How To | 5 Minutes

How to Transition to Online Learning

Rebecca Tunstall Written by Rebecca Tunstall
How to Transition to Online Learning

Online education is unlike any other form of learning.  It provides incredible opportunities to learn with students from all over the world.  It allows for flexibility and more academic freedom. It is full of creative educators who are constantly thinking of new, interactive ways to engage their students. Yes, it truly is wonderful. But it is also challenging when you are first transitioning. 

Many of you chose online education because of the plethora of benefits listed above (and many more not listed) and you were able to research and prepare for the challenges that may come.  But in this unique year, many of our parents felt thrust into this decision without perhaps adequate time to process it all.  Below are a few of the challenges that parents have shared, with some useful tips to ease your transition! 

How do I create a positive work environment for my child to learn? 

We have all seen the Pinterest homeschool classrooms that look incredible, but the actual accomplishment of that visual may be less appealing.  Students do not need the cutest desk or the most creative wall decor to thrive when learning at home.  They do need space to concentrate.  Many parents comment that they position their student somewhere that can be easily spot-checked.  Perhaps that is in their room with the computer screen facing the door or in a central meeting place, but in either instance the student knows that someone may look in at any moment.   Even among the most dedicated of students, it can be tempting to pull out your phone or to open up another tab for distraction when there is limited accountability. As much as your teachers would love to be able to ensure that your students are focused, the lack of constant physical presence limits the ability for a teacher to know exactly how engaged each student is; therefore, a quick check when possible is helpful to ensure that the appropriate attention is given by your student to the class. 

Focusing on a student's physical needs is another essential component of creating a positive environment for learning. With 10 minutes to break between classes, students need to move quickly to make lunch or grab a snack.  Perhaps having a spot near their work space stocked with healthy and refreshing nourishment will help.  Also, be sure that when students do have a break, they get up and move around.  A quick walk outside or an exercise routine to keep their blood flowing will do wonders for a child’s mind, especially when that child is spending considerable time on a computer.  

My child is having a hard time being prepared for class each day. It’s more work than we were expecting!

Depending on your child and the number of classes they are taking, some parents have expressed the overwhelming nature of their homework.  This is a common feeling in the first few weeks of school, but we have found countless times that students are amazingly adaptable and adjust their methods to the workload quickly.  It is important to have a Course Assignment Sheet (CAS) printed from each class and it may be helpful to put all assignments that need to be submitted on a calendar so that they can plan ahead.  Breaking down large assignments into smaller pieces can be really helpful (i.e. when the CAS chapters 1-20 must be read by day 10 of class, students should plan to read 4 chapters a night for 5 nights instead of all in one night).  Once students feel like they are able to do their work in bite size pieces, it begins to feel far less daunting. 

Omnibus note: discover how your student learns best. Are they an auditory learner? Librovox is a great free resource to listen along with their reading. Are they visual learners? Perhaps there is a comic book copy of the text that allows them to visualize the story while reading (Classical Comics have wonderful original text versions that you can often find at the library).

Won’t my kids really miss out on the socialization aspect of school? 

In the most traditional sense, yes. They won’t have chats at the locker rooms and notes passed in class. They won’t see each other in school sports after school.  But once you stop thinking of online schooling as a one-for-one replacement of a brick-and-mortar school, you open yourself up to a word of possibilities.  Veritas has a rich community with many ways to engage and socialize, but it also has a flexible schedule and more time off which allows for your student to more deeply engage with their Church and their community.  My students are some of the most socially active people I know and are constantly sharing about the incredible groups and activities that they have immersed themselves into; activities that I, as a traditional schooling student, never had the opportunity to engage in.  By cutting out the extras like assemblies and drills, VSA provides families the opportunity to decide what activities and social interactions they value.

Along with the ability to engage your physical community, Veritas has a rich and diverse community amongst itself.  Discussion boards, facebook groups, regional meet-ups, End of Year Gathering, mission trips, and in-class connections all work together to create an incredible environment for learning.  Students constantly send me pictures from when they met up with their friends from another state or even another country, or of google meets group sessions they created among themselves.  What a beautiful picture of the diverse and creative sampling of believers that we Veritas teachers have the privilege to teach! 

I know that this is overwhelming- the whole of 2020 has been.  But you have joined an incredible community of people who want to see you and your child succeed.  We care deeply for their education, but even more so for them as people.  When I first was hired at Veritas, I truly believed I would dislike the lack of connection I assumed I would have with my students, but I was so incredibly naive.  The connections I have formed with my students are rich and beautiful.  God is using VSA to create a generation of believers who will, by unconventional means, create connections that will grow His kingdom! I am honored to be a part of it and thankful that you are too!