There are many reasons why students and family opt to switch out of a traditional public school to an online school. Whether students are struggling academically, facing emotional distress in a traditional school setting, or the scheduling in public school simply doesn’t work for the family, there are other options for families. Online schools offer greater independence with no sacrifice in the quality of education and accreditation standards. To ensure that your student’s transition from public school to an online school, it is a good idea to follow certain tips to prepare your child for the new environment and learning structure.
1. Prepare for the Independence
One of the biggest differences of an online school compared to a classroom is the independence it offers. There’s no bell telling students when to switch classrooms or teachers controlling every moment of the day. Students can start when it works for them, take breaks as needed to benefit their mental focus, and have lunch when their body tells them too and not when a school schedule says to do so.
However, some students and parents struggle with this independence. It is important to support your student and help them find a daily schedule that works best for them. Without guidance, assistance, and support, students can lose focus too easily and actually fall behind in their educational goals and progress.
2. Understand Your Options
As you look to move your child out of a public education system to an online school, it is important to do your research. Even among online schools, there are a lot of different options, and it is a must to pick the one that works best for you. Some online schools lean on parents to control the curriculum and guide their child’s educational journey. Other schools remove parents from the equation by separating the student experience from the parent experience. In these situations, parents remain involved in the process, but teachers work with the students on a daily basis to guide their educational journey.
Don’t forget one of the most important factors in your research: accreditation. If you want your student’s credits to count when it comes time for college, you must select an online school program that is accredited.
3. Maintain Family Support
Some students find that the independence of online schooling results in isolation. Students may succeed academically with online schooling, but they still need a support network. Transitioning to an online school results in a loss of classmates to interact with regularly and, in some cases, irregular face-to-face contact with a teacher. As such, make sure that you, as a parent, are involved in your student’s learning. Be there to support them, check in with them on a regular basis, and even encourage siblings to talk with your student about their daily education.
4. Make Sure Your Child Stays Socially Involved
On a similar note, it is important to ensure that your student still maintains their social connections when switching to an online school. Your child has spent years forming bonds with classmates and even teammates in school settings. Just because your student is now learning at home doesn’t mean that those friendships should be allowed to fade away. You have the flexibility to control your student’s schedule, so make sure there is time built into their educational schedule and the family schedule for your child to remain engaged socially with friends and physically active on any sports teams or other activities.
5. Set a Schedule that Meets Family Needs
In some cases, families may opt to transition a child out of public school to online schooling to better align with the family schedule. For example, families in which one parent is gone for extended periods due to work, might find it useful to get more family time back by changing to an online school. Traditional school schedules are set by district administrators, with tardy and absence demerits potentially hurting a child’s standing in the school.
As you transition your student to an online school, make sure to take advantage of the flexibility of scheduling. Work with the teachers and administrators of your child’s online school to find out how much flexibility you have in the matter. When you know that better, set a daily routine for your child to follow that works for him/her and works for the family at large. When you have downtime, take advantage to build on family unity with that extra time.
On a final note that you can consider a bonus tip: take advantage of homeschooling communities. There are social communities out there are Facebook and other outlets that allow families with homeschooled and online schooled children to connect. You can use these resources to learn what has and has not worked for other families in your situation and even find new families to socialize with or kids for your children.