How to Homeschool Online

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I have been in education for over 30 years.  Over the last three decades, I have worn numerous hats in my field.  I have been a self-contained classroom teacher, a school wide reading specialist, a private tutor, a homeschooling mother, a homeschooling (live) teacher and a homeschooling (virtual) teacher.  Additionally, I have presented at a variety of conferences, both as a public-school teacher as well as a homeschooling teacher. With this said, there are just some “good habits” that students should employ to optimize their education.

With this said, as a virtual student, these “good habits” are even more critical as they are learning online.  Here are my top five!

Expectations of Class

At OTA, on our website, we have not only a class description, class session, day and time of class meeting and a syllabus.  Download the syllabus. Look it over. Not only is the class description on the syllabus, but the class expectations, homework expectations, week-by-week anticipated topics and any supplies needed.   

I can’t express how crucial it is to read this!  Think about if your child will truly have time for this course. 

A typical high school class must have 60 hours in each semester (.5) or 120 hours in a year.   This is about 6 hours a week. These hours are split between independent work (homework) and class times.  If class is 1.5 hours a week, the student will have about 4.5 hours a week of work. Please factor this into their day.

A typical middle school class will have about 2 hours of homework a week.  And, a typical elementary school class, will have about 1 ½ hours of homework a week.

All homework is given to expand and explore the topics being taught in class.

Understanding the expectations PRIOR to class will ensure that you and your child is completely satisfied with the course!

Participate in the LIVE Class

Yes, Open Tent Academy does record their live classes; however, we have seen over and over the students who gain the most from our classes participate in our live classes.   Come to class ready to learn. What does this mean? Look over any “pre-class material” provided. This might come in the form of class notes or a textbook chapter. Building prior knowledge before class is a wise move!  

If you can’t participate in the live class, we understand.  Yes, emergencies come up. If that happens from time-to-time, watch the recording as soon as possible.  Do not attempt to complete assignments without the benefit of watching the class. Reading the class notes or textbook is ok; however, teachers always give additional information during class.  This information is typically not in the book and needed to understand the material.

Pay attention and be Engaged During Class

It is obviously extremely tempting to send emails, texts, watch videos or search the internet during class; however, I strongly encourage you to resist the temptation.  When you do not pay attention, you miss important information. You need to be engaged.  

Engaged?  Ready to get married?  Is that what you mean?   No – that is not what I mean.  I mean you need to participate.  You need to answer questions. You need to ask questions.  (Teachers are ALWAYS happy to answer questions). You need to respond to what your classmates’ thoughts are!  Being fully immersed in class will help you tremendously. 

Budget your Time

At OTA, most classes have homework.  This is laid out in the syllabus that parents can access before registering their child.  Parents should look at this and think about your child’s time commitments.  

During class, teachers will go over the homework in depth.  Remember, we meet for a live class once a week. We expect that students work between 15 minutes (elementary) to 50 minutes (high school) every day on their work.  

The homework given at OTA is provided to strengthen your child’s understanding of a concept.  Busy work is NOT given. Most work is in the form of journal writing, writing papers, project based or reading to establish background information.

Either way, this takes time.  Make sure you have enough time to do a good job on your homework.  Homework strengthens your learning experience.

And please – do NOT wait until the last minute to do your homework.  You will not gain anything out of rushed homework.

Read Directions

This is a big one, yet so many students (and unfortunately parents) do not do this.  Do not assume you know the directions or remember the direction from class. This is especially important in multi-step directions.   And, at that point, if there is any confusion, contact your teacher immediately.

Although a virtual class, teachers WANT to hear from their students.  We know we see you only once a week, if you have a question, we are HERE FOR YOU!  

By contacting the teacher, you will not lose points on your homework because you did not understand the directions.

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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