With the end of summer quickly approaching, it’s time for kids (and their parents!) to take off their sunglasses, dust off the sand, and begin preparing for the next school year. For students enrolled in online school, who don’t have the external motivators of a building to go to or a set time to report, making a smooth transition is crucial.

As an online learner, students must become increasingly responsible for their own studies. But it’s also important for parents/guardians to be involved, providing assistance and guidance as needed.

Shifting back to a more focused mental state conducive to learning after the “summer slump” can feel turbulent for middle and high-school-age children, but it is vital for achieving their academic goals. Preparing your child for what lies ahead is the key to a successful strategy.

Below are tips parents of online students can share with their kids to help them start the school year strong and stay on track throughout the year.

Tips for a successful school year

  • Get motivated

Attitude is everything when it comes to succeeding academically (and really, at anything in life). It’s important for students to feel positive and motivated when entering into the new school year. Parents should engage with their kids, exploring what they’re excited about in the weeks leading up to the start of school. Discuss expectations for the year and the role you as the parent/guardian will be taking to support them.

  • Clean and organize a workspace

Designate a workspace in your home, preferably a desk in a quiet room away from distractions and the noisy high-traffic areas of the home (such as the TV room, kitchen, and other areas where family members may congregate). Dedicate some time to cleaning or sprucing up the area, clearing off the desktop, and getting it organized and ready for study.

  • Technology check

Go to your online school’s website and find the page that lists the requirements for your computer system. Make sure your computer meets these requirements and is otherwise up to date and in good working order. If possible, it’s best to have a couple of different types of devices to work on as back up just in case one goes down.

  • Review the syllabus

Be sure to read through your syllabus for each class. Purchase all the supplies you will need ahead of time, get familiar with class guidelines, and review instructor expectations. It’s always a good idea to know what’s coming down the pike.

  • Decide on a routine

Online students tend to be successful when they make a schedule and stick with it.

Choose a time of day when you’re mentally the sharpest, whether that’s first thing in the morning or later in the day.

If you’re struggling with time management, try using the Pomodoro Technique or

Steven Covey’s Time Management Matrix.

  • Establish a goal

Setting a goal for yourself can help by providing something to focus on‰ÛÓa carrot at the end of a stick. Perhaps you want to achieve a certain GPA, or get into a particular college. Whatever it is, concentrate on the small steps it takes to get there while never losing sight of the bigger achievement.

  • Pace yourself from the beginning

Although you want to get off to a good start, one common mistake students make both in traditional school as well as virtual school is beginning the year at full throttle, getting early burnout, and having nothing left to give by mid-year. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Be sure to conserve energy, take breaks, and stick with a moderate schedule (not a breakneck one) throughout the year.

  • Be prepared for setbacks

Inevitably, you’ll hit a rough patch‰ÛÓeither because you’ve fallen behind, you’ve hit a concept or project that is particularly challenging, or you’ve had to deal with an illness, etc. Don’t fool yourself into believing setbacks won’t happen. Instead, shore yourself up and be prepared to deal with them head-on when they occur, minimizing their impact as much as possible.

  • Take care of yourself

Learning takes a lot of mental effort and energy. You need to be functioning at your optimum if you want to deliver your best. Stick with a healthful diet, leave room in your schedule for exercise, get a full night’s rest, and drink plenty of water. All of these things will set the foundation for you to give your very best effort day in and day out.

  • Limit screen time

Not all of online school happens by the light of a laptop‰ÛÓthere are still traditional books to be read and even hands on, real-world projects. That said online students spend a good portion of their time online. Which is why it’s important to make sure you limit or balance your screen time, both academically and in free time. Setting a per-day limit is not a bad idea.

  • Leave time for other things

There’s more to life than school and work. Avoid burnout by including time in your schedule for other things like friends and family, sports, activities, and pursuing interests and hobbies outside of your curriculum.

  • Use your resources

Don’t ignore all the resources provided to you through your online school. When you’re struggling, ask for help, turn to the discussion boards, utilize virtual office hours with your teachers, etc. Just because you’re attending an online school doesn’t mean you’re on your own.

  • Tailor the course load

Research has shown that successful students pursue subjects that truly interest them. Take advantage of one of the benefits of online school and enroll in at least a couple of courses per semester that you’re truly passionate about.

  • Separate study time and class time

Study time and class time are not the same‰ÛÓa common mistake by many online learners. “Class time” is spent specifically viewing and following along with the online modules provided by the teachers. And “study time,” just like in a traditional school situation, is separate. It’s a time to review what you’ve learned, apart from the teacher and class, so that you can feel confident that you truly know the information for yourself. Be sure to build separate time for each one into your daily schedule.

  • Use apps if and when needed

If you find that you’re struggling with staying on top of your studies, keeping things organized, or following through on your commitments, there are a variety of apps available that students can use to help them overcome hurdles.

Heading back to school can be both an exciting and overwhelming time. By applying these tips and carefully employing a learning strategy before the school year gets underway, online students can gracefully return to school and sustain a level of excellence and focus that will carry them through their final exams and into the rest of their lives.

BlueSky Online School is one of Minnesota’s first online schools, serving students grades 7-12, providing an individualized, dynamic education for all students. If you’d like to learn more about what BlueSky Online can offer your student, please call 651-642-088 or or visit our contact us page.