Online education is a choice that families make when — for one reason or another — the traditional school environment just doesn’t work for them. Online schools can offer flexible schedules, curricular choices and a degree of freedom that can make learning more exciting for students and more comfortable for parents.
When making the transition to online education, however, it’s important to remember that the change can stress a kid out. Children may be anxious while adjusting to an online school. When they have a problem with coursework, need help communicating with teachers or peers, or have trouble adjusting to a flexible school schedule, where can they turn?
Let’s take a look at some of the common problems — and the most effective solutions — that we’ve seen children and parents experience during their transition to online education.
What Happens When Students Struggle with a Course?
With freedom comes responsibility! This is often the first lesson when a student starts at an online private school like Keystone.
Sometimes, when given the flexibility of choosing when and how to do coursework, a student falls behind. When online students struggle to keep up at The Keystone School, there are a variety of solutions available.
“If a parent gets a message that their student is not on track to finish within the one year, it can be really stressful,” Elizabeth Jones, supervisor of the Student Success Advisory at Keystone, says. “It’s one of the many reasons our Student Success Advisory team is in place. It is a common occurrence, especially when you put teenagers into the mix.”
Parents at Keystone School are considered Learning Coaches. Being proactive about encouraging your students to seek help for any struggles they have in a course is part of the Learning Coach’s job.
Keystone students can rely on Student Success Advisors to then work with them on identifying exactly what the problem is, looking at its source so it doesn’t occur again, and finding a solution.
“Maybe a progress report gets sent and a parent says to their student, ‘I thought you were further along in this course. What’s going on?’” Ms. Jones explains. “Parents might reach out to a Student Success Advisor for a plan on how to get back on track. That’s what we’re here for.”
How Can Students Best Communicate with Peers and Adults?
It’s a myth that online students lack social opportunities. These young learners have many chances to chat with peers and teachers.
But — since it’s a new approach for many students — they sometimes need a little guidance to get going.
When a student starts at Keystone for the first time, she may wonder about the best way to establish communication with peers and adults at the school.
“One great place we want new students to take advantage of is the Resource and Orientation Center, which explains everything they need to know,” Megan Strittmatter, Keystone’s Student Success Advisor, says. “There are videos in every section exactly how to submit this type of assignment, how to create a schedule. We also host a ‘Getting Started’ webinar every week. We do a course walk through.”
Those tools offered by Keystone are designed to help a student know where and how to contact everyone they need to communicate with to excel with their program. Students can avoid stressing about who to contact when they have easy access to peers, teachers, and other adult staff members who can walk them through issues they encounter.
What If Students Have Trouble Sticking to a Schedule?
Sticking to a schedule is one of an online student’s most important skills (see the first question above about falling behind!). Like all skills, it takes some work to hone.
“A lot of students aren’t used to this level of responsibility; they are used to relying on a teacher for reminders about reading, assignments and tests, and when they have to meet all those deadlines,” Ms. Jones says. “At Keystone, you need to be working steadily throughout the year in order to really finish successfully.”
“Building a schedule is one of the most important things students can do,” Ms. Strittmatter adds. “Being self-paced, Keystone is truly an independent study program, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need structure. You still need to have a plan. It can be specific to your life, but you need to have a plan.”
Speak Up! It Helps.
At many online schools — Keystone included — the whole process relies on the willingness of the child to do the work and engage with the program. Being proactive helps — when your child has a question or runs into a wall, she can’t wait for someone to come to her. She needs to connect with her teachers and get the answers she needs. It’s a great life lesson!
Interested in an Online Education?
Are the benefits of a flexible education important to your family? Visit the Keystone School online today to learn more.