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Online Homeschool Class Design: What You Can Expect from Parents

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Transitioning your homeschool coop class to an online homeschool class because of Covid-19 aka coronavirus? In my considerable experience, here are the top ten things you can expect of parents when teaching a K-12 online class.

pnline homeschool class
  1. Reading their email. 81% of US adults own a smartphone. Pro tip: Internet access is variable for many people. Write in plain text only–don’t use fancy fonts or pictures or elaborate attachments. Use your subject heading wisely: ____ Co-op – Class – Assignment
  2. Handing children paper. Many parents will print it out. Consider mailing packets to parents without printers.
  3. Listening to you. They may not agree and they may not follow through, but most parents will heed your words. Use your power wisely. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf.
  4. Follow scripted lessons. You might need to demonstrate it, but most parents can follow a short (10-min) scripted lesson, especially if you record a demonstration lesson and post it to YouTube for them to watch. Hence the popularity of Saxon math and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. 
  5. Set their child in front of a short video. More than 1 in 10 children don’t have Internet access at home, but if they do, carefully curated, short videos are your friend. TED-ED, Crash Course, SciKids, Amoeba Sisters, Bozeman Science, ViHart, Numberphile, and Khan Academy are all helpful resources.
  6. Hand their child a book. Do your students have books? You’re in luck! Most parents will say, “Tommy, go read your book.” Follow through varies, and you must impose consequences for failure to complete work, but the initial push is a reasonable expectation.
  7. Remind students to turn in their work. Most parents understand that children will need to have work done at home, although again, follow through varies. Don’t expect parents to figure out how to turn it in online, though. If you teach them using a video chat, students as young as 10 can upload work themselves.
  8. Follow a calendar. In my experience, many homeschool parents appreciate a good day-by-day schedule for getting things done. Feel free to write up a suggested calendar for them—most will be grateful. 
  9. Not understand software. Even parents who are engineers can trip, stumble, and fall though the tech you use. Make wordless workshops with screenshots to print/email/download and short videos to walk them through it.
  10. Expect your patience.  When teaching online, you’ll interact with parents far more than you do face to face, because other than in video chats, they’re filtering everything to the student. Be patient & kind as they take on an unexpected teaching assistant role.

This is part of our series on online homeschool class design, written by an experienced online teacher and homeschool parent. Please add your own tips and questions in the comments!

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