Resources for New Online Learning Families
Thanks to the internet, children have the capability to create, research, collaborate, and explore in their learning as much as they need to. It feels like just yesterday that thousands upon thousands of parents were scrambling to adjust to an environment where their kids’ education was bottlenecked behind a screen because of a public health crisis.
The pandemic showed countless families the upside to online learning, and exposed many cracks in the online learning process, especially when administered by brick-and-mortar schools. Many parents may still be unaware of the virtual school community and resources for online learning that existed long before COVID-19. From other parents to web-based tools to your Laurel Springs team, here is a guide to all the resources at your disposal to help you transition to online learning with your children.
Fostering the ideal learning environment
When students are unleashed from the walls of a brick-and-mortar classroom and suddenly find themselves able to learn without borders, there is endless potential—and also the potential for endless distraction.
This can be remedied with a solid strategy for maximizing your child’s clearly defined and age-appropriate learning space. Having an area dedicated to learning enforces a comfortable, focused environment distinctly separate from spaces better suited for breaks, relaxation, leisure, or socializing.
The perfect space for online student learning should be comfortable, distraction-free, dedicated to school, and individualized to match your child’s learning style and personality.
Here are a few questions to ask as you embark on creating an effective space for your child’s learning, along with some tips for consideration:
- Would your student’s eyes wander to the television (or any other technology or device) if they’re working in your home’s shared living space?
- Do they get overwhelmed when there’s too much conversation, noise, or movement?
- If yes, consider noise-canceling headphones, the sound of a whirring fan, or soft earplugs if a consistently quiet space isn’t available.
- Does your child focus best in a structured office chair or lounging on their favorite recliner?
- Not sure? Some kids thrive with the ability to choose whether they sit, stand, or even recline, depending on the assignment. From beanbags to adjustable desks, seating options can make for comfortable and ideal learning.
- Can two online-learning siblings co-work in the same space, or might bickering and chatter ensue?
If you have more than one at-home learner you MUST take this into consideration. Your students may have completely different learning styles and ideal environments for day-to-day learning. If you know for sure, or even suspect that a shared learning space would be more of a hindrance than a benefit, look at options for creating different spaces.
Once you identify your student’s ideal learning environment, enlist their help in making the space their own—a mini fridge, a snack cart, a Bluetooth speaker for their studying playlist, a cozy throw blanket, etc. Make the process of setting up their study area exciting!
Finally, hold them accountable to use the identified space. Make sure breaks are mindfully taken apart from the learning area and that distractions are minimized.
Scheduling and time management resources
The perfect online studying conditions rely on more than just the physical surroundings. Scheduling and time management is key to success in a virtual learning environment.
To start, identify the most opportune time of day for your student to focus on school work. Maybe it is broken up into 1-hour chunks with a 30-minute relaxation period afterward. Perhaps your child thrives when able to identify their own timeline within an identified deadline to finish modules or write a paper. Maybe your child's day is built around a less-flexible practice or rehearsal schedule that begins at 8 am, so learning happens in the afternoon hours.
Some students are vigorous self-starters, while others need a little more nudging from their parents and/or teachers to gain momentum. Some parents of online learners advise treating schoolwork like a job (with a flexible schedule), encouraging accountability, organization, and independence. Others admit that parental intervention and a consistent hour-by-hour schedule were necessary, in their experience, to facilitate academic success.
Other resources for parents of online learners
As you embark on online learning (outside of a pandemic) for the first time, you may have questions as you navigate being a parent of an online student. You may need tools you’ve never even thought of—like educational games, online science projects, digital libraries, and parent communities.
We’ve compiled a few resources that may be useful for parent networking, studying, tutoring, or other supplemental activities:
Resources for you at Laurel Springs
The solutions and tools you need might be at your fingertips if your student is a learner at Laurel Springs. You play a very important role in supporting your learner, and we want to do everything we can to support you.
Our Parent Resources section goes more in-depth on how we can help you help your child, but here’s a rundown to keep bookmarked. Through Laurel Springs, you can:
- Get familiar with everyone that has a stake in your child’s learning, whether it's teachers or their admissions and/or academic counselor.
- Watch over your student’s progress through our Learning Management System (LMS). This system allows you to view thoughtful feedback personalized to your child’s coursework and academic progression. Our LMS will show you everything you need to know, including grades and assignments, to-do lists, and course material.
- Feeling inundated with questions about how to support your online learner as a parent? Laurel Springs Parent Ambassadors are here to help light the way. They’ll answer questions, share anecdotes, and provide advice on navigating the world of online learning. These ambassadors live anywhere, have students of any grade level, and can speak to any number of extracurricular activities, so they truly are a wealth of information!
- Find the village of people that will guide you through all the questions only other parents can answer, thanks to our Laurel Springs Families regional Facebook groups. Through these groups, you could participate in meet-ups with other Laurel Springs families in your area, seek advice, recommendations, or feedback, or just exchange experiences with other parents in similar situations. Facebook groups for parents of online students may exist outside of Laurel Springs, but the Laurel Springs groups are great resources for parents adjusting to online education at our institution.
- Additionally, monthly Community Connections at Laurel Springs are a space where parents can connect with each other in similar ways.
Looking for a quick answer? You may find it in this treasure trove of first-hand wisdom nuggets from Laurel Springs parents, who banded together to share their advice for online school parents during the pandemic. From teaching young learners self-sufficiency to implementing structure, there’s a suggestion here for just about everything.
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