Q&A: How Can I Help My Child Succeed in an Online School?

Answer: Parents perform a very important role in their child's online schooling. While they're not expected to home school the child by any means, the parent's presence is vital to a student's success in this type of learning environment.

The parent of an online student is often referred to as a learning coach. It can be difficult for students attending school online to maintain a schedule which allows him or her enough time to complete assignments. Parents should keep in mind that although the child does not attend a traditional school with typical hours, he or she will still need approximately three to five hours per day to complete school work. Children may also need help staying motivated or on task throughout the day.

Online students should have a space in their home dedicated to completing their daily assignments. Homes have the tendency to become distracting, especially with siblings in the house and normal interruptions like the doorbell, phone, or television. A desk in the child's bedroom will usually suffice, offering the student some peace and quiet to work on reading assignments, live sessions with their teacher, math problems, and projects or research reports that all have a deadline.

Parents must also make sure their child has all of the necessary equipment to complete classwork. The student will need a computer with a reliable internet connection and supplies such as notebooks, pencils, calculators, and other items required by the teacher. Keeping each of these supplies in the space dedicated to schooling will help minimize disorganization and enable the child to be successful.

Finally, parents should enrich their child's learning with field trips and other extracurricular activities. Families new to online schooling can seek out others in the area with similar educational goals. In many communities, there are groups of online students and parents that meet regularly to socialize, study, or go on educational outings, such as trips to the museum.

Christi WilsonChristi Wilson is a credentialed teacher of highly-gifted students in Northern Nevada. She has 11 years of classroom teaching experience, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in education leadership, and has even taught K-12 education online. A mother of three busy boys, she knows how important it is to keep students engaged in the classroom and interested in a lifetime of learning.