Navigating Your Child's Education: Grades 9-12

4 min read

Learning Online: A Cheat Sheet for High School Students

Mar 31, 2020 9:00 PM

For students and parents trying to navigate changes in school work and instruction delivery, many of us are experiencing a whole new learning curve. Here are some tips to move us all toward success in distance and online learning...

Feed your spiritual life.

For anyone who has already established a rhythm of nurturing your spiritual life such as church involvement, personal devotions and times of worship, Bible study, etc., don't stop now! It will be tempting during this season to “check out” of life in the Spirit. If you don't already have an established pattern that nurtures your spiritual life, now is a great time to start. From worship music to Christian podcasts, online sermons to Bible reading plans, there are lots of resources online for cultivating connection with our Creator. Stay engaged with what your church is doing during this time. The devil would love to use this time to separate you from God, but the Spirit still speaks, even when school is out!

Keep consistent school hours.

Given the transition to online learning, you may find that you have less schoolwork (i.e. traditional homework, cramming for tests, etc.) to do in the evening. Don’t put off work until dark…capitalize on this time with your family. Try to keep a regular schedule and keep school hours (8am-3pm) consistent.

Always check your online learning portal.

Whether you are using Microsoft Teams or another online platform for classwork, be proactive about checking it often.

Stay on top of email.

Often linked to online learning platforms, your email account should alert you to activity. Make a practice of checking your email first thing in the morning and again at the end of “school hours.”

Make room for social life.

Different personality types will have varying social needs during this time, but there are myriad ways to stay connected with friends virtually. Consider using more than text messaging and social media to interact with friends--using platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, or FaceTime may make it feel more like "real" conversations and face-to-face interaction.

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All communication is permanent.

Maintaining a virtual social life is important for your health, but keep in mind that online platforms have a unique permanency to them. Platforms like Microsoft Teams keep a record of all communication. We must take extra measures of care for what we say to one another and how we communicate.

Treat your classes just like you would if you were there in person.

While everyone is moving to online learning, the value of the work doesn’t lessen. Many classes build to a crescendo at the end of the year, so all the things you’ve been learning are now in a phase where we’re applying them to new and exciting scenarios. Force yourself to finish the school year strong!

Stay on top of time management.

Establish systems to stay on top of the time it will take to accomplish academic tasks. Create a schedule at home of “school hours” and “resting hours” and stick to it. Download a “task list” from the internet (like one of these), print out copies, and fill one out each day with all the work you need to complete. These simple sorts of things will really help you stay ahead of the work.

Remember it's not your parents' job to "homeschool" you.

Mom and dad aren’t expected to teach you. You have teachers. If you have questions – ask your teachers. Of course, mom and dad can help, but you shouldn’t expect them to know what the teacher is thinking…only the teacher knows that. Use email or your online learning platform to contact your teacher directly. This is a great skill to develop as you begin to prepare for college.

Find a consistent space in your home for study.

The more consistently you can establish familiar practices, the easier this transition will be. Don’t set up school in front of a television show you want to binge…turn off the music. With all the time we have now for this, there’s plenty of time later to watch that show or listen to a podcast. Your academic work will suffer unless you focus on it when it’s time to focus.

Be responsible and accountable to yourself.

Don’t make excuses--seek out solutions. Press through the challenges. If you have technical trouble, don’t delay in getting it resolved. If there’s a unique challenge that you face, be proactive in getting the help that you need from teachers and intervention specialists before it’s the last minute. Again, developing the skills to take care of your own issues will serve you well as you move into higher levels of education and work.

Communicate with your teachers.

Just as you cannot read a teacher’s mind, especially when instruction is online, they cannot read yours. Don’t leave questions unasked and don’t keep your teachers in the dark with special needs you may have during this time.

Get rest, eat right, and exercise.

Removing the tardy bells from education can create a strong temptation to completely unfetter academics. You will not be successful if you’re up until the wee hours of the morning, sleeping until noon, and starting your “school day” at 2 PM. Rest up, eat solid meals, get some exercise, and you will find this time to be much more meaningful.

Feel free to print this and post it somewhere as a reference and reminder. Happy (online) learning!

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Tom Burns
Written by Tom Burns

Tom is Director of Teaching and Learning at Worthington Christian School. He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Life Community Church in Hilliard, Ohio. He and his wife Christie are parents to four school-aged children and have many years of teaching and parenting experience. Before kids, Tom played baseball and golf; now he is relegated to either coaching or spectating while his kids have all the fun. He is particularly interested in the intersection of theology and learning, exploring how education​ forms the learner and the teacher more and more into the image of Christ.