When it comes to our children’s education, parents will do everything in our power to help them succeed. From as early as pre-school, we stress over getting them in the best school with the best teachers. As they grow up, we are there to act on a seemingly never-ending list of needs and wants, from books and backpacks to eventually laptops and of course the biggest focus in any teen’s life, school clothes!
The introduction of cyber schools has created a slew of new learning opportunities for students, and with it, a whole new list of ways for parents to get involved. Regardless of the type of online education you choose for your student, there are right and not-so-right ways to help. Online education can be the best path to success for some families, however, it can be very easy to miscalculate the right balance of parent participation. Don’t worry … at Agora, we are here to help. Below are a few do’s and don’ts for parenting online students.
DO- Involve yourself in the initial “setup week” of each semester/month/unit
The first few days of every semester are crucial for online students. It is where you get your syllabus and basic overview of what to expect and also what is expected of you. Work together with your student to establish a clear-cut routine for everyone in the house, include shower times, classes, testing, and mid-day breaks.
DON’T-Let time slip away
Create a central calendar for important exam and project dates, as well as a time for you to meet up and discuss how things are going a week or two into the school year. Add social events and community outings as well as Parent Workshops and key testing dates. Online learning is truly a family-wide experience; it is important to work together and keep lines of communication open at all times.
DO- Create a “quiet study zone” in your home
If classes are occurring right in the living room and you’re washing dishes in the kitchen, it can be hard to concentrate on school. So if your home permits, let your son or daughter have their own space where they can concentrate and focus on tasks at hand. No space? No problem! Designate school hours as quiet hours in your home.
DON’T- Do everything for them
It can start out very innocently- you’re both home and your son or daughter asks a simple question. Maybe they ask for your help with a project or pop quiz, but next thing you know, you’re writing entire essays and taking tests. With younger children especially, it can be very easy to make their work your work! Assist, but don’t do. They are the student and they have to learn how to do it for themselves!
Also, while you should assist them in setting up their computer and network connection, make sure they know the ins and outs on how to trouble shoot it. With high school students in particular, their studies should never rely solely on you being by their side! Agora has a dedicated IT Support Desk that is available Monday-Friday ,7am-10pm, and on Saturday from 9am-3pm so help is just a phone call away.
DON’T – Hesitate to connect with other cyber school parents to learn their tips for success
Most online school schools will organize local social events for everyone to enjoy. These events are great for the kids to get together and grow socially, but they are also excellent opportunities to sit with other parents to discuss your experiences. There’s plenty to learn from each other and it’s nice to have a sense of support amongst families in similar situations. Agora hosts face-to-face events at various locations across the state. For more information or to find an event in your area visit www.agoraeagles.org/face-to-face-events.
You can also join our Facebook FANS pages that are grouped by regions so you can connect with other families in your area. These FANS pages are closed groups and only open to currently enrolled students and their families – and they are a great source for sharing important information!
DO- Realize that a cyber school is just like other public schools!
Regional proms, an annual commencement, school nurses conducting health screenings, guidance counselors helping chart an academic journey and highly qualified teachers teaching their favorite subjects are just a few ways a cyber school is identical to other schools!
And just because your son or daughter doesn’t attend a brick and mortar school, doesn’t mean they get to skip out on the national and state testing for each grade. At Agora, we bring together students during the month of April for the required Pennsylvania mandated PSSA and Keystone tests. Parents can also attend special workshops during testing time. These workshops are an important way for parents and learning coaches to share valuable tips for managing cyber students and their unique learning style.
Getting the hang of being independent and learning online can be difficult at first, for both the student and the parent. And it’s a very big adjustment for a student who has been in a traditional brick and mortar school for a while. But it’s important to remember why you chose this option for your child in the first place. Always remember: Agora teachers, family coaches, and staff are here to help in any way we can.