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10 Tips For Parents New To Online Homeschooling

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image attirbutuon flickr user alexandersaprykin

10 Tips For Parents New To Online Homeschooling

contributed by Jennifer Smith

Online Schools can present numerous benefits to students of all ages. For one, it offers them (and their parents) a flexible schedule. It also gives them the opportunity to learn at their own pace, have one-on-one access to credentialed and experienced teachers, and develop coursework that focuses on their own specific interests.

As incredible an option it may be for students, it can also present new challenges to parents who are just starting out. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or stressful process in the least, however. To help make the transition into this new type of education a little easier, we’ve rounded up the top 10 tips for new online homeschool parents.

10 Tips For Parents New To Online Homeschooling

1. Personalize the learning environment for each student as much as possible.

Creating a specific workplace for your child can help them build consistent study habits. Whether students are working on a laptop or desktop, it’s important to have a designated space for learning for them to complete schoolwork.

To start with, make sure they have all the necessary equipment—computer, printer, headphones, calendar, pencils, notebook/sketchpad, etc.—within easy reach. The workspace should be in a quiet, low-traffic area of the house so they can focus on their work undisturbed.

2. Use a schedule–and don’t be afraid to adapt that schedule as necessary.

The flip side to getting your child to build consistent study habits is planning ahead to ensure they know when and what they’ll be learning each day. Build a routine that works best with their habits and energy. For instance, while a nine-year-old might be revving to go in the morning, it might take your teenager a couple extra hours to become fully awake and ready for lessons.

Some children might also have to work around practices or outside lessons. Whatever the case, try to create a regular routine so they know exactly when they should focus on studies.

3. Stay organized!

Online courses allow you to be more hands-off as a parent, but you should still go over their weekly lesson plan to ensure they’re on track or make arrangements if travel or events are planned for the week. Depending on what works for your family, you might want to make it a nightly routine—going over the day’s lessons and upcoming assignments, and making sure everything is ready for the next day—or set aside time at the beginning and end of every week to do the same.

This step can help mitigate any wasted time since your child will be able to get straight to work and allow you to keep better track of how they’re progressing towards mastery with their lessons.

4. Empower students.

Help your child build responsibility and accountability for their education by including them in their lesson and curriculum planning. Give them a planner or find a helpful learning app so that as you take time to organize the day or week ahead, they can do the same. Ask them to create daily to-do lists and make them track their own assignments. This takes some of the stress off you and also encourages them to take control of their education and time.

5. Mix things up.

Vary the routine, learning forms, schedules, content, pacing, collaborations–do what you have to do to help keep the learning fresh and authentic.

Being aware of what’s coming up with your student’s lessons gives you the opportunity to mix things up and keep things interesting. Integrating field trips to local museums and wildlife refuges, projects completed away from the computer, and physical activities will keep them engaged and help them to apply the information they’re learning. For instance, a module on ancient Egypt can be complemented with a visit to the King Tut Exhibit, and a successful French lesson can be rewarded with crepes or macarons.

In the end, your child’s education is what you make it, so don’t be afraid to have some fun with it.

6. Set goals for and with students.

Setting measurable and specific educational goals will keep both you and your child on track throughout the school year. Make a list and divide it into short- and long-term goals, then revisit the list on a regular basis—during your weekly organizational sessions, for instance—to evaluate and adjust the goals if necessary.

7. Personalize the content and process.

With online homeschooling, your child can learn at their own pace—taking more time in a subject when necessary or speeding through another if they quickly grasp the material. This type of learning environment also allows you and your child to choose instructional programs that fit their interests. Some online charter schools will even allow you to customize or create a course that focuses on your student’s passions. Personalizing your child’s education keeps them engaged with, and excited about, learning.

8. Ask for help.

If you’re not sure about how to build a learning plan or set goals for your child, that’s okay. Many schools, such as CalPac, which is a network of online charter schools, have highly-trained teachers and counselors to help parents design a program that is personalized to their student while still meeting state standards.

Teachers like these, as well as other homeschool parents, can bring a different perspective and insights on how to help your child learn. When you’re stuck on a situation or aren’t sure about how to approach a specific lesson, ask for help; you’re not in this homeschool journey alone.

9. Socialize the learning.

Online schooling doesn’t have to be an isolated effort. Find ways to help your child socialize throughout the week. If they’re involved with volunteer groups, sports teams, or other types of groups, they’ll inevitably be building social skills. Field trips, days working out of a café, traveling, and study groups are also ways to help them interact and connect with their community.

10. Accept imperfections.

Before embarking on this journey, jot down all the reasons you’ve decided to give homeschooling a try. Some days might be more difficult than others but going back to this list will help you to stay the course. No adventure in online schooling is going to be perfect, so give yourself a break now when things don’t turn out as planned; they don’t go perfectly in ‘regular’ school either. 

What’s important is that you’re actively trying to give your child a better education. Exhausting (and at times, perhaps frustrating) days will come, but so will the delight in seeing your child engage with their lessons and find their passion for learning.

10 Tips For Parents New To Online Schooling

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