As virtual education continues to grow, more parents are faced with the decision of whether or not to enroll their child into an online course. Students take online courses for a plethora of reasons. A school may not offer a particular class that a student is interested in taking, or a student may need to retake courses to gain credit without having to repeat a grade, or attend summer school.
Even after a parent has enrolled their child in a virtual class, those parents may likely have concerns about things like course structure and the overall learning experience. Many parents are in the category where online education is a fairly new concept: one where they are lacking exposure.
While supporting parental concerns is paramount for parents whose children are new to online learning, it is equally important to maintain the same level of support with parents who are a bit more experienced. Below, I will list some common concerns and how to address them.
Top 3 Parental Concerns:
1. Will the lack of teacher-student interaction affect my child’s learning experience?
- While it is true that students are not getting the same type of contact from their teacher as they would in a brick-and-mortar setting, most virtual schools have policies in place to foster the virtual relationship between teacher and student. Make sure that your school has a clear and openly communicated policy in place.
- If a parent expresses this concern, take the time to reach out to both parent and student often, provide various avenues for contact and communication, and be sure that your classroom facilitates a learning environment that utilizes synchronous and asynchronous communication.
2. I’m concerned that my child will not be able to self-monitor.
- Most virtual school settings allow for a student to work at their own pace; however, there is typically a set end date for the student to finish. Teachers must communicate the end date and weekly expectations of the student upfront, so that the parent is not faced with any surprises later on in the semester.
- This is a real concern in virtual education. One way to address this concern is to check student progress frequently and provide updates to both parent and student. It is important that teachers, students, and parents are all partners in learning, to ensure that students are on track.
3. What if my child is unable to stay engaged in the material?
- Engagement can be a factor in every type of classroom, but may be more concerning to parents whose children are enrolled in an online course. Keeping up communication, providing real and tangible feedback on student work, and creating supplemental activities that are especially relevant to students, are just a few ways to keep students connected. Communication is key, especially in the classroom setting!
- Perhaps the most important thing to take from this list, is to make parents, teachers, and students partners in learning, in order to drive successful outcomes. Keeping up communication is the first step in creating this partnership!