Virtual Learning Tips for Parents

  • As many MPS families continue, their experience having their child attend school virtually –even parents with experience can use some fresh ideas to start the new school year. Here are proven tips from teachers and parents of virtual school students to help your child get ready!

    Have a designated area for school work.

    This is my personal tip since, as a virtual teacher, it is probably one of the most important things in order for me to be successful at my job every day. For students, having a designated area means fewer distractions and getting into a “school mindset” when in that area. This can be a spare room or even a corner in a room; the important thing is to use that area only for school. Other considerations include:

    Make sure this area is quiet or has a door that can be closed. This gives students privacy when they’re working, talking to their teachers, tutoring, completing DBAs, or taking an exam.

    Allow space for a desk or table, but incorporate flexible seating. This can be a cozy spot for reading or a change of pace during the school day. Beanbags, hammock chairs, shaggy rugs, and oversize pillows can help a student relax and take a break when reading, drawing, or using a device between classes or after a lengthy exam.

    Promote your student’s health. Ensure there is enough light for reading and taking notes. The monitor should be at eye level and the student’s chair must be comfortable and offer back support.

    Stock this area with school supplies! Include pens, pencils, markers, paper, notebooks, and any other tools your student may need besides the computer.

    Ensure you have the appropriate equipment.

    Some students think they can complete all their coursework from their smartphones, but this will not give the student the best experience. This isn’t to say you can’t use your smartphone occasionally (if you need to complete something on the go). But the best way to experience virtual school is on a desktop or Chromebook where you can view lessons full-screen. You’ll also need storage to save backup copies of your work!

    Create a set schedule with breaks built-in.

    You should think of your student’s schedule just like the bell schedule at a brick-and-mortar school. When the bell rings in a school, students automatically get up, pick up their books, and head on to their next class, right? You should plan your virtual school day the same way. Respect the schedule, and if needed, allow for an additional “period” at the end of the day to finish up any pending assignments. If your student completes all their work in the allotted time, this end-of-the-day period can be study time to get ahead in a class or work on a long-term project. Customize the schedule so that your student has more time for courses that take a bit longer to complete and less time for those courses they can complete faster.

    Create a calendar.

    Ask your child’s teacher how you can obtain a list of the assessments that are due every week.

    Post a weekly calendar on a dry-erase board conveniently placed near your child's work area. 

    Don’t forget about non-school activities!

    It is very important to note non-school activities on a student calendar, such as doctor appointments, after-school programs, holidays, and vacations, to avoid stressing about unfinished school work on those days. Sit down with your student once a week to go over his or her calendar and plan school days around those extracurricular activities. Use Google calendar and share the dates of doctor appointments and other events to the student's calendar.

    Get ready to enjoy the flexibility!

    If you help your child stay organized through the school year, you will be able to better enjoy the flexibility of virtual school. Occasionally visit your local library to study and enjoy the many programs libraries have to offer. Encourage your student to take time to volunteer at a local shelter or food pantry, visit a sick relative or go watch that new superhero movie during the afternoon. 

    Have fun with your student and remember to keep them motivated by providing incentives for reaching their weekly goals. Have a great virtual school year!