Motivating Your High School Student in an Online Environment

Making it to the finish line: 

How to keep your student focused on school and be successful through to the final day.

 

Things today are definitely how we all thought they would be even a few months ago. Our students face understanding how a worldwide pandemic will affect them and those they care about. Keeping in mind that while dealing with these very difficult times, they must still navigate their way through their online courses, we would like to offer some tips to help you and your students stay focused and remain successful right up to their last day of school. With a few minor adjustments, working on developing a new habit or two, and with your support, your student will remain driven and successful through to the end of the year.

Understand the system - If you’re fortunate enough to have an online student at Method, you may be familiar with the SmartFox system and how to navigate through courses. However, if you are new to online learning, it is crucial that you learn, along with your student, how to manage your Learning Management System (LMS). There are many options out there and they all have similar features, but learning the system that your student is working in daily should allow you to assist them should they need help in the LMS.

Know your resources - Stay in close communication with your student’s mentor teacher and learn where they can go to get the help they need. We have many resources available to assist students if they’re struggling or having difficulties in one or all of their classes. By knowing where to send your student if they need help will eliminate a lot of undue stress and they’ll be less likely to quit, submit, work incorrectly, or get angry 

Set daily and weekly goals - Help your student stay focused and know exactly what to do by setting daily and weekly goals for things like time spent online, assignment completion, teacher contact, etc. 

Know your student’s sleep schedule - Children need sufficient rest and should keep a regular sleep schedule. If you have a night-owl, work with them to adjust their sleep schedule back to normal. Even online, teachers have a typical workday (i.e. 8:30 am - 4:30 pm). It is important that students are working on their schoolwork during this time, so if they need help, they can reach a teacher while they are working. If your student stays until 2 am, and starts their school day at 3 pm, they are missing an opportunity to get help when they need it, rather than a day after they ask a question. 

Check-in/check-out - Have your student start each day with a check-in with you. They should be able to tell you what they have to do for the day. This can be a quick chat, a text, or a phone call. At the end of their school day, have them check out telling you what they accomplished, any highs or lows about their day, and to bring questions that you may help with.

Incentivize - Only you know what drives your child to do well. Find these things and use them to add value to their school performance. Do they like gaming? Give them extra play-time or a new game if they meet a goal? Do they like shopping? Money is always a great motivator for kids. Maybe being allowed to skip a chore would do the trick? Talk with your child about it and find out what they think would motivate them to work harder.

Support and be proactive - Online school is a big responsibility for a student at any age. Continue to support your student by asking them daily questions related to what they’re learning, assignment and test grades, etc. Be proactive rather than reactive. Reach out and ask questions if you need help from a teacher or the school.

Celebrate little wins - It’s important that students realize that all of their small efforts can and up to the big rewards. Celebrate a high grade on an essay and remind your students that a single assignment can definitely increase or decrease their overall grade. 

Set a daily work schedule and stick to it - Work with your student to set a realistic daily work schedule. Be sure to remember that breaks should definitely be included throughout the day. Concentrating on a single subject/assignment for long periods of time tends to be counterproductive, so will include a short break for every hour of work. A good rule of thumb is that for every 45 minutes of work, allow your student as short break of 10-15 minutes. Also, don’t forget a break for lunch and help your students follow this schedule by checking in with them occasionally. Once this habit is developed, they should see that working with a schedule in mind makes their schoolday much more manageable. 

Look to the future - Remind your student what they’re working for and discuss timelines frequently. Whether it’s the end of the semester or the final day of school, help your student by reminding them of these milestones. Knowing that the end is in sight and getting closer every day will definitely help keep them engaged.

Overall, there is no secret sauce to helping students stay motivated to do well in school. Some have this intrinsically, while others need this to be developed. Regardless of which student you have, hopefully, some or these tips will help you help your students to be successful online learners.

Method is here to help your child succeed. Learn more >>

Steve Bentley
Steve Bentley
Steve brings both teaching and administrative experience through his many years in charter and traditional schools. He is passionate about organizational development and student success. Steve studied Biology at San Diego State University, focusing on Marine Biology, and received his Master's Degree in Educational Leadership.
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