Stressed about kids' online learning? Try 5 tips from parents who make it work

For Parents Jan 26, 2021

Parents love hearing how other families are making it work, especially during challenging situations like learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take advantage of these 5 mindset tips from families with years of experience in making online learning work for their families.  

While the resources for affordable kids' online learning are available, the right mindset will help you make the most of them.

Notice how learning for kids has changed since you were in school.

Today, children can learn topics they love, on their time, from the comfort of home.

This is a new opportunity thanks to digital devices, affordable WiFi and Outschool.

Consider parent Tamara (daughter pictured above). Her family began taking classes with Outschool when their public schools moved to remote learning.

Tamara said:

Quarantine has opened my eyes to a different style of learning...I have learned that each child can take the classes that they need or are interested in without having to leave home.

This has been a game-changer for us, and I feel like their educational goals have hit new levels.

In the past, dinners in the car on the go were part of our normal routine. Now, we are able to learn more varied subjects while making more time to be together as a family.

Maybe regular school hasn't changed much since you were a kid, but the opportunities for kids' online learning have expanded massively.

You don’t have to follow any one else's plan, program, or philosophy.

You can make online learning from home work in the way that's best for you and your family.

This is how Nicole (husband and daughter pictured above) and her family approaches a kind of homeschooling known as Unschooling.

Here, Nicole explains how families follow the Unschooling model in many ways:

People who practice self-directed education or Unschooling don't all fall into one neat little category.

On one side of the spectrum, it’s almost like relaxed homeschooling. On the other side of the spectrum, we have what's sometimes known as “radical Unschooling” or “free-range parenting.”

It's also really important to remember that somebody may label themselves as an Unschooler and not actually be one.

So it's important for us to know the boundaries around Unschooling and where it ends.

Remember, you don’t have to follow the ideas of others 100%. Take the parts that work for you, and leave behind the rest.

Give kids choice while sticking to your budget.

Liz (son pictured above), like many parents, has limited a limited budget for her kids' online learning.

However, she has found creative ways to make the most of her investment in Outschool.

Outschool as an Employer Benefit

Did you know that we partner with companies to offer Outschool as a benefit to employees? Talk to your employer about offering Outschool as a benefit to parents (read more about our referral program!) or direct your manager or HR leader here to learn more, so you can take your work meetings knowing your kids are learning and happy!

Learn more about Outschool's Employer Partnerships here.

Here’s how Liz explains it:

First is the Outschool referral program. That has saved me hundreds of dollars, and has helped our budgeting a ton.

Before taking a risk on an ongoing or semester class, see if the teacher has a one-time offering. If you like what you see, then you can go with the bigger commitment.

Lastly, I look for classes that pull double duty.  For example, in the fall, I'm looking for classes that accomplish core subject requirements plus social engagement.

Keep in mind that you can refer other parents to Outschool after you sign up, or experiment with one-time classes, as a way to make live online classes even more affordable.

Remember: you know your child better than anyone else.

Angela (son pictured above) does online learning from home with her 15-year old son, who has Autism.

By trusting her knowledge about her son, she has helped him realize his full potential. Following a path based on her instincts has also made the process more enjoyable for everybody.

This is Angela's advice to parents:

Parents are the #1 educator and therapist for their kids. We have instincts, we know how they learn. You have to trust that you can do a good job.

Children with Autism get 20 hours of in-home therapy at age two. Parents fight for these hours because they think the more therapy the better. But I was watching Ben, and more therapy equalled more stress.

I decided to reduce my son's therapy hours, and we began to see more progress when he was more relaxed. This took off a lot of the pressure and resulted in positive changes.

Remember that your observations about your child are valuable information for making decisions about their learning.

Foster your child's interests and explore their skills.

For the Snyders (daughter pictured above), 2020 is more normal than it is for most. While many families are new to online learning, they've been doing it for over seven years.

As Mom Sarah reflected on lessons learned, a belief in interest-led learning came to mind:

Start with classes that are of your kids’ interests. And if you start with that, then they buy into it.

I think if people relax a little bit, and let their kids steadily work on their interests, you'll be amazed how quickly they want to read, and want to figure out math.

I try to look at online learning like an opportunity. Maybe you can't connect with your local friends, but you're meeting kids from all over the world. What better socialization opportunity do we have?

While core subjects are important, don’t forget kids are motivated to learn when they classes spark their interests.

It’s a new world of learning for our kids

The opportunities available for children and families to learn and do school have greatly expanded since most parents went to school. That means that it can be hard to conceptualize or understand everything that’s possible.

By looking to other families who’ve made online learning from home work for their kids, you can take advantage of some of the lessons they’ve learned in order to create a better experience for your family.

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Gerard Dawson

Gerard Dawson is a teacher, parent and writer for Outschool.