In recent months, even years, online learning has become a vital part of how kids receive their education. If you’re a parent educating their children at home, then you may wonder if outsourcing your child’s education with online courses is a good idea and how to make it effective. We’ve gathered some practical suggestions for smoothly integrating online learning into your child’s school routine and how to get the most out of it.
How can I make my child’s online learning effective?
This is the question that just about every homeschooling parent asks themselves. They’ve already decided to include virtual courses and/or classes as part of their child’s education; however, they aren’t quite sure what it will look like. Please know that this is a valid concern and the tips below will help you feel more confident and at ease about your decision to go this route.
Talk to your child about this form of learning.
Sometimes we assume that just because kids can easily pick up on all things online related that they’ll also be just as quick and excited to learn online. On the contrary, online platforms for virtual learning can be quite different and somewhat intimidating to children in the beginning. To help ease some of the shock consider having several conversations with your child.
Discuss that learning online will be part of their homeschooling for a particular subject as well as for a specific amount of time. Failure to let your child know as many details as possible can hinder their comfortability about doing it.
If it will be your child’s first time using the online platform for learning, take time to show them what it looks like, how to login, and so on. Help them become familiar with navigating any student portals, how to use the headset, microphone, mute button, and any other classroom functions.
Clearly communicate expectations.
In most cases, teachers will have their own set of expectations. Some will require students to keep their microphones muted while others may want children to type answers into a chat box. Make sure you’re familiar with what the teacher expects and relay those messages to your child.
In the same manner, you as the parent can set expectations of your own. If your child is old enough for independent learning, then you can set some expectations such as:
- Logging into class on time (or 5 minutes early).
- Having all class materials gathered before class begins.
- Be ready to participate in class as needed.
- Staying focused and having good online classroom behavior.
These are just a few ideas and could certainly be tweaked to accommodate your child’s age and grade.
Make a schedule and develop a routine for online learning.
Before enrolling your child in online classes, look at your family’s schedule and choose the best time for them to take virtual courses/classes. This will help you prevent from overbooking yourself or your children. Instead, pick an available day and time and fill that block accordingly. Once you have your child’s courses scheduled, then create a routine to go with it.
Depending on your child, a routine can comprise of:
- Assisting your child with getting set up for the class.
- Standing by to provide support throughout the class.
- Helping your child log out of the class.
- Time set aside to complete any tasks, homework, activities, etc.
Overall, being intentional about a schedule and routine will help your days run smoothly and effectively.
Set up a learning space for your child.
You don’t have to convert an entire room to this. Just a small space like the dining room table or a table in their bedroom will do. What’s most important is to remove any distractions and clutter from the area. This will help them stay focused on what they’re doing and not be tempted to play or fidget with things around them. It’s also a good idea to turn off any TVs, radios, games, cell phones, etc.
If this space will become a designated area for your child’s online learning, consider keeping it well stocked with any school supplies they’ll need for class – paper, pencils, headphones, and course materials (books, workbooks, etc.).
Incorporate a calendar and color-code system.
Learning online is much different than meeting at a physical place. But just like in-person learning, there may be deadlines for assignments, projects, tests, and so on. To help your child stay on top of what’s needed, incorporate a calendar and color-code system. Some children do better by having the calendar on the wall where they can see, while some prefer digital ones.
Regardless of what you choose, use a color-code system to help them remember when they have class, what assignments are due, projects to complete, and the like. This system can also be used to help your child learn time management. If they know there is a project due in 2 weeks, help them learn how to work from the due date and intentionally plan days and times to work on it.
Pay attention to any concerns your child may have.
Children may not always be able to clearly communicate when there is an issue with their online learning. Routinely check in with them and ask how things are going or if there is anything they need help with. Pay attention to any signs of stress, anxiety, or being overwhelmed. In some cases, online learning may not be the best fit. In the event this happens, don’t be quick to ward off online learning completely; instead, see if it’s subject-related or some other factor (age, development level, etc.).
Set goals and a reward system.
Together with your child, create a set of goals that will help them see online learning in a positive light. On the other hand, also include them in establishing a goal system. For example, for every three online classes attended with good behavior, your child can get an ice cream cone. Other goals can be work completed on time, good grades on tests, finished projects, etc.
To make online learning most effective, always keep your child’s interests in mind, and don’t hesitate to make adjustments when needed.