Getting Support and Making Connections in an Online School
This week I received an email from a fellow Mom asking me for advice on the types of lunch boxes and backpacks they should consider for their soon-to-be first grader. Do the first graders use themed backpacks and lunch bags? Do the students buy or pack lunch regularly? Our sons attended kindergarten together at a private facility, so this is our boys’ first foray into public school. She asked me for advice because I have already ‘been there, done that’ with my daughter Hannah who is entering the third grade.
Being able to share my insight and experience with her reminded me how helpful it is that I am able to connect with and gain insight from other parents throughout the year. In my opinion, nothing beats being able to reach out to someone else who is either traveling with me or has been down that road before.
As the program manager for online community at K¹² and a parent of two school-aged children myself, I know firsthand that connecting with other families is a vital part of a successful education – virtual or not. And there are many ways families attending a K¹² school can meet & connect with other local families. With the help of our online community tools, there are countless opportunities to meet families from across the country and around the world. The K¹² community reaches far and wide.
Monthly, K¹² schools offer in-person opportunities to celebrate successes, plan for the future, share tips and advice, and of course just have fun! Schools also offer various in-person events so that you can learn more about the school and the K¹² curriculum. Many of our schools have event calendars available on their school website where you can sort by type of event and location – to make it easy to find the right event for your family. Try to make a commitment to attend a few family events each month to help you and your family stay connected with your school community.
Parents are the definition of busy, and for some of us, regularly attending in-person local school events can be harder than climbing Mt Everest– ok, so maybe that is a bit dramatic - but with that in mind, our schools offer many ways to receive training, meet other learning coaches and find resources online, so you can connect and get information when it’s convenient for you - like when you are up at 2a with a sick kid!
The Parents’ Lounge, new this school year – is an online community available to Learning Coaches within thebigthinK¹². We developed it so that parents can easily find and connect with each other to get support, and share experiences. Want to meet and connect with other Learning Coaches that attend Arizona Virtual Academy or find a parent living in another state who also has a child with a severe food allergy? You can do that and more by joining one of the many social groups created based on location, interest, and experience. And a great feature of the Parents’ Lounge is that it’s a private community available only to K¹² Learning coaches! A community just for online virtual education parents – alone time at last!
And because the Parents’ Lounge is new this school year, I have scheduled a series of elluminates –Speaker Series: Getting to know the Parents’ Lounge. I will do a walk-thru of the community and talk about its tools and features. I will also explore the different ways to find specific resources and connect. To find out more information about these scheduled sessions – visit the Parents’ Lounge!
So, the next time you meet someone who is not familiar with online virtual education and they ask the ‘socialization question’ - How do families meet and connect if it’s an online virtual school? Make sure to share with them this information. Just because our students attend an online school – doesn’t mean that they go it alone!