When you first enrolled your child in online middle school, you were committed. You had all the tools that you needed to succeed: a great computer, plenty of books, and all the art supplies your child could possibly need to put together fantastic projects. You checked over their work every day. The two of you were committed to making this work together, and you put a lot of energy into making it happen.

Then life happened. You started treating school more casually, and it came back to bite both of you. Suddenly, your child is struggling to keep up or, for that matter, to get work done at all. The day has been filled with dozens of time-wasting opportunities that make it difficult for your child to stay on track. Here's the good news: as winter break ends, you have the opportunity to make some changes and help your child get back on track with their learning.

Write out a new schedule. Having a schedule makes it easier for both you and your child to know what you need to do every day. Online school allows for a great deal of flexibility, but that flexibility can tie you up in knots and even strangle you if you aren't careful to make sure that you're getting the work done every day. Make sure that the schedule doesn't just include what your child needs to be doing throughout the day, either. There should also be specific times for you to check your child's work and progress and occasions for you to check in with their teachers if needed.

Recommit to making school a priority. Sure, hanging out with your kid and baking cookies is fun. It's nice that you're home together during the day and can decide to go out for lunch if you want to. The problem with that attitude is that it doesn't take long for a "quick trip out for lunch" to turn into an afternoon of running errands, shopping, and having fun together. Then you get home, and both of you are tired: the last thing you want to do is worry about school. You can always do it tomorrow, right? Unfortunately, before you know it, an unscheduled day off here and an unscheduled day off there can quickly put your child behind in all of their schoolwork.

Redesign your online schooling space. You should have a space in your home that is specifically dedicated to online schooling. Even if your child spends most of the day sitting on the couch with school supplies scattered around them instead of sitting behind a desk, you'll find that an organized school area makes it much easier for your child to focus on schoolwork. If your child doesn't like to use a desk, this might be a closet, cabinet, or shelf that's dedicated to organizing all their online school supplies. Just make sure that it's there if they need it!

Look back over your school area and see what tools your child is lacking that might help them succeed. Do you have a student with ADHD who is in constant motion? Adding an exercise ball instead of a desk chair might be just the step your child needs to stay on track. Has your child been struggling with an ancient computer that takes forever to load a simple website? It might be time for an upgrade. Make sure that there's paper, pens and pencils, and any other vital supplies that your child might need where they can access it easily when they need it.

When winter break ends, you want to head into the new semester with the confidence that your child will be able to succeed. Completing middle school requirements from home is hard for both of you. In the end, however, the effort you put forth will be well worth it for your child--and you'll both be glad that you did.


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