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5 Tips for Virtual School Success

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Education is one of Alyssa's top priorities. She has one son who has been enrolled in Ohio Connections Academy for eight years.

Read on to learn 5 tips to help ensure your child's success in virtual school.

Read on to learn 5 tips to help ensure your child's success in virtual school.

It's hard to believe that kids are heading back to school already. Wasn't it just the beginning of summer break? This is how I feel every August, but my family's back-to-school routine looks slightly different.

My son has attended school virtually at Ohio Connections Academy since 2013 when he first entered kindergarten. Over the years, I've perfected our schedule to make our transition as seamless and trouble-free as possible.

This year my son will be entering eighth grade (virtually), and he'll be taking four high school courses. It's bittersweet because while I'm excited for him, I'm also a little sad that he's growing up so quickly.

Things are looking a little different for us this year as well. For one, we don't need to shop for school supplies. I'm upset about this because school supply shopping is one of my favorite things and something I look forward to all summer.

However, this is not a reminiscing article. Instead, I'm going to share my top five tips for virtual school success. 2020 could be described with many adjectives, but I think everyone in the United States, and many others worldwide, switched to online learning. This was a shock, to say the least.

Some thrived and really loved it; others were not big fans and couldn't wait to get back into the classroom. While many kids will be heading back to traditional brick-and-mortar schools, more kids than ever before will be signing on for another year of virtual school.

Below I've outlined the five reasons why virtual learning has been a success for my son. These are practical tips that anyone can use to ensure that their kids have a productive, successful school year. Here they are in brief:

  1. Make organization a priority
  2. Adopt a clear routine and schedule
  3. Set clear expectations and rules
  4. Have a plan for destressing
  5. Work on communication

1. Make Organization a Priority

Organization is vital when it comes to virtual school. Have a quiet area where your children can get their school work done. It's helpful also to have all supplies nearby as well. If possible, dedicate a specific spot in your home as the school area.

Our den has been transformed into the schoolroom in our house. I have a large whiteboard on one wall where my son can do math problems and write reminders. I have two smaller ones on another wall for notes and important dates.

There's a desk where he can keep his books and pencils and a larger desk for his computer. This is also where our modem and router live, so he can directly connect his school laptop to the internet.

In addition, I have a three-drawer organizer and a four-drawer organizer to keep notebooks, loose-leaf paper, and other supplies neat and easily accessible. This is just an example, though. I encourage you to find a system that works for your children. Some kids love to work at the dining room table, others from the comfort of the couch or their bed.

Additionally, it's important to keep up to date with deadlines. At Connections, my son and I both have access to the entire semester's worth of lessons for each subject. He keeps track of upcoming quizzes and tests while I check on larger project requirements, making sure we have everything on hand he'll need. We'll mark on the calendar and whiteboard any important dates, such as phone calls with teachers and times for live lessons.

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Staying organized will help the school year move more smoothly.


2. Adopt a Clear Routine and Schedule

The routine and schedule you set will largely depend on which school your children attend. Know what's required and base yours on that.

Let me give you an example of how we structure our daily routine and school schedule. Fortunately, Connections Academy offers a lot of flexibility and allows me to set my son's school schedule around my husband's work schedule. My son attends school Thursday through Monday, taking Tuesday and Wednesday as his days off. He likes to start early, so by 7 am, he's logged in and working on his lessons.

In Ohio, live lessons are not mandatory, but my son loves them, and I encourage him to attend as many as he can. If he misses one, he can easily go back and watch the recording. Unless he has a live lesson, he's done with his school day by 1 pm. My son doesn't take too many breaks; he would rather get his work done so that he can move on to doing the activities he enjoys. He eats breakfast and has a snack while he's working.

If your children attend a school that allows for flexibility, don't be afraid to take advantage of that. Set school hours that work best for your children and your family. Some kids work better starting the school day mid-morning or in the afternoon. Just be sure that they are getting their work done, attending live classes as required, staying in contact with their teachers, and are meeting the weekly attendance requirements.

I've found that it's helpful to have a set evening routine. On school nights, we're in bed by 9 pm so that we are getting enough sleep and can get up on time to get the next day started. This is a set routine that we carry through into the summer. This has made the transition from summer to school time seamless.

However, it isn't practical for everyone. When I was a kid, about a week or two before school started, I was required to be in bed by a certain time to help me get back into the routine. This might be something that could work for your family.

3. Set Clear Expectations and Rules

This is a big one. In a classroom, it's not easy to pull out your cell phone or browse the internet with the teacher physically there to deter you. The lure to watch TV and YouTube or play video games is strong at home. It's essential to have clear rules so that everyone is on the same page and understands what's expected of them.

Education is a top priority in our house. My son knows that he is not allowed to have his personal computer or any gaming device until after his schoolwork is done. He earns those privileges every day by showing up and doing his best. While he is a straight-A student, it's not the grade letter we expect. Instead, we expect him to actually learn the material and apply it. All we ask is that he gives an honest effort and tries his best.

These are our expectations and rules. They're simple, straightforward, and have helped our days run more smoothly.


4. Have a Plan for De-Stressing

I've seen the same commercial for a virtual school several times that shows parents and their kids at computers smiling and hugging. It makes me laugh and roll my eyes every time. This is not an accurate depiction.

Sure, you'll have the occasional "aha moment" when you get to witness your children read for the first time, understand a concept that they had struggled with, or receive a good grade on a difficult test. Those are the rewarding and rare moments that make virtual learning worth it, the times when you stop questioning yourself and think, 'yes, this was the right decision.'

But it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. There will be bad days. You and your children might be tired, a little burnt out, and you might even get to the point where you just want to pull your hair out. Understanding that this is inevitable and having a plan to cope is important. We all need to de-stress sometimes.

Don't be afraid to take a break. Go outside and play, have a snack, relax with a book, or grab the art supplies and color. Have a few activities that you and your children can do to have fun. Then get back to the school work with fresh minds.

5. Work on Communication

The key to any relationship is open and honest communication. This is also true when it comes to virtual learning. Make sure everyone in the house knows what's going on. Stay aware of how your children are doing and reach out to their teachers for help as needed. The teachers and school staff are there to support your children, but they can't help if they don't know there's a problem.

Likewise, if you're flexible with your schedule, keep your children's teachers aware of any changes. Let them know if you'll be taking a vacation outside of designated vacation days or if your children need to miss a day because they're sick.

Having an open line of communication with your children's teachers and other school staff is vital to having a successful school year.

© 2021 Alyssa


Alyssa (author) from Ohio on August 09, 2021:

Thank you Peggy!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on August 09, 2021:

I agree, Denise! Flexibility is so important!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on August 09, 2021:

Thank you Pamela!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on August 09, 2021:

Thank you so much Dora!

Alyssa (author) from Ohio on August 09, 2021:

Thank you Bill!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2021:

It makes sense to have a schedule, but then be flexible enough to break that pattern when needed. It would seem that your son is thriving. You can take definite pride in that.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 08, 2021:

These are great tips. I think the power/flexability to take breaks when they are needed is the most important. When you are in a classroom and a child has to take a break, the rest of the class moves on without him. But at home, he can do that, and then the work is until there later. I remember when our dog died unexpectedly and the children grieved. Being home, we were able to take a day off without losing anything academically. They couldn't have learned anything that day anyway. Flexibility is so important for kids.



Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2021:

I think you are one parent that makes learning work, unlike so many bad stories I have heard. I like your good tips for making virtual learning work, Alyssa. I am glad communiation is one step as I think that is vital. I think some parents will use your suggestions.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 08, 2021:

Thanks for sharing do clearly and in such detail. I'm sure that many parents will find these suggestions very helpful.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2021:

Great suggestions for this new world we live in. Well-written tips from one who has been there, done that, and done it well.

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