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Helping Your Kids with Online Learning

The move from traditional school to online learning can be difficult for many students. As family members, it can be hard to know exactly how to help. Whether you’re helping your kids with online learning for public school, private school, or planning a homeschool curriculum with online components, the following strategies can help smooth the transition.

First and foremost, online learning doesn’t have to be entirely digital. While the curriculum may be online, there is value in having your student leave the computer sometimes to do an assignment. For example, your student may work on paper and upload a picture or scan of the work. They may take notes in a notebook as they read or view information on the computer. Encourage your student to stand up, move around, and explore the area for real-world connections to the online curriculum as well. If your student is struggling to engage with online learning, plan on printing materials to ease the transition.

Another way to ease the transition is to provide structure. You can help your child to structure their day by crafting a family planning calendar together. A large calendar, with assignments mapped out, can help students to break their work into smaller, more manageable tasks. Seeing the whole day at a glance can help keep students from experiencing the “I don’t know what to do” roadblock.

In addition to a large calendar, a homeschool lesson planner is a great tool to use. You can track lessons and assignments, whether you are the teacher, facilitator, or learning coach. A Homeschool lesson planner can help to break down projects into manageable chunks as well.

Next, check-in with your child often. At the very least, check-in at the beginning, middle, and end of the day. Check-ins can be quick or in-depth. One way to check-in is to work together to cross tasks off the family planning calendar. This can be a great way to incorporate happy celebrations into the day. “You finished the project? Yes! Cross it off! Now go take a break!”

Speaking of breaks, remember to schedule rest breaks on the calendar. Many students struggle with online learning because they forget to take the rests that are usually built into a regular school day. Usually, there are breaks between classes, times when students can turn and talk to each other, and, of course, recess. Essentially, kids can burn out from working on the computer all day. Make sure the rest period is a valuable break. Taking a break from the computer screen to play a phone game may be a break for the brain, but it’s not a break from eye strain. A healthy snack, quick game, or walk could be a valuable break.

Another area where kids may need your help is communication. If there is an online teacher or facilitator involved, your child may be shy to talk to him or her through the computer. To get over the awkwardness of a screen-to-screen chat, sit with your child for the first few calls. Help your child talk to the instructor. Be careful, though! Don’t speak for your child. Encourage your child to speak and be supportive. Then remove the supports so the student can talk to the teacher on their own.

In the long run, students learning online are developing valuable life skills. They’re learning executive skills, like planning, scheduling, independence, and communication. You may need to give your child some extra support now to transition to online learning, but in the end, it will be a valuable move!