Helping Your Online Homeschooling Child

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Online opportunities are EXPLODING!  You are excited. You think to yourself, if I outsource and register my child for an online class, this will take one item off my “to do” list.  WOW! But wait, how involved do I need to be?   

Do I need to remind them to get online?

Do I need to sit with them during class?

Should I be checking to see if they understand the content taught?

Should I be involved in their homework?

If they have a question, should they email the teacher, or should I be the one who does?

Should I go over their teacher evaluations of their work (graded papers).

Honestly, that depend on your child.  Additionally, it depends on their age. There is not a single perfect answer.   But, creating general guidelines with help all those involved!

With this said, the more you “set the stage” in the beginning of every year with every age group – the better chance your student will be successful.

Elementary Students OR First Time Online Students

These are the students who will need the most support – especially at the beginning.  

Create a calendar for them.  Plot out their online learning times.  Remind them each day. Set an alarm to help them.   Help them log in and be prepared for some “tech issues” with the youngest or newest of online students.   Please explain to your child that the teacher can’t help them with tech issues during class as they are teaching; however, they are more than happy to help you after class.  During class, parents are the contact for any “tech issues”. It is wise for the parent of the new online learner to sit with the student for the first two classes to make sure everything runs smoothly.   Beginning at class three, just check in with them to make sure they logged in and are all set.

Help them use the Learning Management System (CANVAS) and show them where to find and how to turn in their assignments.  

Additionally, go over any class notes provided and any homework assignments.  Most elementary teachers DO give homework to enhance the learning experience; however, we do understand that parent are the primary homeschooling teacher and they can “trump” the online homeschooling teacher.  If you want to have your child “opt out” of homework, please contact the teacher IMMEDIATELY so everyone is on the same page.

Finally, at this level, especially in the beginning of any class if there are questions, it is best if you help your child compose any emails to the teacher.

Middle School Students with at least One Online Class Under their Belt

These students should be quite independent.   It is expected that they can log in and navigate the Learning Management System (CANVAS) with ease.   It is expected that these students CAN stay organized, locate the material they need, complete assignments, turn in assignments and find the graded/evaluated work.  

With that said, you need to check in – because – they are middle school students.

If they need help, yes, by all means, help them!  You are the homeschooling parent; however, if you see your student struggling, really struggling, you need to contact the instructor immediately.

High School Students

These students should be pretty independent; however, it is absolutely necessary to still go over expectations of the coursework after the first class to ensure your child is on the correct path.  Additionally, I would check in mid-week to make sure the student is progressing on all assigned work.  

Yes, ultimately at this point, it is the student’s responsibility; however, sometimes students can become overwhelmed and a quick “daily check in” will help before any issues become major problems.

Students with Learning Differences

When it comes to students with any significant learning differences, it is ALWAYS best if you touch base with the instructor even if you contacted the teacher before registering your child. Remember, teachers get 100s of emails.  A simple reminder of your child’s learning differences the week prior can help get your student off to a jump start.  

Always be 110% up front and honest.  Your online teacher is a learning partner with you.  If they are not aware of characteristics your child has, they will not be able to affectively educate them.  

When it comes to students with learning differences, you are going to (based on your child’s needs) help them.  Organization and building prior knowledge can help your child immensely. Additionally, breaking down their homework into step-by-step components will help your child.

Final Thoughts

When in doubt, communicating with your child’s teacher is encouraged.  Open Tent Academy teachers love to talk to families and are happy to make recommendations that will set your student up for an amazing year!

EvaEva Goldstein-Meola is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium.

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