Online schooling offers many positive experiences for your student. They have time to explore hobby and career interests or the option to travel to see family without interrupting their schoolwork. But what do you do when your student is struggling: falling behind, constantly distracted, or generally unmotivated?
Excel High School’s staff has worked with students who jump into their program and find success right away, but we’ve also worked with struggling students who aren’t quite sure how to move forward successfully. Here are some important steps we’ve found to help struggling students find their way in their online curriculum.
Set SMART Goals With Clear Expectations In Mind.
The first intervention to take is to sit down with your student and help them set weekly SMART goals with clear expectations in mind. The goals should come from your student, but they should be created with your guidance related to the expectations you have about their academic growth and achievement. You can ask the following questions as you and your student set weekly academic goals.
S – Specific – Is the goal you’ve set identifying a specific task that you want to accomplish? What exactly do you want to accomplish?
M – Measurable – If your goal is specific, you also should be able to measure your progress toward completing it. How will you know when you’ve completed the task or accomplished the goal?
A – Achievable – You have to be able to reach your goal. Do you have the skills to achieve your goal? Do you have the time to achieve you goal? Do you have the resources you need?
R – Relevant – Does this goal help you achieve your long-term goals? Is it important to you? Do you want to reach it? Is it worthwhile?
T – Time-bound – Does your goal have a starting and ending point? By what specific day will the goal be achieved?
Provide Immediate Positive Feedback For Accomplished Goals.
When your child has a set of SMART goals to guide them, they can check off each step along the way and celebrate each individual accomplishment. Break down big goals into smaller, more easily reached SMART goals, and you will see your student’s motivation and attitude toward school improve. Take the time to evaluate their accomplishments at least weekly, depending on the level of monitoring your student needs. When they finish a goal, help them celebrate. Even if it’s a check mark on a calendar stuck to the fridge, positive recognition will go a long way in your student feeling supported and their hard work appreciated.
Keep A Consistent Schedule With Planned & Unplanned Breaks
Online students need the consistency of a set schedule and routine. Certain times should be designated as learning times to help your student succeed. The nice thing about online classes is that you can decide when that designated learning time is. You’ll have to decide with your student what that schedule will look like.
Remember that your child is going to want and need breaks, so keep those in mind when you’re setting up a schedule. Do they want to work longer four days a week so that they can have 3 days off each week? Do they want that day off to be midweek or as a long weekend? Do they want to work in the morning, take a longer break midday to take a nap or get outdoors, and then come back to it in the afternoon? The beauty of a flexible online program is that you can follow whatever schedule is best for your child as long as you stay consistent and provide them with the needed security of a routine.
Evaluate Their Learning Space.
Another intervention you might find necessary is a change to your student’s learning space. One or two designated learning spaces are a good idea so that your student associates the time in that space as the time to focus on academics. Their bed is a place of relaxation, so it isn’t the best place to learn. Work with your child to determine a couple of spots, indoors or outdoors, that they will consider their classrooms.
Along with that consideration, what level of noise can they handle? Can they focus better with music playing or not? Do they need noise-cancelling headphones? Do they need to be in a room without a tv or game console? Do they need to put their phone away during school hours? When you’re evaluating their learning space, take a critical look at what could be distracting your child, and do your best to reduce that distraction.
Reach Out To The School For Support.
If you’ve done what you can as your student’s most essential supporter, but your Excel High School student is still struggling, reach out to us for help. Your child’s Academic Success Coach is a wonderful resource to help problem solve with you and your student. You can reach out via email, through online chat by texting 952-465-3700, or by calling during normal business hours at 800-620-3844. Always feel free to ask for help; our number one goal is your student’s success!