Why is it that in elementary school parents show up in droves to volunteer baked goods, chaperone a field trip or attend a PTA meeting, but by high school, it’s like POOF… parents take a back seat and are more hands off? Well, it’s time to reclaim the front seat! Parent engagement in high school is crucial in helping students succeed, especially in an online course.
Here are our most important tips for helping your child succeed in an online course:
Create a “Dedicated Learning Space”
Will the couch work? Not so much! While your child might pick a busy place in the home, ideally he or she will need a dedicated work space that is devoted to their online learning. No dedicated office space? No problem! Setting up something as simple as a card table in the spare bedroom with a notebook, pencils and other needed supplies will suffice. The point is that your child actually “goes to school” in that space, literally! One of our ASU Prep Digital students rides his bike to a local Starbucks once a week to do his work, and on another day spends time at his dad’s office to complete school work. Finding a learning space that works for your child may take some trial and error, but it’s worth the time to find dedicated space.
Set a Weekly Schedule
Sounds so simple, right? For many online students, keeping a schedule is one of the hardest transitions because, in a traditional school, your time is set by the bell. Helping your child set up a weekly schedule is time-consuming, but after a few weeks of helping, you can then empower them to do it themselves. A weekly schedule should be very detailed, down to the exact hour they will work and what they will achieve. For example, here is a typical Monday schedule for one of our full-time Freshmen at ASU Prep Digital:
- 8:00-9:00am: Alarm goes off, shower, breakfast, chores
- 9:00-10:00am: Attend Algebra 1 Live Lesson
- 10:00-11:00am: Work on History project and turn it in today
- 11:00-12:00pm: Lunch
- 12:00-2:00pm: Call Mrs. Safi about English paper due Friday and work on rough draft
- 2:00-3:00pm: Complete Unit 1 Lesson 2 in Leadership
- 3:00-4:00pm: Attend History Live Lesson
- 4:00pm: Read e-mail messages from school then free time!
Part-time students typically carve out about 45 minutes a day during the week or a few chunks of time over the weekend to complete coursework. Regardless of whether they’re taking one or all of their classes online, the key to success is helping your child not just block out time for each subject but also set specific assignments and projects to complete. Each online course will typically provide a pace chart, which will help to determine their weekly schedule. Be engaged, follow up with them, and make them show you what they’ve done. Trust, but verify!
Need help getting started? Download a copy of our free weekly calendar template here. Just print, fill the in blanks and you’re off and running!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate (Call, Text or Email the Online Instructor)
“Say what? But my child is 17 years old!” So what! Call the teacher!
At ASU Prep Digital, the teacher will most likely call you before you even realize your child is placed in an online course, but if you haven’t spoken directly with the teacher yet, pick up the phone! Opening the lines of communication between the instructor and you is a crucial component to helping your child succeed because YOU know your child best. In that first conversation share everything you know: How does he learn best? Does she have an IEP or need accommodations? What does he like to do outside of school? Most importantly, find out how you—the parent—can best support your child. Is there a pacing guide you can print out? Are there live classes held, and if so, what day and time? Are there extra help sessions available if your child gets stuck?
The fact that you’re reading a blog post about how to help your child succeed is a good indication that you are already supporting and advocating for their academic success. If your child hasn’t already done so, I thank you. They’re lucky to have you! Kids (even high school kids) need support. They really, really do. While the tendency to be more “hands off” in high school is the norm these days, continue to empower your child to succeed.
The best way to start is with a clear schedule. Download a copy of our free weekly planning calendar here.
Originally published September 18, 2017