have an idea of what they plan teach each week of the school year - and their plan is completed before the school year starts.  This way they can pace the learning, and anticipate for different school breaks.

4 Create A Daily Routine

This is key to making sure that work actually gets done.  Without the push to arrive at a brick and mortar school on time, it can be easy to thinking that your child can get the work done "later."  Establishing a daily routine will create the regular habit where online school work gets done, consistently, over time.  No last minute rushes or procrastination!  

5 Have A Defined Workspace - A Homework Corner

Another trick to keeping yoru child or teen productive and developing good work habits is to have a space set aside for school work.  When your kid sits down in this area, they will be sitting there to work, triggering a habitual response to get their work completed.

6 Plan For Eliminating Distractions

What will you or your child do when the phone rings?

 What about when neighbor kids come to the door - and yoru child, who is on a different schedule, needs to do their school work.  Oh, and don't forget the draw of social media sites and e-mail, which can be major distraction to anyone who works online.  

Accept that distractions will happen.  Just have a plan in place so that you know how you will respond.  Will you ignore the phone or take a message?  Will you be ready to tell your child they can play with the neighbor kids when their work is completed, or have your child make a plan to get the work done at another time?  If your child struggles with online distractions, their are productivity apps available that block users from accessing their email or social media accounts for certain time periods.

7 Make Backing Up School Work a Habit

It is work in a computer environment.  A blip in your wi-fi, a brownout, site glitches and a whole variety of other possibilities mean that your child could lose hours worth of work in seconds.  Make sure they get in the habit of saving their work someplace other than the online school environment.  A thumb drive or sd card can be good options for this.

8 Work Ahead Whenever Possible

Scheduling flexibility is one of the big draws for families to online schools.  Getting to decide when your kid completes school can give families the option of deciding when to start their days, how many days a week to work, and more.  Just remember that there will probably be some unanticipated days off.  This could be the result of days lost to technical problems, weather issues, or child illness.  To avoid ever getting behind and then having to play catch up, get ahead whenever you can. Working a little ahead is like insurance for when things go awry.  Another plus is finsihing early if there are no issues.

9 Don't Wait For Assignment Feedback, Keep Doing Work

It can take a few days or longer for a teacher to grade and return an assignment.  During that time, your kid should continue working on their assignments.  A common misconception when kids or adults begin online school is that the student should wait and see how they did on an assignment before completing the next assignment.  It may seem a little unsettling to continue working without getting any feedback telling the student if they are completing their work correctly, but it is the nature of online school to do so.  

Waiting for returned assignments is lost time to continue working.  

10 Be The Online School Chatterbox

Does your teen's online class have a forum for students to discuss the school assignments?  Are there live chat sessions where the teacher answers questions and provides a brief lecture?  Have yoru child use these means of communication for their school work as much as possible!  The communication reinforces the material they are learning.  

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