Making Mistakes Well

I often find myself telling my students that one of the most important things that they can learn in school is how to make mistakes well. At first, this might seem a little counter-intuitive—Really, Miss G? Mistakes?

The truth is that no matter how hard we try, we are all going to make mistakes and errors from time-to-time…even teachers do! Knowing how to learn from one’s mistakes and how to deal with setbacks without being paralyzed can be incredibly difficult, but it is a valuable life skill.

I’ve noticed in the past few years that more and more students seem to struggle with anxiety or anxious thoughts, and feel very overwhelmed when they don’t score well on a multiple choice test, or when they have to make revisions on an essay, or perhaps they have fallen behind. Sometimes, there’s a tendency to avoid the work entirely, something that usually compounds the problem. Instead, we try to help students work through mistakes and setbacks, hopefully allowing them to see these as opportunities for growth.

Here are some tips that can help you “make mistakes well”:

  1. Reframe. When a student sees a poor grade on an assignment, their first instinct is often, “I’m stupid, I don’t get this and never will.” This is especially common on multiple-choice tests, and can lead to a feeling of defeat.At CEA, we try to encourage students to remember that a quiz or test grade is only one measure of learning, and not always the best one. A low grade only means that there is some gap in understanding—it’s just a matter of finding the gap and helping students to bridge it! 🙂 Since we are a mastery-based program, this is a key goal for us as teachers. We work with students to revise work to help put the focus on real learning and not just a test score. We also try to have different types of assessments, such as projects or essays in addition to multiple-choice tests, so that students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.
  2. Review and Revise. When a mistake is made, it’s important to figure out exactly what happened in order to prevent making that error in the future. Finding past mistakes and fixing them can help solidify a deeper understanding of concepts.At CEA, we help students with this process in a few different ways. With math assignments, we often ask to see “scratch work”, so that we can help students figure out where the mistake is. Sometimes, it might just be a small error that threw off the final answer! We also try to encourage students to practice this skill by checking their own work and hopefully catching errors before they submit things! In other classes, it might be a matter of making notes on an assignment or helping students address concepts they need to learn a little more fully.

    This is also a practice we constantly engage in ourselves. Every year as a school, we look at survey data and other feedback; then we make goals to constantly improve what we do as a school. The ability to look at one’s work and find ways to continuously grow is a valuable life skill that can be applied in multiple contexts.

  3. Regain Confidence. The final key is remembering that none of us is perfect. Making a mistake or error from time to time is inevitable. The goal is to not allow our mistakes to paralyze us, but to figure out how to address the error and move forward confidently. Our goal is to support students in this process, and to be a resource for them to help them grow and learn both content and important life skills.

Planning Your Weekly Schedule in an Online High School

One of the beauties of an online high school – or middle school – is that your weekly schedule of when you take courses is your own to plan.  But how exactly do you do that?  Here are some hints…

Set up your weekly plan

At the beginning of the semester, create a master weekly plan for yourself.  Block out the times  when you will study each course.  This could be different for each student, depending on their study habits.  Here are some possible ideas:

  • Every course every day: English 8 – 9, Math 9-10, Break, Science 10:30-11:30, Lunch, Social Studies 1-2, Electives 2-3
  • A different course each day:  Monday – English, Tuesday – Math, Wednesday- Science, Thursday – Social Studies, Friday – Electives
  • A half-day block schedule: Monday AM – English, PM- Math, Tuesday AM-Social Studies, PM – Science

Whatever plan you set-up, stick to it, treating your schoolwork just as you would any job.  Consistency and discipline are important.  If the student has trouble doing this, ask a parent or your homeroom teacher for help.

Set up your weekly plan

Before the beginning of each week, look at all your courses to see what assignments are due.  Christian Educators Academy sends each student a weekly planner.  The student and/or parent can use this to write down when assignments are due.  Remember, the rule is that assignments can be turned in any time in the week that they are due and still be on time.  Assignment due dates can be moved from Monday to Friday, or Thursday to Tuesday, without having to ask anyone’s permission.  This gives students and parents the freedom to work according to the weekly master schedule mentioned above.  At the end of each week, review your progress with your parent, to see where you are, and if you need to make any adjustments.

Work Ahead if You Can

If you find that you are able to finish a subject well within the allotted time, work ahead on the next lesson if you can.  This can be useful to buy a little time if you find that you are later falling behind in that subject or another subject.

If You Fall Behind…

It’s perfectly natural if occasionally there are one or two assignments that you have to leave to the next week, or else complete the following week.  If you’re ahead in a subject, you can borrow time from that subject for another subject that you’re falling behind in.  If you fall a week behind in all your subjects, especially if its due to a vacation or sickness, you can still easily catch-up by working a little harder – but at this point you have to work hard to catch up and not fall further behind.

If you find that you are working incredibly long hours in all your subjects, but still falling behind, that is a different problem we will talk about in a future blog.  But please let your home-room teacher or one of the other school administrators know right away if this is happening.

If you do get more than two weeks behind, there are ways to catch up as we mentioned in an earlier blog.  It takes planning and some discipline, but it can be done.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to always stay up to pace with the calendar.  Allowing yourself to slip off the calendar and ignore it is dangerous.  Even if initially you’re only a week or two behind, it is very easy to slip even further behind.

Know Your Priorities

Remember that English and Math always have the highest priority, since you need four years of each to graduate from High School.  Remember that whatever English class you’re in basically determines your grade.  Science and Social Studies are the second priority after Language and Math.  Electives and Foreign Language are the lowest priority.  If you find that you are getting behind in English or Math, you may have to re-balance your schedule to give more time to them, and less to the other subjects.

Don’t try to do just one subject at a time

Just focusing on one subject at a time quickly turns into a game of “Whack-a-mole”, where you’re always behind in something.  In general we recommend that students try to work in all subjects every week, but balance their time between subjects based on their strengths and weaknesses.  It’s OK to allocate a little more time to a subject that has higher priority or that you are struggling in, and a little less time to a subject that is easy for you, or that you are ahead in.

Of course, if you do get seriously behind in all subjects and are in danger of not completing any of them, your home-room teacher may recommend that you focus on just English and Math for a while.  Our goal is that none of our students get to this point.

Enjoy your success!

By properly setting up and managing your course schedule, you will find that you can easily complete your courses on time, with good grades, and have time during the week to do the other things outside of school that you value and enjoy.  More importantly, you will learn how to successfully manage your time, a skill which will be useful to you throughout your life in every endeavor.

Online Homeschooling – More Than One Child

As an administrator, I often receive calls with families with 3 or more children for online homeschooling.  It is important to consider that most children have vastly different learning styles, learning pace and attention spans.  Because of this, CEA recommends online homeschooling as an option for students in 6th through 12th grade.  We have a few advanced 5th graders who adjust quite well to the structure of online classes.

For most families, the challenge isn’t the curriculum, its finding the best way to manage online learning.  There is no perfect way to work with online curriculum but it is vital to have a schedule.  When working with more than one child, it is critical to have a space and place for each child.  They need their own computer, access to a quality scanner and printer, and set schedules to work.  At CEA, we also recommend setting certain days for each subject, that way, all children will be working on math, or English, etc…  This helps with interaction among siblings.  Often times they can help each other.

Online differs from regular homeschooling because most communication with teachers is via email.  Sometimes when questions are asked, it takes 24 hours to receive a response.  I find it a positive point with online, however, because children have to logically think about the question they are asking.  Sometimes when they formulate their question in the form of an email, they answer their own question.  Verbalizing their questions to other family members also helps then work more efficiently.

Here are my online homeschool suggestions:

  1. Make a learning plan and weekly schedule.
  2. Be flexible! Yes, children should be online 15-20 hours a week, but you can schedule field trips, physical education, art and music anytime.
  3. Make sure your children know how to ask good questions. Have them practice asking and writing questions.
  4. Have prayer and open learning discussion times throughout the day.
  5. Maintain a positive attitude. Work with the teachers.  Often there are other resources that can really help your children.  At CEA we offer substitute or additional lessons for students who need extra help.
  6. Work with your children, be a good coach, don’t just leave them on their own. Know how their online program works, have access to their ID and Passwords.  View what the teachers are communicating to your children, and what they are saying to their teachers.  With online schooling, some children need extra coaching from a parent, encouragement when they having a “melt down.”  It’s ok to stop working and engage your child in something they like, or move to a different subject.  Be creative~
  7. At CEA, we have specific homeroom teachers that will keep in contact with you, the parent. In addition, as a small school, you can call for questions Monday through Friday.  Keep informed and don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself!
  8. Have your children keep a notebook and a personal journal. Encourage them to make their own schedule choices and learn the art of scheduling and discipline of online learning.  It is a skill that will help them throughout their life.
  9. Be sure to let “kids be kids”, no matter what their age. They need time to relax, burn off extra energy and begin online again with a clear head.  At CEA we encourage start and end times for learning.
  10. There are many online homeschooling options to choose from. Choose one that will best fit your families’ needs, one that fully accredited, and gives you the most flexibility. Ask for multiple children discounts.

Online High School: Hints for planning the upcoming Spring Semester

You’ve made it through the Fall term of your online high school, and are now at the beginning of a new term.  Here are some helpful hints and guidelines to try to help you get through the upcoming Spring Semester.

First, realize that not all weeks are created equally.  Later in the Spring as the weather gets nicer, maintaining concentration and focus on school can be difficult for many people.  Take advantage of the upcoming winter weeks and months – when the weather is cold and you are less inclined to want to go out.  Take advantage of these weeks to get ahead in your schooling.  This way you can have a little more time when you want it.  Online school is ideal for this, because you can always work ahead of the schedule.  With online school, you are in control of the schedule; use that to your advantage.

Also be aware that many people have a hard time working before, during and after a Spring Break, either preparing to go, being away, or getting back into the swing of things.  It’s just human nature.  This is another reason – try to get as much done as you can now.  If you get behind now, it will be even more difficult to catch up over Spring Break, or as the weather becomes more pleasant.

Of course, we do advise people to develop consistency and discipline in their school work.  Develop a weekly schedule and be consistent in sticking to it.  Make sure you allocate time to all your courses every week, approximately 2-3 hours per course.  Math and English should always get the highest priority, followed by Science and History, then Language and electives.  If you do get behind, in general we don’t advise that you concentrate on just one or two subjects, ignoring all the others.  This tends to create a situation where you are constantly behind in something, or everything.  Increase the overall time you spend, allocating more to the higher priority subjects, as needed, but continuing to work in all the subjects.

If you do get behind in your assignments, create a plan to catch up in a reasonable amount of time – over several weeks.  We don’t expect you to exert super-human efforts to catch up.  Here is an example of a plan:

  • In each course, count the total number of overdue assignments, and divide that by 10.  So for example, if you have 30 overdue assignments in English, 30/10 = 3.
  • Each week, count the number of assignments that were due on the calendar that week.  Complete that many assignments from the front of your list, plus the number above.  So this week, if there were 5 assignments due, you would need to complete 5+3 = 8.
  • Doing this consistently, after 10 weeks, you will be caught up in English!  You will have to expend some extra effort to catch up – you might have to spend 5 hours instead of 3.  If you are behind in all your courses, you might have to work 25-30 hours a week to catch up instead of 20, maybe an extra hour or two a day.  The point is, this is reasonable.

Or course, it’s better to not get behind in the first place.  At CEA, we constantly monitor all student’s progress, and contact the student and parent as soon as we see that happening.  Of course, by the time a student gets two weeks behind, and we see that and contact you, the student could be 3 weeks to a month behind.  Here is how to avoid that:

  • If you’re a student and know you struggle with staying on pace, ask a parent to objectively look over and review your progress on a regular basis – typically once a week.  Ask them to log into your account and look over your assignments.
  • If you’re a parent, make it a disciplined habit to log into your student’s account and look over their progress once a week.  See if they are falling behind.  It’s also good of course to ask them how they are doing – but don’t rely on this solely.  Students often don’t realize they are behind, and some will misrepresent their progress.
  • If you’re an Apex student or parent, you will receive a progress report every week.  Read it.

If you need help understanding an Apex report or using the Gradpoint system, contact one of the administrators at CEA – we will be glad to walk you through how to use the tools that are available to you.

By following a disciplined plan, working ahead a bit and regular monitoring of your progress, you should be able to complete all your subjects on time, with no issues.  If you do get behind, there are ways to catch up.  It’s not the end of the world, but you should avoid this situation if you can.

Online home schooling and the holidays

Online Home schooling and the Holidays

This is the time of year when students and parents ask us about working over the holidays.  Leading up to this, some students have gotten seriously behind in multiple classes, with perhaps 20 or more assignments overdue in some classes.  This year we instituted a new Homeroom process to warn students and parents right away when there is a problem.  This has greatly reduced incidents, and has greatly helped to mitigate the issue in most cases long before the Holidays arrive, but still there are a few cases of behind students.

What we find is that students and parents tend to over-focus on the Holidays as a solution to the problem of having over-due assignments.  A typical semester-long high school course is designed to be done over an 18-week period, with a moderate amount of effort, 3 hours or so, every week.  Although people commonly think that “I’ll catch up over Thanksgiving, or the Holidays”, really we are just talking about a few days, or maybe a week or two, that is also being used for traveling, shopping, special meals, family events, other activities and perhaps worship services.   The time that is really available for doing schoolwork may only be a few hours or a couple of days.

To make an analogy, if we think of the normal pace as say, walking a mile in an hour, which for many people is quite reasonable, trying to compress a month or two of work into a few days is the same pace a as 4- or 6-minute mile.  Most students simply do not have the ability to successfully work at that pace.

Another way to look at it is that the 4 days of Thanksgiving is really just 3% of an 18-week semester and even the two weeks at Christmas is just 11% of an 18-week semester.  Parents and students who think that they will complete 25% or more of a course during that time are not being realistic.  The other problem is over-focus on Holiday periods as the end-all solution to the problem.  Parents and students don’t effectively use the 18 or 20 weeks already built into the school schedule, and instead hyper-focus on the really small amount of time that the Holidays represent.

Everyone needs some time away from work and school to relax and have fun, relate to family and friends and to reflect.  Weekends and holidays exist for a reason.  The best and healthiest approach to life acknowledges and incorporates periods of rest, with the understanding that these are necessary for the health of the individual, and also help us to improve our effectivity and performance when we do work.

Although Christian Educators allows Gradpoint students to work over the holidays, we don’t strongly advise it, and we don’t push it.  If a student has some extra time on their hands and they want to use it for school, fine, but not at the expense of spending time with family or having time relax and enjoy life.  On the other hand, with our Apex curriculum because it involves teacher involvement on a weekly basis, in order to allow our teachers a break to spend time with their families, we have to stop all access to the curriculum for a two week period at Christmas, and a 3 week period in July.  Every year we receive requests from parents to grant “special” access for their child.  Unfortunately, in Apex, without continuous teacher support, students can’t progress.  Having even a few students working means that teachers get no break, and this is simply unfair to the teachers.  For that reason, we do not allow access to anyone in Apex over that period.  And even though we clearly stipulate that in our contracts and communications, every year we inevitably get requests from parents for exceptions.

The real answer for students who are running behind is to help them figure out how to use the time they do have more effectively – whether it be looking at overcoming motivational issues, working on skills like study habits, note-taking, test-taking and time-management.  By learning how to use the time more effectively in the 18 weeks per semester that they do have, we can increase student performance to a much greater degree with much less effort than focusing on a few days or hours.

Parenting on Online Homeschool Student – Taking An Active Role

Parenting on Online Homeschool Student - Taking An Active RoleIf you have chosen an online homeschool for your child, you have chosen one of the newest, most innovative ways to educate your child.  Online homeschooling offers many benefits – the ability to do school at home, the flexibility to work on your own schedule and at your own pace, control over your child’s education.  In addition, if you have chosen a good program, your child has professional teachers, the school handles the administrative tasks and keeps you informed of your child’s progress, and you are in a properly accredited program – one that will be recognized by colleges and universities around the country when your child graduates.

Of course, if you are the parent of an online homeschool child, you still need to take an active role in your child’s teaching.  With an online homeschool program, it is true that you no longer have the day-to-day burdens of teaching and grading.  However, you still play a crucial role in your child’s development.   Raising your child will always be your responsibility – a responsibility that you cannot pass others or expect them to do on your behalf.  So how do you define your role and balance it with the online school along with the other resources you have brought into your childs life?

A good model is to think of all the resources as a team, with you at the center as the head coach and director.  Those resources include the online school, other activities and clubs your child participates in such as sports, arts, dance or music, your local church and youth group, your childs friends, and the community you live in.  Each resource plays a role in your child’s development, and contributes value in different areas.  You guide, direct and orchestrate the overall process, looking for areas where there are unmet needs, and making changes and adjustments to address new needs which are uncovered as you go along.

The primary job of an online school – as with any school – is to ensure that your child’s academic needs are met.  That he or she learns algebra, chemistry and how to write a good essay.  That he or she has enough of the right credits to graduate in four years.  That provides good learning opportunities and does everything to help your child succeed academically, that he or she has a good transcript that will help him or her get into the right college.  To identify your child’s talents, to give direction in areas of strength, and assistance in areas of weakness.  To encourage and motivate your child.

Encouragement and motivation are areas where your responsibilities and those of the online school begin to overlap.  Every school – online or not – has the responsibility to ensure it is providing an environment that is encouraging and motivating to students – that it is not intentionally or unintentionally doing things to discourage or demotivate its students.  On the other hand, schools also have a responsibility at times to challenge students to do better, to hold them to a high standard, and to encourage them to be responsible for their work.

There are certain things that an online school can not do.  For example, we can detect if your child is struggling, not spending enough time, or not logging in.  We can alert your student and you to the problem with e-mails, letters and phone-calls.  We can offer help and assistance.  However we cannot make your child log-in or do their work.  We can offer encouragement, but ultimately your child is the one who decides if they will work.  We can identify good and bad decisions, and let you know what the consequences will be, but we cannot make those decisions for you and your child.  Ultimately, each person bears the consequences of the decisions he or she makes – the principle of sowing and reaping.

This is why your role as a parent is so crucial.  At 13 or 14, your child cannot see the consequences of the decisions he or she makes now, but you can.  By putting a proper framework in place, you try to help guide your child into the right decisions, and into developing good habits.  And this is why it is so important that you take an active role in your child’s development – even if they are in an online school – in fact especially if they are in an online school.  If you were homeschooling in the past, an online school frees up your time and energy immensely by taking the burdens of teaching and administration away from you.  This frees up your time so that you can do the things that only you as a parent can do – the things that are most important.

As your child’s parent, you understand them the best of anyone.  You know how they “tick”, what motivates and de-motivates them.  What things they gravitate to, and what things they avoid.  Until they marry, no one will understand your child as well as you do.

So, stay active in your child’s online school education.  You may have to work, or have other responsibilities and obligations pulling you away.  But find time to stay engaged and involved in your child’s life.  Don’t be an absentee parent.  Don’t try to delegate your responsibilities to others.  More on how to stay involved in future articles.

Online High School Time Management

Setting up a regular review process…
Bill Zabor, MSEE/BSEE/MBA, Business Manager at CEA.

An online high school program has offers tremendous benefits and flexibility for students with serious outside commitments, such as sports, music, drama and dance.  Even for students who are just working part-time or have a hobby they want to actively pursue, being able to set their own schedule is a tremendous advantage.   With online high school time management is an important thing for students to  recognize.

However with the wonderful freedom that online education offers, there also comes added responsibilities.  Students have to set up a schedule and stick to it.  Some students excel at this naturally, while others still need a little help from mom and dad or their teachers.  As the parent of an online student, what can you do to ensure that your young adult is successful?  Here are some helpful suggestions.

If your student is transitioning to online from another venue – public school, private school or homeschool – recognize that online is a different environment, and that it is a transition.  It is different from other venues, and there may be an adjustment process.   Understanding that is one thing, successfully managing the transition is another.  For the first semester, monitor your student closely to see how they are doing.  At Christian Educators Academy, we recommend that students put in at least 2.5 hours per course, or 15 hours total, per week.  Make sure they are putting in the necessary learning time; that they are staying reasonably current to their schedule, and that they are not having any issues.  For a students who are new to online, avoid the temptation to load up on heavy classes or take-on a super challenging workload the first semester.  Make sure they are comfortable with the transition and are reasonably proficient at managing their schedule and responsibilities first.

Once your student has successfully made the transition to online, match the intensity of the monitoring process to the student.  The secret here is to know your child.  Some students manage their responsibilities and schedule extremely well with little outside aid.  Other students need some support, some students need lots of support.  Match the level of support to their needs, and allow it to lessen over time as they progress.  Recognize that responsibilities and online high school time management are their own separate skills, independent from academics.  A person can be an A-student and still need help with time management and self-discipline.  A person who has done well in a traditional school environment may need time and support to successfully handle the added responsibilities that come with an online setting.

The best way to teach your children responsibility and online high school time management is to model it by doing it yourself, and monitoring their online progress is a great venue for demonstrating this.  Set up a regular time every week when you sit down with them and go over their progress.  It doesn’t have to take long – 5 or 10 minutes can suffice – or be onerous.  Be objective and follow the same procedure every week.

At Christian Educators Academy, we believe that a good monitoring program consists of 3 parts.  The first part is objective data gathering – looking at reports such as actual time spent in lessons, progress against the calendar.  The purpose of this is to give you an accurate, un-biased indicator of where your student actually is.   The second part is asking your student how they are doing – this gives the “soft side” of the story and is useful for identifying motivational or behavioral issues that need to be addressed.  The third part is your own observations from time to time of how your student is doing.   From time to time, check up on your student, see if they are indeed working when they supposed to be.  Make sure they are actually in their lessons, and not just spending time online.

Online Homeschooling Success & The Parents Role

There are many ways that parents can help a child succeed when enrolled online homeschooling. From providing the appropriate equipment, to ensuring proper time and space for the child to finish assignments, to following up with instructors to be sure the child is on the right track and completing lessons in a timely manner, parent play a crucial part in their child’s online homeschooling success.

Once parents have made the important decision to enroll their child in online homeschooling, one of the first steps is to be sure that the child has access to a high speed online connection and a computer or laptop that is in good working order. Because all of the assignments are done online, this is a basic but important part of the online homeschooling equation. Doing research, watching videos, and participating in online chat sessions with instructors and fellow students can be both difficult and frustrating if the connection is slow or if the computer equipment is not working properly.

Another important role parents play in online homeschooling is ensuring that the child has allotted adequate time to complete assignments by their due dates and that the child has a good, clean, well-lit workspace to do the assignments in. One of the benefits of online homeschooling is having a flexible schedule so children can experience life besides just sitting in front of a computer, but most children also benefit from having some structure, and studies have shown that many children learn and retain information better if they are doing it in a structured, repeatable location and method. Routines also help children learn self-discipline and give them a sense of security. The self-discipline and feeling of security learned during online homeschooling are important traits that most children will retain into adulthood.

While allowing children to develop and learn at their own pace is one of the benefits of online homeschooling, it is also important for parents to communicate with both instructors and child to be sure that the child is progressing through their lessons at the appropriate pace. By checking in with their child’s instructors regularly, parents can be notified if their child needs extra help with a certain area or subject, or if a particular type of task needs more practice. In addition, instructors can let parents know when a child excels in a specific area, so parents can encourage their child to develop skills or talents that they may not have focused on before.

While online homeschooling can allow many freedoms that traditional schooling may not afford, it is important for parents to still be active and involved in their children’s lives. By providing the appropriate technology, ensuring proper time and space to complete lessons and assignments, and keeping lines of communication open between the instructors and the child, parents can play a crucial role in their child’s online homeschooling success.

Time Management in an Online Highschool Environment – Part 1 – The Challenge

Online high school programs offer tremendous advantages – flexibility, the ability to work at home and at your own pace, and portability – the ability to carry your school with you wherever you go.  One of the challenges that many students face in an online environment is managing their schedules and completing their work in a timely manner.  This particularly affects students who are coming out of a traditional public or private school environment.  While getting rid of the scheduling requirements associated with a traditional school can be enormously freeing, it also creates a whole new set of responsibilities that can take some time to master.

This is not a bad problem to have.   Every adult is expected to be responsible for their own schedule, and mastery of this skill is key to advancement and promotion in every profession.  An online high school program gives students additional opportunities to truly master this skill.  While there is some extra work and effort involved, it does pay off in the end.

Many parents and students in traditional schools don’t realize just how much they rely on the external support provided through the school – hard, fixed deadlines for all assignments and constant reminders of them every time you walk into class, and how big the gap is when those external supports are not there.  In an online school where you can work at your own pace, there are no hard fixed deadlines.  There are no reminders announced in class, or posted on the whiteboard.  There are reminders, but it’s much easier to ignore them, just put them off to the side, or hit the delete button.

What many students and parents also do not realize is that the amount of work in an online school is the same as that in a traditional school.  Course requirements are set by national standards that all schools have to comply with.  A typical high school week consists of about 25-30 hours of instruction (5 six-hour days), and an online high school requires the same amount of time.  Online schools allow students to work on their own schedule and pace; they do not however reduce the workload required to graduate.

Learning to effectively manage time in an online school environment is a necessary skill that every online student has to master.  In the next article in this series, we will cover some techniques that can easily be applied to help students master this skill.

What you need to be successful with an online high school.

If you are considering online high school for yourself, or your son or daughter, here is what you need to be prepared…

  • A quiet place to work that is free from distractions, such as TV, loud machinery, etc…
  • A PC or laptop, Internet access, and a printer/scanner.
  • Self-motivation.  This is probably the biggest factor.  You (or your student) needs to be able to motivate themselves to log-in and work on a regular basis.  You should plan on spending 18-20 hours per week, or 4-5 hours per day, on your courses.  If you plan to take AP or honors courses, you should plan on spending up to 30 hours per week on schoolwork.  The benefit of online schooling is that once you have put in the time (and completed the required lessons), the rest of the day is yours to spend on other productive activities.
  • Monitoring/guidance.  As a parent, don’t expect you can just take your hands off and everything will work out.  As with any school, you need to remain actively involved, at the proper level.  That means checking in once a week or so with your son or daughter to see how they are doing.  Have they spent enough time in school?  Are they staying on task and completing the curriculum at a reasonable pace?  Are there any signs that they are getting distracted, not doing the work, or doing other things on the computer?
  • A sense of purpose.  What are you hoping to accomplish when you complete your diploma?  What do you hope to do after you graduate?  Think here not just about academics and the end-results, but non-academics and the accomplishments that you will achieve along the way.  What activities, goals and milestones do you look forward to completing while you are in school?  Setting goals and objectives and achieving them will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to keep going.