HARRISBURG – Going back to school looks different this year. With fewer students heading back to their classrooms in traditional, brick-and-mortar schools and more logging in online and at home, many parents and students are feeling overwhelmed.
To ease the transition to the on-screen learning environment, Jane Swan, cyber education veteran and chief executive officer of Reach Cyber Charter School, is sharing her back-to-school tips for success in a virtual setting.
“Teachers and education professionals in both cyber and traditional schools agree that the education and well-being of our students are our top priorities,” said Swan.
“There is enough worry related to the uncertainty of this pandemic. We want to alleviate the concerns that some families may be feeling about traditional school curriculums continuing online.”
“As a true cyber school, we understand how students and teachers can best engage with one another for remote learning, and we’re happy to share some best practices that can benefit families,” she said.
Swan recommends the following tips and says more ideas and information can be found on a Web site built to help families and teachers transition to online learning:
- Create a designated, intentional space where students can take classes and where schoolwork is completed. Ideally, the space should be free from distractions and set up for online learning. This includes a specific workspace where your students can easily access their computer, notebooks, pencils, paper, textbooks and other school materials, just like they would in a traditional classroom.
- Organize learning in 30-50-minute blocks. Don’t try to do too much at once. Establish learning blocks for 30-50 minutes and take frequent breaks so students can stay focused. Students shouldn’t be on-screen for the same number of consecutive hours, as they were typically in a school building. Look for fun, off-screen activities where students can engage in hands-on games, crafts or play to break up the day. Use the last bit of summer and the cool days of fall to explore off-screen activities outdoors.
- Maximize the flexibility of virtual learning. You may notice that your child prefers to focus on math in the morning and science in the afternoon. This is a great benefit of taking classes online as the timing of coursework can be better tailored to children’s individual needs and peak times of focus. Lean into what works for your student.
- Ask your teacher(s) how they prefer to communicate. Teachers want to support and guide you, and they want your student to succeed. Don’t be shy about asking them how they prefer to communicate and what their expectations are for your child and their online learning experience this fall.
- Preview lessons and assignments. Check in with your students each day to see if they know what needs to be completed and understand what is being asked of them. Encourage your students to ask teachers for clarification and support when needed. At the end of the day, review and reflect as a family. See where you can make improvements together.
- Don’t miss live lessons. Live (online) lessons give students a chance to meet with their teacher and their classmates in real time —helping them to feel connected to their school community, while also engaging in their learning. It also allows students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, ask questions, or reinforce concepts they learned among their group of peers.
- Project a positive attitude and look to harmonize work + life + school balance. The stress of these times is not only weighing on parents and caregivers, but children too. Conveying a positive attitude to your child can help set a student up for success with learning and help build resiliency skills.
Reach Cyber Charter School is a Pennsylvania state-wide, tuition-free, online public charter school for students grades K-12. Reach Cyber is currently enrolling for the 2020-21 school year. Visit the enrollment page for more information about Reach Cyber or to begin the enrollment process.