More students than ever before are learning online, whether thrust into by circumstance (COVID-19 restrictions) or by choice (a growing number of students prefer learning online and are choosing online high schools over traditional classrooms).
While e-learning certainly has noticeable advantages for many students, it may take a period of adaption to get into the swing of things. As a parent, you may feel powerless to help as you watch your kid strive to adjust to a new academic reality, but, in fact, you can help. And you should help.
In this article, let’s detail the main differences between online learning and traditional classroom learning, and offer tips on how you can aid your high school student in the transition.
What’s the Big Difference?
Online learning offers several benefits. It’s more flexible, allowing students to work around their existing schedules or when they feel most alert. It’s self-paced, meaning students can allocate their efforts based on their individualized needs. And it’s free of the everyday distractions of being a high schooler – like social politics and the fear of “fitting in.”
Nevertheless, the transition can be awkward. In the absence of a teacher’s continuous, physical presence, students may find it challenging to stay on task. Without a dedicated classroom functioning as a behavioural boundary, students may feel distracted, unfocused or bored. And without the structure of an eight-to-three school day, some learners may have difficulties managing their time.
So what can you as a parent do?
How Parents Can Help
Take an active interest in your kid’s education throughout the process. From choosing the right online school to setting up a workspace and creating a structured study plan, you can be there every step of the way to set them up for success.
Find the Right School
The first and perhaps most important way you can help is to play an active role in choosing an online high school. Not all online schools are created alike. Some schools, like Ontario eSecondary School, offer a range of Ministry-approved classes, 24/7 online tutoring and a staff of passionate teachers. Not all online schools can say the same. If in doubt, look at the reviews of prospective schools; are they filled with positive notes from students and parents alike? If so, you’ve got a winner.
Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
In the absence of a classroom, you should set up a distinct, dedicated workspace. Pick somewhere quiet and isolated in the home, if possible. Get your kid a proper desk, a comfortable chair and all the supplies they need for a successful studying stint.
Work Together to Create Goals
It’s helpful to outline goals both big and small. What are “big” objectives your little learner is striving towards – and what are some small goals they can meet to achieve that ultimate objective. Writing things down helps a lot!
Encourage Structure (but Allow Flexibility)
It’s a tightrope walk. On the one hand, you want your student to structure their day so they can consistently meet their goals. On the other hand, one of the central benefits of online learning is flexibility – your kid should be able to break when they’re tired or study in the middle of the night if they feel it’s beneficial. Find a balance that works for your special situation. And be on hand to provide encouraging yet understanding reminders of the structure you have both agreed upon.
Online learning takes some adjustment, but with these simple tips, you can make the process smoother.