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Challenges When Learning Online
For the past few years, I’ve been actively involved in online education with two of my three children (currently in my 50’s). Online schooling is an easy way to get kids off the streets and engage with one another in person. I am grateful for the many benefits online school offers my kids, but there are challenges as well.
I prefer teaching my kids face-to-face and by talking through problems and providing ideas over lunch and coffee. When I put my kids in an online class, I need to take on the role of parents of their classmates and vice versa. Also, since I don’t work full-time, I can’t find the time to spend on campus and also attend a lot of class meetings. Since I am a single parent, I need to pay for my children’s private education so I have to budget that into my monthly expenses.
Having children in online classes has helped us navigate a lot of aspects of learning. We have had professors that online parents can meet in person and learn about from face-to-face. I’ve also met some awesome professors through email for class projects that I can’t wait to share with my kids later in life. My youngest child is about to go to the second grade. If I couldn’t afford to pay for private education, I may have to home school her. It will be difficult, but I can do it.
My older children have taken some classes online, but none of them have so far attended a campus class. One kid is actually home schooled via a correspondence program, but does not work in an online class. The oldest child has had a few online classes, but is still a little shy about coming in during class time. If he went to the first five or six classes, he would probably join his classmates. All of my older children are on the Autism spectrum so going online is a relief for them. I need to balance how I spend my time, so I allow some flexibility.
My younger son loves online learning and has become the unofficial class leader. He does a lot of the work for his online classes. I don’t completely give up on him staying in school at home, but I find it interesting to watch how he deals with some of the difficulties of online learning.
In fact, I recently worked with an online program that offered to offer some incentives. They wanted my son to take on the tasks in his online class and he agreed. After all the work, I was actually trying to get my son to show up at class. He was confident in taking the classes and he actually wanted to be there, so I agreed.
The first class he took was a certain online class focused on math and science. He came in confident and knew he could do some of the work on his own. The rest of the class had been sitting quietly. He wanted to be able to solve every problem and that took some work. He didn’t want to use his IEPs (Individualized Education Program) that I had drafted for him. He could write down the answers, but it was out of his reach. I wanted to be able to help him get more advanced level questions, but I couldn’t since he had not yet done IEP class work. He had just started, so I had to work with him. I had to find a way to help him sit down and write down the answers. He now has the IEP to do that for other classes.
My son is in his second year of the program and he seems to have caught on. He knows what he needs to do, but he still works with me to make sure he stays focused on the material. He is in a second degree program and is having fun building his portfolio and hopes to study the programming side of things. He has become a mini-mentor to other students in the class. They look up to him and treat him like a big brother. His love for people makes him willing to work hard and contribute to the class discussions. I see him as a leader who is helping others succeed online.
How do you feel about online learning? Are there challenges that arise from your child enrolling in classes through your campus?