Getting Ready for a Great First Day of Online School
It’s hard to remember when cyberschooling seemed exotic – an option for a few families who veered off the traditional learning path. Now, parents throughout Pennsylvania are discovering the advantages of cyberlearning. CCA offers customized education, tailored to your child’s learning style, while it gives your family flexibility that fits your lifestyle.
Still, you probably have a lot of questions about how to prepare for online school. It’s an effective but different style of learning. A few basic steps in advance of that big first day will start the school year on a positive note, positioning your child for success.
16 Tips to Prepare for the First Day of School
The first day of school is always exciting. Your child is probably eager to get to know the teachers and make new friends. Of course, there are fears and anxieties, too – your child’s, and yours, especially if it’s a new type of schooling.
Take time to get ready before the first day. Knowing how to prepare for online school provides a confidence boost and makes the first day of cyberschool exciting for everyone.
- Ask around: Talk to teachers, administrators and other parents. Ask them what will happen and what’s expected of you and your child for this new world of online learning.
- Reach out: Communicate with your child’s teachers. Fill them in on your child’s distinct learning style. Ask about their expectations, daily routine and classwork schedule.
- Check in: At CCA, we never want to overwhelm parents with messages and forms. However, we are committed to sharing important information in a way that’s timely and clear. Even when school is out of session, check your email regularly for messages from us about deadlines, permissions and opportunities that enrich your child’s education.
- Create a learning space: A dedicated space for school signals to your child that the learning day has begun. Create a spot that’s tidy, quiet and free from distractions. Add items uniquely motivating to your child, such as a favorite family photo or an inspirational poster. Develop an organizational system that makes every pencil, calculator and folder easy to find, so your child isn’t drawn away from learning by the search for a notebook.
- Gather the materials: Back-to-school shopping is an annual ritual. For cyberschool families, it’s even more important to get it right because the school will be sending materials and technology as well. Carefully follow any instructions from your child’s teachers. Then ask what else your child will need to make each day go smoothly. Pull together pens, pencils, art supplies, paper, calculator, rulers, sticky notes and folders for organizing assignments. Remember snacks and water, to make sure your child stays hydrated and focused on classwork.
- Plan your schedule: The day will go more smoothly when you’ve laid out a schedule, starting from that morning alarm clock. Naturally, there will be interruptions and changes, but a basic agenda lets everyone know what’s expected. Be sure to include time for breaks, meals, snacks and just plain fun, so your child stays energized throughout the day.
- Get a good night’s sleep: It isn’t always easy to jump back into school after summer break, especially if cyberschooling is new to your family. A week or two before school starts, set the tone by adjusting bedtimes and wake-up times in line with the schoolday routine. The night before the first day, establish a quiet, electronics-free time before bed, so your child – and you – gets a healthy sleep and wakes up refreshed and ready for the day.
- Know how to participate: Cyberschooling can be as dynamic and engaging as a traditional brick-and-mortar classroom. The key is encouraging your child to participate fully, engaging in discussions and asking questions. Some kids are shy about talking in class, so practice a classroom scenario in advance, giving your child the confidence to raise a virtual hand and be curious.
- Get a new outfit: Why should cyberschool kids miss out on the fun of a new back-to-school outfit and backpack? Dress codes might be more relaxed at home, but dressing neatly and in the latest fashion can put your child in a learning mood. Find fun styles at local thrift stores, or organize a clothing swap with family friends.
- Expect the unexpected: You’ve talked to the teacher. You’ve tested the tech. You’ve gathered the materials. Suddenly, the power goes down. Or your child is sick. Or – fill in the blank. Life will intervene. Prepare yourself by thinking ahead about how you’ll react to disruptions and emergencies. Build your toolbox of mindfulness techniques, breathing practices and service providers. Drive smoothly over the speed bumps, and your child will stay focused on schoolwork.
- Write down the basics: There will be a lot to keep in mind – names, contact info, passwords. Keep a list of important info handy so you’re not scrambling to find the teacher’s phone number or that family PIN at a crucial moment.
- Organize your calendar: Every parent’s best friend is a functional planner. Don’t wait until school starts to set it up. Before the first day, create a calendar that allows you to track class sessions, projects, due dates, field trips, extracurricular activities and family events. Use apps, whiteboards and wall calendars to keep it all front of mind. At CCA, the learning management system, called edio, includes a handy, customizable calendar for students and families to stay organized. If the school day throws curveballs your way, adapt the calendar system to adjust.
- Plan for field trips: CCA’s rich choices in field trips call you and your family to the great outdoors, awe-inspiring museums, immersive historic sites and just plain fun things to do. Review the schedule beforehand, looking especially for excursions that align with your child’s interests and academics, and you’ll start the school year looking forward to fun excursions.
- Check the tech: Everyone says it. “Technology is great when it works.” CCA and its support team strive to make sure that your child’s educational experience is seamless, but things do go wrong from time to time. Don’t put yourself in the position of sitting down for class, only to be locked out by uncooperative technology. Before the first day, make sure your devices and Wi-Fi are working properly, and have a plan to remedy any problems.
- Adapt as your child grows: Preparing for the first day of high school differs from getting ready for, say, kindergarten. Older children want more say in the process, and they might have more questions. Seek out peers who can tell them what to expect. Plan a schedule that builds in plenty of time for classwork, projects, jobs, extracurriculars and volunteering. Establish rules for using smartphones and other electronics for learning and emergencies – and those two purposes only – during school hours. Whether your child hopes to attend college, pursue technical training, get a job or join the military someday, look at the first day of school as the launching pad for those postgraduation dreams.
- Talk with your child about anxieties: Talk with your child about the things that worry them. Encourage your child to share their fears, and design action steps to allay them. Don’t brush off their anxieties, which might discourage them from opening up. Create a positive and encouraging environment in which kids learn from the way you listen that their fears aren’t silly and there are ways the two of you can team up to address them.
CCA Helps You Prepare for School
At CCA, we are here to help. We know the first day of online school can be exciting and a bit scary. Just remember that fear usually comes knocking at the door when we don’t know what to expect. CCA teachers and administrators are more than happy to answer your questions about how to prepare for school. We can walk you through the experience, offer tips and help you build the confidence to get the school year off to a rousing start. With a little preparation, your child will love online learning. Contact us to request information and learn more about online schooling resources and opportunities at CCA.