If you’re choosing to supplement your homeschooling routine with online learning or researching a fully-online program for your child, you know that there are thousands of options to choose from. Online learning just keeps growing with more interesting, varied, and fun ways to learn with constantly evolving technology. Long gone are the days of rote memorization, multiplication charts, monotone lectures about history, and one-dimensional hand-drawn pictures of other places and cultures. The world of learning has been broken wide open with online school programs and all that they have to offer. Today, you’ve got a whole new virtual world to choose from full of videos, apps, games, quizzes, interactive learning, and so much more…accessible anytime from anywhere you have an internet connection.
But, why should you consider online learning and how can you make it a success? Which program is right for your child and how do you find it? From immediate feedback to colorful lessons and videos that keep your child engaged, online learning can create the atmosphere and environment that your child needs to reach their full academic potential.
Follow these simple tips to ensure your online homeschool adventure is as successful as possible while the keeping your unique child engaged and eager to learn.
1. Find the right fit. Choose a homeschool program that fits your child’s needs, interests, and learning style. Online learning has many options, and what you are drawn to might not fit your child. Start by first finding out how your child learns best in order to select the right program. Incorporating your child’s learning style is critical. If your child is a kinesthetic learner, this could mean using hands-on manipulatives during math and project-based assessments for social studies. If you’re not sure where to start, take this learning style assessment.
Online homeschooling should be engaging and set your child up for success. Make sure that the program you choose is of high quality, with video lessons, note-taking guides, and immediate feedback and assessments.
2. Accreditation matters. Make sure your online homeschool program is accredited! Why is accreditation important? Because there are tons of online learning communities and programs to choose from, but not all are created equal. No one wants to purchase a product that doesn’t do what it claims. And, when it comes to your child’s education, the stakes couldn’t be higher. An accredited institution has chosen to open themselves up to a third-party review process in every part of their program, from admissions to finance to grade reporting. With accreditation, you can be sure that your homeschool partner is backing up what they claim.
3. Put learning into action. Let’s face it, nothing kills excitement and crushes inspiration like boredom. If you want to see your child thrive with online learning, they can’t sit in front of a computer all day. Encourage breaks from online learning using outings, textbooks, and hands-on projects to keep your child engaged and thriving. Changing up how your child learns also encourages natural breaks and gives you time to assess how they’re doing.
A good online program uses a variety of media to keep your student engaged and ready to learn, including video lessons, online quizzes and tests, project-based learning, and note-taking guides. A variety of online resources as well as hands-on or printable learning tools are critical to break up the day and accommodate various learning styles. If the online program you’re using doesn’t allow for work away from a computer, it’s time to make a change.
4. Set the schedule that works for you. The internet is everywhere and 24/7, so why can’t you do school anywhere and anytime you need to? The truth is, with some programs you can’t. Many online programs require you to log in at certain times, log certain hours, and follow a traditional school calendar. Don’t limit yourself or your child in this way; you have options!
Online learning should be as flexible as your schedule and child needs. Your elite athlete might need to be in the gym all day and do school at night. Your mover and shaker might work better in the afternoons after getting the outside time and exercise he needs. The best online program for your child is one that is ready and waiting for them when they are ready to learn.
5. Find accountability and support. The most successful online programs ensure your child is meeting requirements with accurate and real-time reporting and should provide you with help around the clock. This means you should be able to log in and view your child’s progress at any time or speak with someone to get your questions answered, giving you the confidence and knowledge that your child is progressing. Evaluating progress regularly is key to ensuring that your online program is meeting your child’s needs and that your child is mastering the concepts.
Homeschooling is a challenge, and you shouldn’t have to shoulder the load all by yourself. A good online program will also provide a high level of support via an online advisor or tutor. Many online programs require you to “go it alone,” leaving the bulk of the responsibility and pressure on your shoulders. But there are alternatives! The best online programs include a live person willing to answer your questions and make sure your child reaches his or her full potential. Don’t settle for less! Find an accredited online program that supports your child.
Your children deserve every opportunity and chance they can get to succeed in online learning. But finding the right provider can be a challenge and can often leave you feeling overwhelmed and questioning your choice. Keep these tips at the forefront of your mind as you select an online learning provider, and we know you’ll find the experience to be much richer and more successful!
Originally posted 09/09/2014, updated 05/12/2020