Keystone’s Online KAL Program: A flexible fit for adults seeking a high school diploma

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There are many reasons why people leave high school without a diploma. Some students, for example, miss several days, or even weeks, of school due to illness, moves or family issues. They fall behind and never catch back up.

Others think that earning a GED will be quicker and easier than going to class every day.

Poor grades may discourage a student, who simply decides to quit; and there are people who just don’t like school.

More important than the decision to leave school, however, is the decision to go back. Beginning on Jan. 23, 2017, the Keystone School is giving adults who want to earn their high school diploma the flexibility to finish high school from home.

Why does an adult need a high school diploma?

The first reason is simple: money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school graduate can earn, on average, over $185 more each week than someone who doesn’t have a diploma — that’s $9,620 a year. That’s extra income that any person could use.

Opportunities like attending college and work promotions become real possibilities. More of life’s doors start to open.

Pride plays a role, too. A high school diploma is a big moment in all of our lives. Reaching that goal is a genuine achievement, regardless of age.

“The benefits are significant,” says Elizabeth Jones, Keystone’s Deputy Head of School, Adult Learning. “Adults with a high school diploma have a higher income potential and can be proud that they reached such an important milestone.”

How does someone find time for school if they’re busy working or raising a family?

Many hard-working adults want to earn their high school diploma but have a difficult time seeing when they’ll have the time. They already struggle with long hours, uncertain schedules and tough commutes just to earn a living each day.

Keystone’s Adult Learning (KAL) program, however, offers the flexibility to fit into busy lives.

How?

  • School is always in session. The KAL program is online and students can work on their courses at any time. If 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. is the best time to get schoolwork done, KAL offers that flexibility.
  • The student chooses the courses to take — and not to take. Students can take as many or as few KAL classes as they want. When someone wants to earn that high school degree, she can dive into KAL’s Standard Pathway with a full course load that includes core subjects, electives and world languages — or just take one or two courses at a time. Can the student do this on the standard pathways? If yes, okay
  • Some students can even accelerate. If a student has a long work history, earned 12 or more high school credits in the past and is highly motivated to get a diploma fast, she can choose KAL’s Accelerated Pathway. A student can earn a high school degree in a year or less in the Accelerated Pathway program. Is this true? If yes , okay

“Keystone’s flexibility allows adult learners to create a plan that meets their specific needs,” Ms. Jones says. “They can do school work after their day job ends, or after they put their children to bed at night. The flexibility is a key benefit to Keystone’s Adult Learning program. It can be overwhelming to think of going back if an adult has been out of school for quite some time — but Keystone has the option for students to only enroll in one or two courses to get started. This can help adult learners take small, but important steps toward reaching their goal of earning a high school diploma.”

How do students get the work done?

On any given day, an adult student can work on assignments, email teachers, administrators or advisors or ask instructors coursework questions.

“Teachers are available to support adult learners when they have questions — they only need to reach out their teacher by phone or email to request assistance,” Ms. Jones notes. “Student Services are also available to assist with non-academic questions. Keystone’s guidance counselors can assist with the college application process or answer questions regarding college or career planning.”

Since the program is flexible — adults can enroll at any time of the year and complete courses on their own schedule — there may be some days when students just don’t have time for schoolwork. That’s fine, too.

How do students pay for the program?

Keystone offers a generous tuition payment program for adult learners. If a student needs to pay incrementally, KAL will work to make sure that happens.

Does this diploma “count” as much as a traditional high school diploma?

Some people may be hesitant to pursue a high school diploma as an adult because of the concern that, for whatever reason, achieving a degree later in life is somehow worth less to a college or an employer. This is not true.

Your options are not limited by a diploma from Keystone’s Adult Learning program — they expand significantly. An adult who earns a Keystone high school diploma has met the same requirements that any of our traditional students must achieve, as well. There is no difference in quality.

In fact, Keystone graduates generally meet college entrance requirements and have a strong history of acceptance into post-secondary programs.

Where can adults who want to earn a high school diploma get more information about the KAL program?

For more information on the Keystone Adult Learning Program or to enroll today, visit Keystone online at www.keystoneschoolonline.com or call 1-844-363-5206 today.

 

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How To Get Your Children Motivated To Do School Work

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How to get your children motivated to do school work

It’s easy to spot the things that your child enjoys. Kids are naturally motivated when they have a passion for an activity or truly look forward to a project. Think about your own work life — when you are assigned a project that excites and motivates you, you want to work on it all day long. When you have a task you consider dull, tedious or uninteresting, the work may sit on your desk for a week (or longer).

Just as you had to train yourself to tackle the projects that you’d rather hand off to the office intern, your child has to learn how to complete schoolwork even when she’d rather do anything else. This is especially true for students who receive an online education — the flexibility and freedom provided by the digital learning environment can be a double-edged sword if procrastination becomes a regular problem.

Motivation isn’t always easy, though. We’ve compiled some strategies for you, as a parent and learning coach, to use when your child seems less-than-engaged with the day-to-day responsibilities of an education.

6 ways to get your child motivated today:

1.
Switch the Routine.

Nobody enjoys getting stuck in the same routine every day. For many students, a rigid schedule can be one of the biggest drawbacks of traditional schooling. Luckily, online education allows your family to have a great deal of flexibility — take full advantage! When the brain gets a change in its routine, it feels more stimulated, challenged and open to taking in information. Something as simple as switching the order of subjects or where you review a lesson for the day can work wonders.

2. Use the “When You” Rule.

The “when you” rule is a concept that all kids can grasp. Adults know it all too well because we get paid by the “when you” rule — when you put in a week’s work, you get a paycheck.

You can teach your child that she can earn rewards for doing well in school. For example, you can motivate a child to study by offering them the opportunity to do something fun after school — when you finish your math lesson, you can go spend time with your friends.

3. Small Things Can Lead to Big Successes.

Encourage your child to break their tasks down into small, doable parts. For example, if your daughter has to read an entire chapter of a textbook, you may encourage her to break it up into a page at a time. Adults have found that the Pomodoro technique is very effective in getting business work done — that’s when you use a timer to break the day into periods of work followed by short breaks — because it breaks up heavy concentration into small segments at a time.

When you want your kids to get motivated to do schoolwork, that can enjoy the same benefits by breaking up their schoolwork down into small pieces.

4.
Create Structure.

Structure doesn’t go out the window just because you and your family pursued online education. Add some expectations into your child’s school day.

You may opt to have a time each day that you help your child with schoolwork, such as right before dinner. Also, simply having one specific work station for your child is a great idea.

“Making independent learning feel like school is important,” K12 Student Success Advisor Megan Strittmatter says. “You are working from home, but having a designated spot in the home that feels like school can make students much more productive.”

5. Acknowledge Good Work

Everyone wants to receive praise for doing good work. Heap praise on your child when she does well in school. Be sure to praise the work that she does, too. For example, even if your child is naturally very bright, praise how hard she worked to prepare for a test instead of complimenting her natural-born talents. That will help motivate her to try even harder in school, develop that work ethic and earn your praise again.

6. Set Attainable Goals

As much fun as it can be for a child to work towards a goal, you don’t want to set expectations too high — you may discourage a youngster who can’t live up to the height at which the bar has been set.

“Having an end date to the school year helps get parents and students on the same page, facing that one goal together,” Elizabeth Jones, supervisor of Student Success Advisory at Keystone, says. “Getting this direction established will answer questions like, ‘Where am I going and what am I doing with this class?'”

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Want to learn more about online education?

If your child is an athlete, actor, musician or just wants the flexibility that an online education can provider, please visit The Keystone School online today.

 

Tips for Time Management from the Best Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Frustrated high school student

One of the key reasons why a family chooses to forgo the traditional, brick-and-mortar educational system is flexibility – the desire to pursue an education on their own schedule and their own terms.

Online education is not, however, a quick and easy shortcut! With freedom and flexibility comes great responsibility.

When your child attends an online private school like The Keystone School, he or she is still responsible for completing the necessary coursework. He or she is still responsible for reaching out to teachers and faculty for help.  And, he or she is still responsible for hitting certain deadlines.

And you – as the parent and learning coach – are still responsible for making sure your student is getting his or her work done.

Time management becomes a crucial skill. When the moment comes to buckle down and learn, your child must do the work.

Need help? Consider these tips for time management from some of the top colleges and universities in the United States – highly-charged, hyper-competitive environments where every minute of studying counts.

Make Studying Social

The admissions department at Harvard[1] understands that a student may want to put off studying because your child would rather socialize. There’s no reason she can’t do both.

Studying with friends gives your child a chance to catch up with her peers, have a few laughs and avoid suffering from FOMO – fear of missing out. At the same time, she has a ready made group to ask questions, find inspiration and debate interpretations.

These study get-togethers also offer you, as a parent, a chance to meet other parents and do a little socializing of your own while the kids dig into their coursework.

Plan and Prioritize

Stanford Undergrad, a guide published by the vice provost for undergraduate education at Stanford University,[2] acknowledges that time management is one of the toughest jobs that incoming students will face at the school.

That’s why young learners are advised to be realistic about their workload; to plan out their week to hit deadlines; prioritize their most important work; and pursue healthy eating and sleeping habits. Good advice for all of us!

Divide Up Your Work to Avoid Procrastination

At Columbia University[3], students are warned about the dangers of procrastination. There’s nothing worse than the overwhelming feeling that there’s too much work to do and not enough time to get it all done!

By dividing projects into a series of smaller projects, knocking out small tasks every day and sticking to a schedule, your child can steer clear of unproductive all-nighters and last-minute cramming.

See the Big Picture

Sometimes, with so many micro-tasks, assignments and other day-to-day minutiae in a student’s path, it’s tough to see the end goal. The Academic Resource Center at Duke University[4] advises students to “get the big picture” at the start of the school year. This includes:

  • Creating an overview of all classes and assignments. Make sure your child looks through all of the course material and understands how much work will be involved to successfully complete their studies. This alone can be a nice reality check.
  • Make a monthly planner. Notice that this is a common theme – plan, plan, plan. Duke recommends setting goals for each month (as well as each week).
  • Set realistic goals. Another popular recommendation. A realistic goal is completing a tough project over a period of two weeks. An unrealistic goal is waiting to knock it out over a weekend.
  • Plan to meet with instructors. This is particularly valuable for students and parents of students at online schools like Keystone, where instructor outreach must be initiated. Teachers and advisors want to help! Make sure your family uses them as resources.

Build on Your Successes, Don’t Dwell on Your Failures

According to the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth University,[5] dwelling on mistakes is a time-wasting activity. If your child gets a bad grade on an assignment, discuss it, make sure she learns from the mistake and then moves on. When your young learner does especially well, retrace the path she took and try to identify ways to relive that success.

Use All Seven Days of the Week

The MIT Center for Academic Excellence[6] recommends that when you and your child create an schoolwork schedule, use all seven days of the week. A little each day goes a long way, and helps to prevent procrastination.

Looking for a different kind of educational experience for your children?

Do you think your child would thrive in a freer, more flexible educational environment? Learn more about The Keystone School today.

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[1] “5 Protips for Time Management at Harvard” https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/hear-our-students/student-blog/5-protips-time-management-harvard

[2] “How Do I Manage My Time?” https://undergrad.stanford.edu/advising/student-guides/how-do-i-manage-my-time

[3] “Go Ask Alice: Time Management” http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/time-management

[4] “Effective Time Management,” https://arc.duke.edu/documents/Effective%20Time%20Management.pdf

[5] “Managing Time,” http://www.dartmouth.edu/~acskills/success/time.html

[6] “Time Management: Using Your Class Syllabus and Other Information to Build an Effective Semester Schedule” http://web.mit.edu/uaap/learning/time/schedule.html

How much Screen Time is Just Right for an Online Student?

happy young family wathching flat tv at modern home indoor

Is too much screen time a concern for online students?
We live in an age of amazing technological breakthroughs. Your mobile phone could probably replace a half-dozen devices around your home – if it hasn’t already.

This does mean, however, that you spend a lot of time absorbing information from screens – and so do your kids. When your child attends an online school, you may begin to wonder if your daughter or son is spending too much time staring at their devices.

The new reality

Your children love their own cell phones, video games, tablets, laptops, televisions and smart devices just as much as you do. It’s the world we live in, and there’s no going back.

“I think a lot of families have come to the conclusion that screen time is just a reality of life,” says Erica Rhone, head of school at The Keystone School. “It’s something that we all have to deal with.”

At the same time, Ms. Rhone notes that parents can take steps to make sure that their children are interacting with their world in different ways, as well. Keystone, for example, is an online private school that gives students the ability to print out assignments and scan in completed work for review by graders. Students are required to complete hands-on science lab work. Studying for various classes can be done away from the computer.

“It’s really important to have a schedule that builds in breaks” Ms. Rhone says. “Parents and teachers need to know how to appropriately schedule and build in downtime so that students can refocus when they get back to work. And by scheduling it in, not only does your brain get a rest, but your eyes also get a rest from the computer.”

A parent’s role

As a parent, you need to be honest with yourself: how do you feel about your child’s screen time? Do you think it’s an issue? Is it causing problems for you, your child or their peers?

“Technology can play a positive role in everyone’s lives, especially if it is something they’ve learned in school, or connecting with someone to fill a social need,” says Robbye Fox, a certified parenting instructor from Kensington, Maryland. “But parents first need a clear concept of why they are bothered with their kid’s involvement in technology. Bullying, plagiarizing homework, videogames to avoid homework, haven’t done the chores — these are some reasons why technology could be inhibiting home and school life.”

We’ve all read horror stories about what can happen when children are given free and unfettered online access. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be aware of not only how much time your child is spending in front of a screen, but what he or she is doing, too.

“The stakes get higher because what they can do with the inappropriate use,” Ms. Fox says. “Part of it is constant communications about it. There are some ways to monitor social media. For instance, when a kid turns 16 years old, we don’t just hand them the keys to the car. Many precautions are taken, laws and training and incremental steps are in place, because a car can take a life. So can the internet. Parents need to say ‘I love you too much to just hand you the keys and say have a nice drive.’ Even once they get the keys, we still keep an eye on how they drive and how they use the car.”
The solution is communication

Talk to your children about how they are using technology, and listen when they have questions or concerns of their own. As a family, you can set the bar for what is and is not acceptable.

“It’s important to work as a family to set limits about technology in a way that allows a dialogue,” Ms. Fox says. “Using language like ‘Here is my issue, here are my concerns about what’s going on’ and seeing where the conversation goes from there. My kids had frustrations about how WE as parents were using technology, and we would talk about that and try changing our behaviors too. Not all technology is bad.”

Is online education right for your family?

Do you think your child could thrive in a flexible educational environment? Learn more about The Keystone School today.

 

Looking Back to Move Forward

 

Looking Back to Move Forward

By Lisa McClure– Keystone Head of School

~Author Unknown

Moving forward in life is a full time job! For Keystone students, putting in the time needed to meet their course due dates, college application deadlines, and graduation dates can be daunting. As parents, we have goals for our children that require their full attention to meet. As teachers and school leaders there is always more to do to provide the best Keystone learning experience possible. Who has time to look back?

Who has time NOT to look back! Reviewing accomplishments builds our confidence to take on new challenges. Reflecting on mistakes keeps us humble and reminds us of things not to repeat. Looking at the big picture in retrospect helps us to refocus and realign our priorities with reality. Looking back is an essential part of making sure we are headed in the right direction.

Many of you have helped Keystone in the process of “looking back” by giving us feedback in webinars, by e-mail, in surveys, and over the phone. Sometimes that feedback is suggestions that come from a less than perfect Keystone experience. Other times it is a pat on the back for a Student Services or Admissions representative, or a teacher that has gone above and beyond. Without hearing from our students and parents we are only looking back through a very narrow lens, so your comments and suggestions are very helpful.

All of our academic departments will be taking a look back over some of the positive enhancements and changes that have grown out of our reflection and your feedback. While many of you are not following a traditional school year calendar, for Key-stone we are ending a fiscal year, and beginning a new one, as well as preparing for our busy enrollment season that begins in August.

It is the perfect time for reflection before we begin implementing even more new improvements in the coming year. This blog is one of the improvements to support better communication with families that we implemented this past year. Keystone Plus was re- vamped to provide even more targeted teacher feedback and interaction. The Keystone High School Handbook and policies were revised and updated. We instituted an Academic Review Committee to give a broader representation of academic voices in issues related to policy and academic integrity. We refocused attention on teacher support and feedback, along with many other smaller initiatives.

We are proud of our accomplishments at Keystone, even as we learn from things we could do better.

Thank you for your continued feedback and support!

Communication for Understanding

Communication for Understanding

Focusing on communication

By Lisa McClure– Keystone Head of School

It is generally accepted that good communication is important in all aspects of our lives. Clear communication becomes even more critical in a distance learning program, where we do not have the benefit of reading body language and facial expressions when communicating.

Clear communication is always a two-way street. At Keystone we work hard to make sure our communication is clear and straightforward. When there are questions or when we are not as clear as we thought, we rely on our customers to communicate back to us with questions and concerns.

I have personally adopted three rules for communication for myself. Check them out and see if they ring true for you as well.

1. Try not to react to a written communication. Emotion can get in the way of understanding. If a certain word or phrase triggers an emotional response, it needs to be processed before responding to the message. Waiting until later in the day to craft a response works best for me.

2. Check all written communication for bias and assumptions before sending it out. We all come from different educational and family backgrounds. My first re-action as a reader is to assume that the writer comes from my same experiences. Recognizing the likelihood that the reader does not share my experiences increases my level of clarity. This can help to reduce the likelihood of misunderstanding.

3. Pick up the phone and clarify issues rather than extending a string of e-mails that are not solving the problem. Too often it is easier to hit reply and make sure I am “heard” rather than making sure my response is moving an issue toward resolution.

I can pledge to you that Keystone teachers and staff have a passion for student success and will always try to communicate clearly with the goal of promoting understanding. When we miss the mark, it may be that we should have taken more time to craft a communication or given more consideration to a bias or assumption that may not be shared. We will continue to work on improving.

Let us partner with you as communicators working toward the success of your student. Keystone welcomes your communication!