With schools being closed for the remainder of the school year, your child is most likely completing his or her school year online. This raises several questions:
How long this situation will last?
Will there be ‘regular school in the fall?
Will school be the same in the fall?
How will this affect my education in the long run?
Once school buildings reopen and students return to non-virtual learning, it is fair to wonder if it might be best for your children to continue their education online – in part or in whole.
Is Virtual Learning Right for Your Child?
At this point due to the realities of life today virtual learning may be your child’s only educational option. This may be done in a variety of ways which have been addressed in this blog and the mAke the grAde video library such as this video…
For the purpose of this article, let’s focus how your child will be getting educated and how they will be receiving information, and how well they can learn virtually.
For many students, interaction with other students and their teachers is paramount and these are inherently an integral part of the learning process, but that is not the case for everyone. Each student learns in a different way, whether it be visual, auditory, verbal or physical, (or a combination) so some children may prefer a more self-paced and independent home virtual learning option.
Some virtual classes have a teacher presenting the material either live or in an asynchronous manner, but most virtual curricula require the student to work independently. So while the instruction itself and the learning pacing may be preferred, it may still be difficult for students to learn and be free from distractions. So there are benefits and challenges.
I have addressed the need for the 5 structures for home / virtual learning in this podcast episode. They are critical for success regardless of the source of the information or the learning platform.
Older children are typically more independent and able to manage their time more efficiently while younger children will need help staying on a consistent schedule and maintaining a structure. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child has enough time and the proper structure to complete their assignments. and you will need to oversee the time they spend on the computer to make sure that they are staying on task. You also need to consider that your kids will not have the same social engagements as they would in a physical classroom setting. Still, there is room for a flexible schedule and opportunity for social interaction with others outside of a classroom setting.
The Best Way for Your Child to Succeed in Virtual Learning
Again, the 5 structures are critical to success but, as a parent, to help your child succeed in a virtual classroom, you have to do some preparation and planning short term (daily) and longer term (weekly, monthly etc). First, create physical structure – an area where they can work undisturbed. Your children will also need to have the proper equipment, such as a computer, writing paper and pencils just like ‘school’. Also create the time structure and do not neglect scheduling time in their day for them to go outside and play as well as for crafts or other fun activities. Make a calendar for your children and create a schedule they can follow. All of these tools can help your child acclimate to a routine much like being in a physical school building.
Special Case = Options for Virtual SAT and ACT Preparation
Prepping for the SAT and ACT has always had a virtual / online component so there is much less adjustment for the students in these situation. Further, there is a narrow and well defined curriculum used for test prep for both the SAT and ACT prep – which is to say that what the students need to learn does not vary. Tutoring or online courses are available and specifically designed to prepare your child for these standardized tests have existed for years including a complete program at mAke the grAde which you can research here.
Virtual home learning, when optional and not mandated, may be an option to explore. In many cases, students enjoy the more independent nature of the academic pacing and style. There are challenges, such as needing structure and ensuring a complete curriculum, but the benefits may outweigh the downsides.