When Worlds Collide - Home School Meets Home OfficeCareers have changed and so have our choices in where and how we school our children. Each family is different and comes to their own personal reasons for enrolling their children in an alternative school situation. The parent that takes on the responsibility of becoming the primary educator can easily get overwhelmed and spend a lot of time struggling in the beginning.

As a former junior executive in a software company, I spent a lot of time training, teaching, troubleshooting, project and people managing, both in person and remotely. By the time we came to the cyber school conclusion we did, I was confident I could do this with ease. I joined the Google+ community of parents for his school and just sat in amazement. I expected to see a bunch of parents chatting and exchanging ideas.

From the moment I arrived, I got a visual of a room full of battered, sobbing, confused parents that were crying for help. I realized a lot of the parents simply did not yet have some of the necessary skill sets to be able to navigate with ease. Here are some of the top issues I observed and how we go about them in our home education system. 🙂

School software – get to know it. Well.
This starts with knowing the requirements. Our school uses Google and web-based software that have certain technical requirements. This will most certainly impact your ability to even use the software. If you aren’t sure what you are doing, get someone out to your house to help you.

Next, make sure you know how to navigate the software. In our case, the school provided an orientation and access to the system for both parent and child several weeks prior to school starting. I found there were a lot of basic questions that frankly, parents should have already known the answer to way before they were asking it. One parent asked how to navigate between their children’s profiles two weeks into school. Seriously. Does that mean they hadn’t been monitoring until then? Whatever. Trying not to judge.

Finally, read your announcements. I can’t telly how many times parents post questions the school has taken the time to preemptively answer. If they took the time to write it, take the time to read it and don’t devalue community message boards with unnecessary questions that start with “HELP I’M PULLING MY HAIR OUT blah blah blah….insert question about something changing the school posted 5 announcements in the last 2 weeks about”

The bottom line is, know your software and read the information the school is posting there. Not doing so is stressing you, your child, and parents like me out. I want to be supportive of you but can’t because you won’t get out of your own way. I’m sorry, this is just tough love. We have to be efficient in this area. It is the foundation how our children are learning and how they will fulfill their obligations.

Stop stressing about schedules. Period.

One of the beautiful things about cyber school in our experience is the flexibility. It really saddened me to see so many parents were talking about basically having every 15 minutes of time blocked out for their child’s school day, starting promptly at 6 or 7 a.m.

Sure, your child has classes they must attend and be prepared for, and have a deadline to submit daily work by. Our school opens the lesson and assignments due one day in advance. The student must login daily between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. to receive credit for being present for the day or be counted as absent. Assignments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the day they are due in order to receive full credit and not be marked as late.

In other words, my son can log in on Sunday, do his lessons and work for Monday, then login on Monday and go through new grades. Or he can log in on Monday and do his work anytime before midnight. Any of these routes are acceptable as long as the result is there. If the result is a happy kid that isn’t stressed out and is getting good grades – where did we go wrong? This is how my job worked. My job was in the real world wasn’t it? If the child is flourishing in this less rigorously structured school environment, then the half of the mission right there has been accomplished already. I’m not knocking organization by any means but there is a fine line between organization and spinning your wheels. Simplify, use your tools to your advantage and don’t get in trapped in an unproductive cycle because you think you have to. “Flexibility” is not a dirty “F” word.

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