Even before the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning was growing in popularity due to the flexibility it offered in allowing studying to be arranged around busy student schedules. However, since COVID-19, it has become mainstream with practically every student in Canada participating in online learning in one form or another. With the focus of the delivery of course content shifting from the school to the home, it has brought with it a number of challenges that had not existed before, the biggest of which is the appropriate level of parental support.
Whether a student is taking online courses to supplement their regular school course load, or they have a full-time online workload due to COVID-19, there are a number or roles parents can play in helping students make the most of the situation.
With students working online, the parent role becomes more immediate than otherwise would be the case. That’s not to say parents should become teachers, but rather parents should establish ground rules to help ensure student success.
Parents can help students in their online studies by creating a dedicated space within the home for learning as well as providing ongoing support and encouragement. As much as possible, the dedicated workspace should be a distinct space where the student goes to do their work, whether it’s a desk in their bedroom or a corner of the dining room table; it’s their classroom at home.
Living by Example
Students are quick to pick up on discrepancies in their parent’s behaviour in relation to parent’s expectations for them. That is to say, parents must be consistent in how they prioritize online learning time and any personal attention they offer when the student needs it. If parents are seen as being too busy or have other priorities, then students may see their work as less important. Parents must begin by setting a standard or parameters that students are able to work within, that reflects the importance of online learning, yet takes into account responsibilities parents may have to fulfill. Parents can do this by explaining what they have to do and when they will be available, the same way that teachers may organize “office hours” in schools.
Build a Routine
The importance of routine cannot be overestimated. Parents need to help the student build a study routine to bring structure to the student’s day, the same way a timetable brings structure to the day at school. With a study routine, both parents and students know which activity needs to be done, and how much time is available to do it. The study routine can be flexible, but there needs to be limits to ensure that other activities do not encroach on the online or offline study time.
It’s important that time be allocated for breaks, perhaps setting alarms that indicate the time for lunch or a recess to stretch their legs or take a break from the screen. When these breaks occur, students should be encouraged to get up and leave their screens to help them relax and recharge as they would if they were in school.
Keep in Touch with Teachers
Studying online for a long duration can create a sense of isolation for the student, so they should be encouraged to keep in touch with teachers and students in their online classes by asking questions and taking part in online discussions. Parents can also establish a connection with teachers to help support and reinforce the work students are doing. Parents can ask teachers questions about student progress to help identify difficulties the student may be having and how to best support them. The parent-teacher connection will also help quickly identify whether the student is keeping up to date with coursework and assignments, allowing support to be given before a problem gets out of hand.
Allow Children to Socialize
Socialization is very important in student development, and when students are working online, they are unable to socialize in the same way as they would in a traditional classroom setting. Students should be encouraged to learn how to socialize safely in the online environment. Parents should encourage them to interact with their friends via text messaging or video chat or even play games, providing it’s done in moderation. Student interaction is an important part of their social development and should be encouraged within the limitations of their study time and personal safety.
Make Time for Physical Activities
It is important to remember that a good education is more than just getting good grades, students must also be physically active to ensure that they are well balanced and healthy. When students are studying online, parents should engage them in physical activity by getting them away from their desks and giving them the opportunity to get involved in activities such as riding a bike, walking around the block, or perhaps involvement in organized sports. Physical activity breaks not only add interest and variety to the daily schedule but also helps students clear their minds and develop a sense of wellbeing.
Apex Academy Online Student - Parent Support
Apex Academy Online understands how important the courses are and encourages students and parents to maintain a dialog with its teachers and guidance counsellors to ensure that students are able to make the most of the opportunities available to them. In addition, Apex Academy Online teachers monitor the student’s activity on the Canvas Learning Platform and if there seems to be an issue, such as a lack of progress, they will contact the student and/or the parents to offer support as necessary.
Apex Academy Online offers opportunities for students to interact and socialize online through discussion boards and teacher-led video conferencing, helping to build a sense of community and a chance to share ideas.