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Not everyone has appreciated the rise of the digital age. Very few are apathetic - it's either love it or hate it.
It's not a bad thing to resist the changes in the educational space. They're (honestly) not designed for everyone. That's okay - they weren't meant to appeal to all, just to the masses. If you find yourself frustrated with the fast-paced and often controversial developments, you're not alone. You don't have to do it on your own, or at all, as a matter of fact. There are other options out there.
You just have to know where to look.
Education has, for decades, been a practice best carried out in person. Over the last little while, that has changed. Now, regardless of the reasons for the changes - let's be honest, that's a whole other blog post in itself - the fact remains that those changes have happened. And they must be dealt with, in some form or another. It's dealing with those changes that really stumps most people. With good reason. Change, and a whole alternative method of thinking, is not always immediately evident.
It is not necessarily easy - of course it's not - but it is a comfort (I'd imagine) to know that there are options besides mass online schooling.
There are a few key things that are absolutely critical to your child's success within any educational framework - be it public, private, or alternative schooling. First and foremost: their own personal drive. A similar concept to a myriad of soft skills, but drive goes deeper, and is more of an innate aptitude. This is something that can, arguably, be trained into a child, but when it is achieved through holistic measures, the sky is the limit. A child's soft skills are also important - things like communication, organization, collaboration, initiative, self-regulation: these sorts of skills will serve them well in any type of educational, practical, or entrepreneurial scenario.
But we're not talking about skills that will serve your child well - again, that's a whole other blog post. Which, if you'd like to read last weeks' blog here, you can. Right now, in today's ever-changing society, it's more important to know what other options are out there, and which one is right for you.
Finding the right option for your child can be overwhelming. It helps to have some guidance, and if that guidance comes in the form of a professional consultant, the overwhelming feeling quickly disappears. A consultant can help you make more informed and complete decisions, that you can be sure are in the best interests of your child.
That's the kicker - most parents (and dare I say, educators) want to do right by their child or student. Knowing where to start is the first step. If you don't know, a consultant may be of use to you.
Imagine, for a moment, struggling with the wrong educational choices. Maybe that means you put your child in a private school, and it's a month or two before you realize that this isn't working too well. Perhaps you keep them home with you and practice unschooling, and it's a few weeks before your child has a complete meltdown. Or, you send them to a sitter, who makes sure they do their online schooling, but reports to you that they're not engaged with anything, at all.
All of these options are, in and of themselves, fantastic choices - when it is the right fit for your kid!
An educational consultant can help clear some of that confusion up. You can spend weeks or months on the wrong option - wouldn't you rather choose the right one from the get-go?
But what if, like many parents have discovered, the best choice is online? What if your child functions best in a focused small group, in a digital classroom environment? How do you ensure that they're getting the highest quality of education available?
Sound hard? Feeling a little overwhelmed? Don't! There's some helpful basic criteria I've put together for you, to help you become a little more clear on the things you should look for in a high-quality digital learning environment.
This is the most tell-tale sign of how much your child is enjoying their schooling. Are they excited about learning? Do they want to "do school" most days? When they finish, are they happy with how their day went? What is their attitude like - relaxed or uptight? These are some key questions to ask in order to determine if your child is indeed "into" online learning.
Particularly when it comes to education, you want to have a wide variety of educational activities that your child is participating in. Keep in mind not all education seems to be academic from the surface - often times, children are more resistant to the typical look that education takes on. Games are a great way to get around that, particularly with online learning. Some questions to ask yourself: Does your child get to play while they learn? Are there different things - both online and offline - that they get to do for school? Is there a range in the types of activities that they are participating in - visual, kinesthetic, verbal, auditory, etc.? Are they simultaneously learning soft skills?
With digital (and alternative) education becoming more popular, the concern about screen time is at an all-time high. The biggest concern for children of the digital age, particularly over the last few years, has been the amount of screen time they've experienced. With online education, time spent is not as important as content quality. Online schooling, done right, should be structured much differently than your typical educational institution. Sitting at a computer desk, staring at a computer screen, for 6+ hours a day is not realistic, and should not even be considered in the online learning space. When looking for an educational alternative, particularly if it is online, look for quality time spent. This does not necessarily equate to "the less time, the better." But beware of the educational online programs that have long days. Obviously, there are some variable here - the age of the students is the largest factor. Children under 8 should not have anything more than an hour a day, and students between ages 9 and 13 no more than two. Teenagers are usually capable of a little more than that, ranging from three - five. But, in my personal opinion, anything more than three hours of online schooling daily is too much. There comes a point when the brain just checks out - don't let your child hit that wall.
It should go without saying that your child should get a say in what they are learning. With online educational programs and schooling becoming more and more commonplace, it’s more important now than ever to give your child a choice. Empowering them to make their own decisions, within a guided framework, is key to their success. It's no secret that, throughout history, humans have done better for themselves and for others when they are given choices. The human race naturally wants to succeed, instinctively wants to do well. In children in particular, this is crucial - allowing a child to practice making decisions from a young age enables them to continue practicing and honing those skills as young adults, and then as fully-functioning adults. Allowing a child to make decisions within specific parameters sets them up for success when dealing with different life situations as they age.
And isn't that what education is all about? Raising our children to be the champions for themselves, and for future generations?
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Star Students worked with our son for approximately 8 months. The intention was to help him get through the last few months of school and the summer, bring him up to grade level with his reading and math skills, and improve his work habits. Our son was showing a lack of enthusiasm for school, making it difficult for him to focus, and his frustration was evident when he needed to stretch himself to learn new things. It was also very important to us that he develop confidence in himself and his abilities, and this is where Star Students came in.
Star Students was able to assess our son’s needs and got him moving in the right direction almost immediately. Working with Star Students gave our son the support he needed to finish out the school year and start the fourth grade ready to learn. Instead of just teaching him, Star Students learned with our son in a way that focused on his strengths and interests. This made him far more open to learning, and this, for our son, was so essential to his ongoing success in the classroom.
Our son is doing fantastic at school now. He feels far more comfortable taking risks with his learning, and has taken huge strides towards his independent work habits and his motivation to learn.