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:
- Make a learning plan and weekly schedule.
- Be flexible! Yes, children should be online 15-20 hours a week, but you can schedule field trips, physical education, art and music anytime.
- Make sure your children know how to ask good questions. Have them practice asking and writing questions.
- Have prayer and open learning discussion times throughout the day.
- 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.
- 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~
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.