Five Suggestions for New Online Learning Coaches
As we gear up for a new school year, I wanted to offer five suggestions for our new learning coaches out there as they begin to learn how to manage living the online education lifestyle.
Plan but Be Flexible
Whenever I start something new – a new school year, hobby, route, I know that the key is to plan as best as I can. It’s no different when it comes to being a learning coach. You have to spend some time planning out what your children are going to do and how it’s all going to be managed.
Many people don’t consider that when your kids are schooling online at home, making sure the household stuff gets done has to be accounted for and planned. Dinner, the endless piles of laundry, chores, family down time – it all has to be managed.
Life rarely goes as planned though, so you have to be flexible. Your internet access may go down, your little one may get strep, or you as their parent/learning coach may get the flu (let’s hope this NEVER happens) –whatever the case, make a point to plan for rainy day scenarios too!
Here are some great sites to help you create a plan:
Get Organized but not Crazy Organized
While writing this post, I came across this blog post. The post reassures all of us parents that our home learning space does not have to mimic that of a school room. And we don’t have to be a slave to a gigantic wall calendar. It also does a great job at pointing out that online learning “is not transplanting the classroom experience and environment into your home”.
Many parents out there are so busy trying to keep up with the Jones’; they lose sight of what their original intent was. Why did you decide to make the choice to enroll your children in an online school? The answer to that question is the key to it all.
With the proliferation of sites like Pinterest, where everyone is sharing the pics of the perfect looking homes and learning spaces, many of us are starting to feel like maybe we aren’t measuring up.
Rest assured, you are fine the way you are! Everything doesn’t have to be perfect and be in perfect order to be considered organized. Most of us don’t live that way and it’s why sites like Pinstrosity are popping up.
Here are some sites that offer tips and suggestions on how to get better organized for online learning:
- The Organized Parent
- Organized Homeschool
- How We Homeschool Pt. 1
- 7 Ways to Get Your Kids Pumped Up for a New Homeschool Year
Ask for Help but Try First
You aren’t the first parent who feels stressed out, overwhelmed and discouraged. And you aren’t the first learning coach to feel that way either. Back to school time is one of the hardest times of the year for any parent, online or brick and mortar.
I’m just going to say it - Parents are stubborn. Does the following sound like you?
“I should know this stuff. I should be able to figure it out. I am smart and have common sense. Why can’t I figure this out? Ok, now I am getting mad. Why is this so hard and complicated?”
I’m not ashamed to admit this is exactly how I reacted just the other day when I was trying to plan out getting my kids to their orientation and had to figure out what time, what I needed to bring, and how to coordinate with their different schedules and mine.
I did eventually figure it out and it went off without a hitch.
It’s a new school year – I will be challenged with being uncomfortable but I constantly remind myself that after a while it will feel like an old hat – and I like old hats!
Your teacher or advisors are always there to help. But don’t forget, that there are many places online to get help and support from the K12 staff as well as other parents to help break in your routine:
- K12 Start – login to your OLS and you will see a promotion for it!
- thinktanK12 blog: Support
- Pinterest: K12 Inc.
- Twitter: K12Learn
- Facebook: K12 Inc.
Assess and Adjust
Sometimes plans go awry. Sometimes things just don’t play out the way we had envisioned. You should absolutely plan time to look at how things are going and make changes if necessary. Assessments and adjustments should be done a regular basis.
Attending an online school gives you the ability to have more control so you can handle the highs and lows of life. Family situations change, natural disasters happen – any number of situations will absolutely, without a doubt affect how you plan and handle your day.
Don’t try to make it all work in a plan that isn’t working. You and your kiddos will only end up super frustrated. Ask for advice, ask for help and most importantly be open to new ideas!
Breathe and Enjoy
The most important bit of advice I can offer is to cut yourself some slack. Parenting is not easy – in fact they aren’t kidding when you hear it’s one of the hardest jobs in life. We all come from different backgrounds and have different expectations of what it means for our kids to be successful in life.
We need to remember that life is short, moments fly by way too fast and if we are so busy trying to live our vision of a perfect life; we miss out on living it.
So when you start to feel overwhelmed and are about to lose it, stop what you are doing, breathe and think about why you are doing it. It’s always OK to take a break and join the kids in a game of tag or do some jumping jacks or play a board game. Whatever it is, you are solidifying bonds and creating memories.
One of my favorite quotes is from Abraham Lincoln and helps me remember what's really important in life: "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."