How Much Help Should I Give My Online Student?
You have signed your child up for an online class. You’re both excited. Visions of outsourcing and having less items on your ever-growing “to do” list begin to dance in your head. But wait! How much help is your student going to need? How much help should you be giving? Should you be checking and editing every assignment? Reminding your kiddo to do their homework? Emailing the teacher for him/her?
Some Guidelines on Helping Your Child:
Ultimately, you know your student the best and what he/she needs. However, the following general guidelines may help you both adjust to the online environment and create habits for success. Your child’s online class should not feel like you’re teaching it yourself – it should be less work for you as the parent, not more!
Elementary/Young Learner Students:
Elementary students in our Young Learner Classes are usually stepping into online learning for the very first time. Teachers know this! We expect and prepare for a few technological faux pas. Young classes make heavy use of the microphone so that those learning to type can keep up and don’t feel overwhelmed. The other beautiful thing about these young classes is that all homework is optional. That means it’s really, truly, absolutely ok if your child doesn’t complete it.
Now, with that said, how much assistance should you expect to give your student? During the first class or two, planning to sit next to your child to assist as he/she acclimates to the online classroom environment and learns to manage the technology is both helpful and appreciated. After that, however, it won’t be long until your child should be mostly independent. Again, it’s up to you how much homework you want your child to complete and how “hands on” you choose to be for that homework, but it should still feel like a break for you instead of hours of time you need to fit into your week. Helping students plan regular homework time into their schedule and learning to look on the class pages for what that assignment is should make the process fairly simple and low-maintenance for you both!
Middle/High School Students:
Really and truly, at this stage students should be quite independent. Perhaps some organizational help is needed with planning when to work on assignments and deadlines, but students should be completing most assignments on their own and learning to manage their time well themselves.
If a student does not understand an assignment or has a question, it is absolutely ok to provide assistance. However, if there is a broader struggle, it is best to request an appointment with the teacher. This will help the student learn to ask questions and take responsibility for his/her own learning. In most situations, I encourage students to email me directly instead of having parents do so as it promotes independence and responsibility.
What if a student’s work is not up to par or to your standard? Honestly, sometimes these lessons are worth learning for the student. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but in my experience, a less-than-stellar grade is terrific motivation for a kiddo to “put their nose to the grindstone” the next time. I’m not saying parents shouldn’t ever check their child’s work – but sometimes, letting him/her learn from another adult that is a content expert relieves the pressure from the parent of being the only accountability for schoolwork. This also gives students room to thrive and learn from mistakes in a safe place with other adults.
If You Are Still Unsure
When in doubt, a parent is always encouraged to communicate with the child’s teacher about how much assistance to give or to discuss how things are going at home as the students work on assignments. Excelsior teachers love to talk to families and are willing to lend a hand or make recommendations that will set your student up for a successful school year.
Jenny Cutler graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in Education, and in 2012 with a Master’s Degree in Multicultural Education, both from Eastern University. Jenny taught in both private and public schools until she had her first child and decided to stay home with him. She ran a tutoring business during her first few years as a stay at home parent but found teaching online to be an ideal fit for her, and she made the switch in 2014.