Isolation. Chaos. Stress. If you’re like most parents trying virtual school for the first time in 2020, you’ve likely felt these side effects of a thrown-together program that is not tailored to your middle schooler’s learning needs. And it’s probably left you wondering will they fall behind?
When done well, online learning can offer unrivaled schedule flexibility for your family and push your pre-teen to a deeper level of understanding concepts. It can offer increased classroom participation and engagement, and the convenience of working from anywhere with a WiFi signal.
So how do you do online school well? Here are five tips for setting your child up for success, and how to find the best program fit.
Set Family Goals
When schools shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was easy to compare your online learning experience with your friend’s experience (and that’s ok!). As a parent, you might have worried, am I doing it right?
Now that you’ve had more time with online learning and are considering if it’s a good, long-term fit for your child, it’s important to decide what online school should look like for your family. (Hint: what’s right for your family might not look the same as what’s right for your friend’s family.)
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you create a schooling plan:
- How much flexibility do you want in your schedule?
- How involved do you want to be on a daily basis?
- What do you think successful online learning looks like?
Defining boundaries will protect your family time, manage expectations for you and your student, and limit frustrations.
Set a school-at-home schedule
Although flexibility is a huge benefit of online learning, it’s also important to organize a schedule that will work for your family. This is especially important if you or your spouse works from home.
Decide when you want to do school each day, then stay consistent as you develop a routine. Discuss expectations with your tween so they understand when they need to focus on independent work, and when you’re going to be available to offer assistance. Work in healthy snack breaks and gentle exercises to help them stay focused and keep up energy levels. Oh, and let your tween weigh in! They’ll be even more excited about online school if they know they have some control over their schedule.
Is online middle school right for your child?
Create a healthy learning environment
Middle school is an exciting stage in your child’s life — they’re going through changes on many levels, and you want them to be in a safe place that doesn’t compromise their learning. Online school can help you achieve that, but what should your student’s learning environment look like at home?
Designate an area for their studies.
Setting up a functional space for schoolwork can help your pre-teen focus. The space does not have to be large, but it should have good light, low noise, minimal clutter, and comfortable seating. This is another opportunity to get your child involved and excited about online school: let them help decorate their work area or desk with personal touches that don’t distract but add personality and fun to the space.
Manage access to technology.
Despite its name, virtual school doesn’t mean your student has to sit in front of a computer all day. Schools like Lenawee Christian Academy incorporate step-away activities to encourage students to explore hands-on learning. Make sure your student has access to the technology they need for assignments, but that they aren’t relying on it more than necessary.
Provide opportunities for social interaction
Your tween is a digital native and probably gets the technology piece of online learning. It’s likely they even look forward to the idea of online school, especially if it offers a gamification model that is personalized to their learning preferences. But when your pre-teen isn’t in a traditional school setting, are they going to miss out on social activities? It’s a common question parents consider when researching online school options.
When you set up your school-at-home schedule, designate free time for your tween to spend with friends. It will give them something to look forward to when they finish their work, and will give you peace of mind that they are not isolated. If you’re still concerned about how much interaction they will have with peers, look into online schools that prioritize social activities. LCA offers optional virtual meetings twice a week for students to hang out with their friends. These meetings are 100 percent social — check all academics at the door!
Pursue enrichment experiences
As a parent, you also want to make sure you’re providing opportunities for your pre-teen to be a well-rounded student as they develop new interests. It’s an understandable concern, and is similar to that of missed social interactions — will your student miss out on extracurricular activities if they don’t attend a traditional school?
LCA students participate in a range of extracurricular activities, including clubs, chapel, peer discussions, and e-sports. Beyond that, you can also encourage your pre-teen to do things like learn how to play an instrument, participate in a sport, and be a part of your church youth group. This will give their eyes and minds a respite from the screen and the chance to pursue interests in your local community.
Finding the right online middle school
No one knows your child better than you do. Download our parent guide and learn more about what online middle school looks like at Lenawee Christian Academy, and if it’s a good fit for your student. Click below to get your free guide.
A Tuition Discount is available for a limited time! Enroll your student by February 15, 2021 and get 1/2-off the tuition for the 2021-22 school year. Use promo code LCA1231# when you apply.
This offer is extended to families with incoming 6th or 7th graders. This offer is not available to current students enrolled at Lenawee Christian School or families who reside within 30 miles of the LCS campus in Adrian, MI.