As a parent of a homeschooled child, you’ve likely already considered the pros and cons of your child’s educational path.
The choice to homeschool, of course, also comes with many other issues as you embark on this educational journey.
Will my child enjoy e-learning? What if help is needed while taking an online class?
These are all valid questions that deserve thoughtful consideration. That’s why we do our best to provide you with answers on how eLearning works so that you and your child can effectively address challenges head-on for a robust educational experience.
Here are some of the top challenges presented by online classes and helpful tips for tackling them head-on:
Challenge #1: Self-Motivation
One of the many benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility it allows for a child to learn at his or her own pace.
This flexibility, however, can quickly become a challenge if a student is not committed to putting in the required time to complete online courses and textbook work in a timely manner.
While the same is true of traditional classroom learning, self-motivation is especially key for homeschoolers who supplement their curriculum with eLearning.
It can be tempting to become lax when it comes to consistent, daily instruction from an online resource.
The good news is that online classes can help a homeschooler develop skills that will successfully serve them throughout their lives.
Time management, independent motivation, and adopting new methods for learning are essential competencies for college, the workplace, and beyond.
Challenge #2: Tech Abilities
Yes, today’s young people are typically ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. There are, however, some homeschoolers who may struggle with the ins and outs of eLearning.
Getting set up, logging in, selecting the correct online courses, submitting homework, and asking questions can seem daunting tasks in themselves.
Picking the best online program can help navigate these potential pitfalls so the student can focus on subject matter.
To anticipate possible technical challenges associated with e-courses, it’s important to pick an online provider that offers a strong support system for students, including a toll-free phone line, an online troubleshooter, and easy-to-follow FAQs.
Other resources are the knowledge base, customer care, or submitting a ticket to the provider’s website. Instructors also will often help a student with technology issues within their course through avenues such as a voicethread.
Often, homeschoolers enrolled in online classes adapt very quickly to eLearning. Plus, they get the added advantage of honing their computer skills as they prepare for college and careers.
Challenge #3: Social Interaction
It’s a common misconception that homeschoolers don’t receive any social interaction outside of their families.
In fact, homeschoolers already have a leg up when it comes to the need for daily, face-to-face interaction with teachers and peers.
While each student’s curriculum is unique to them, textbooks, hands-on experiences, and community engagement are some of the more common learning tools used for educating a child at home.
Still, some parents may have concerns over the amount of screen time their child experiences in a day.
It’s important to know that online classes are given by an instructor. During this time, however, the homeschooler has the opportunity to pause the course, get up and stretch, or even take a walk to process the information.
As far as peer interaction, homeschoolers participate in all kinds of extracurricular activities to keep them in touch with other young people. There also are groups organized just for Michigan students who learn at home.
Challenge 4: Teacher Interaction
Many online providers do not have teacher-led courses. This does often provide a significant challenge to learning since there’s no one for students to connect with to make lessons meaningful and provide them with feedback.
Due to the virtual nature inherent of eLearning, it is so important to make sure that the online course you select is taught by highly qualified teachers.
That’s why we ensure that every single one of our instructors has these credentials and interacts frequently with their students to answer questions, clarify lessons, and provide guidance.
It’s important you select a program that has teachers who are a) highly qualified in their subject area and b) receiving ongoing and continuous training in best practices for online teaching.
Challenge #5: Technical Difficulties
The power goes out and with it goes your online session. The reality is that network connections, browser capabilities and other technical issues do arise from time to time with eLearning.
Unfortunately, these problems are not often preventable and are a fact of life in a tech-driven world. Traditional classrooms often face similar struggles with technology.
However, the flexibility of homeschooling means technical disruptions like these can provide the time to continue learning through other means.
Studying art history when the network goes down? A trip to the local art museum can equate to a hands-on (or rather eyes-on) education complemented by a conversation with a knowledgeable docent.
Or, if the dreaded black screen appears on the computer in the middle of a Spanish lesson, a surprise visit to a bilingual grandmother will help the student practice conversational Spanish.
Short of having a generator and 100% reliable wi-fi, the best bet for handling technical problems is to have a backup plan.
Here are a few ideas so that learning can continue:
- Check the local library for free wi-fi and computer use.
- Pair online lessons with hands-on activities throughout the community.
- Keep the Help Desk phone number handy for the online program.
With a bit of preparation and self-motivation, homeschool students can enjoy learning about an array of subjects through online courses. At the same time, they will develop critical skills to position them for future success.
Michigan Virtual offers 200+ online homeschool programs complete with technical support and teachers to provide ongoing guidance.