Some students immediately flourish in a homeschool or online environment, but what happens when your student is struggling? Home-based learning can be challenging and rewarding, but it can take some students time to adjust. Although we might not have all the answers to these hurdles, here are a few tips for supporting your students through the bumpy times:
- Set a Schedule and Stick with It,
- Agree Upon Checkpoints and Rewards, and
- Provide Opportunities for Autonomy,
Set A Schedule & Stick With It
If your student is struggling, sometimes a little support will go a long way in helping them succeed. Sitting with your student and determining a schedule that they can agree to follow can give them both a feeling of control over their educational decisions as well as some needed structure. Your job as a parent is to hold them to this structure and support them as they navigate their education. Post the schedule everywhere: the refrigerator, an online calendar, on their bedroom door, and at their desk.
Support them further with reminders of what they are supposed to tackle each day. A simple post-it note of their daily tasks and a smiley-face of encouragement will help show your student that not only are you setting expectations for them that you intend for them to achieve, but you are there to encourage them along the way. There are a lot of apps that you can use to line up your child’s monthly, weekly, and daily tasks. You can set reminder dates and even get notifications when they check those tasks off their list and reply with encouragement and congratulations.
Agree Upon Checkpoints & Rewards
As much as we would like our students to be naturally motivated, this is often just not the reality at this stage in their brain’s development. In a brick-and-mortar school, students have these checkpoints naturally built into their school year. You can do the same thing when you’re setting up a schedule with your student. Determine some important checkpoints in their courses. Then you can do a countdown as a family for Checkpoints 1, 2, 3, and 4. Depending on the attention span and needs of your student, those checkpoints can be more or less frequent.
But don’t stop there. What motivates your child? No one knows this better than you do, so although you can encourage them along the way, even a small reward when they reach their checkpoints with success can motivate them. And the rewards do not have to break the bank. A school week in pajamas or a four-day weekend could do just the trick. Set realistic goals for your child along with these checkpoints and agree upon rewards that are equivalent in ambition to those goals. Whether it has to do with how much work they’ve accomplished or the quality of the work they’ve produced, some teens simply need more than verbal motivation to achieve their goals.
Provide Opportunities For Autonomy
While you’re providing your student with all the support you can give them, they need an opportunity for autonomy as well. One option that can really motivate your student is by allowing them to choose a few elective classes that will really spark their interest and love of learning. Excel Education Systems provides many unique elective courses through both Northgate Academy and Excel High School. Giving your student the independence to select some special classes that are tailored to their interests can help you develop a life-long learner.
Although you will be checking in on your student daily and helping them succeed with a schedule, allowing them to have a voice in that schedule will give them the independence they crave. Give them options about where and when they will complete their studies. On the front porch or a corner in the basement, whatever spot helps them soar is the best spot for their learning.
Schedule healthy breaks and give them the chance to experiment with the timing of their studies. Is your student a morning person? Do they like to knock out their work before the break of dawn and then have the rest of the day to explore interests on their own? Or is your child a night owl who only seems to really perk up around noon? Maybe your student would prefer to work on school for longer amounts of time four days a week and then take a break midweek or enjoy long weekends. The beauty of home-based learning is that you and your child have the flexibility to arrange the school day around your child’s needs.
You know your child better than anyone else, so the flexibility that home-based learning provides you allows you to experiment with what works best for them. Whether they need less support or more, you have the opportunity to specially tailor their schedule, their rewards, and their level of independence. The best news is that, unlike in a classroom overflowing with students, the person making these decisions is you, the adult who cares the most about their future success.
Are you currently exploring curriculum options for your children online? At Northgate Academy, we strive to provide the best educational material to our students to ensure their success. Get in touch here or give us a call at (800)339-7132 to learn more today!