If you’ve been thinking about enrolling your student in an online school, my daughter and I have some tips for you!  Nyomi was enrolled in Connections Academy for 7th grade and is currently finishing up her 1st semester of 9th grade with Connections as well.  Similar to K12 and other state-funded, online public schools, virtual schooling has its pros and cons.

online school

On this post, I bring her on board with me to help give some tips about surviving high school in online school. Watch the video for the full review!

Surviving Online School in High School

Be self-motivated

In high school, especially if it’s online, your student won’t have anyone standing over their shoulder telling them what to turn in and when.  They’ll be expected to follow the instructions of their instructor, read the syllabi, take their own notes, prepare for tests, and stay on top of their coursework…all on their own.

With a lot less hand-holding involved and less parental involvement (all I do really is mark her attendance and stand by for questions), your student really needs to be self-motivated.

If they need constant reminders, it will be easy for a student to fall behind on work.  One of the drawbacks of online school in a public school environment is that it’s so super easy to get behind.

Get up early

Nyomi found it much easier to stay on track with her subjects and getting them done if she gets up earlier in the mornings.  Those all-nighters don’t work out too well.  (How many of us remember cramming for finals in college?  How well did that work out?)

Getting up earlier just sets the pace for a smoother day.

Also, have your student plan to keep a planner.  If he gets up early and writes down all his subjects and assignments for the entire week, he’s more likely to keep track easier.

The planner has been a crucial part of Nyomi’s success in online school so far.  She usualy gets up early for morning devotionals, chores, a quiet breakfast and a quick social media break, and then she mentally prepares for what’s ahead.

If it’s going to be a long school day, getting up early helps take the load off because she knows she has a long stretch of time ahead of her to complete her work.

Reach out for help.

In online school, there is simply no way your student can get all the help she needs unless she reaches out to her instructors.  In a virtual environment, teachers simply cannot read their minds, so if they need extra help in math, they’ve got to email or call their teacher to book an appointment.

I think this is great preparation for college.  College instructors have office hours and in order to get extra help, you have to seek it out.

With our experience in online school, it’s the same.  Each of Nyomi’s teachers have virtual office hours that students can take advantage of.

Whenever she books an appointment, they can help her through a web interface like a video conference room and an interactive white board.  Also, class message boards can be helpful as well as special course links and extra resources each teacher provides for his class.

Get your work done quickly.

One other piece of advice Nyomi has is to get work done, and get it done quickly.

Putting the work off or stalling just makes it compile quickly, which can definitely make your student easily fall behind.

If your student can keep on track by getting work done quickly, it definitely helps.

Getting it done quickly means keeping a planner and streamlining.  Nyomi keeps a planner by Well Planned Gal for high schoolers.  Then she’s responsible for staying on track by making sure she doesn’t spend too long on any one subject.

Devoting only about an hour or hour and a half to each subject and getting her hardest subjects out of the way first has been a strategy that’s helped her to get her work done in a quicker fashion.  I’ll be real here too: her work load can range from 5 to 8 hours per day- so with online school, “quickly” sometimes just doesn’t exist.

But her main goal is to get each subject completed as quickly as possible in order to move on to the next.

Some challenges

Online school has its challenges, and exploring subjects in depth to your heart’s content is usually not an option as you go through a course that has been thoroughly laid out by a school. There is no flexibility there for parents or students, and subjects must be completed by the due dates and worked on each day in order not to fall behind.

Instructors are not always available when you need them, although they do respond generally within 24 hours. However a student may not be able to book the appointment until much later in the week…in which case, they would already be behind a few lessons if they wait around for help.

Another challenge, of course, is peer groups and making connections with others online.  It simply can’t replace a peer group that teens need during this time in their lives.

Lastly, the work load can be quite stressful to some kids.  With at minimum, 5 hour school days, and at maximum, 8-9 hours, it is very easy for kids to feel stress.

Will we stick with online school for high school?  Likely not. We’ll finish out this semester and see where the next leg of our journey takes us.

Nonetheless, I hope that using a few of those tips for surviving online school will help you if your student is planning to try out this method.

Let me know your thoughts! Also, I hope you’ll join my mailing list!

About Demetria Zinga

Demetria is a homeschooling mom and "mompreneur" who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, two daughters, and a Shih-Tzu. She currently runs two podcasts for moms, blogs, writes music, and spends lots of time at coffee shops. Her goal is to be an encourager and motivator of women, helping them to find success and joy in homeschooling, business, and motherhood.

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