Addressing parental concerns about the virtual classroom

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by Haylee Massaro

This blog post is a re-post from the Edgenuity blog. We are grateful to have permission to share their work.

As virtual education continues to grow, more parents are faced with the decision of whether or not to enroll their child in an online course. Students take online courses for a plethora of reasons: a school may not offer a particular class that a student is interested in taking, or a student may need to retake courses to gain credit without having to repeat a grade or attend summer school, to name a few.

Even after a parent has enrolled their child in a virtual class, those parents may have concerns about things like course structure and the overall learning experience. Online education may be completely new to some of your students’ parents, so it’s important for a program’s or provider’s administrators, teachers, and other student learning support personnel to be ready to answer their questions and address their concerns. And while managing concerns is paramount for parents whose children are new to online learning, it is equally important to maintain the same level of support with parents who are a bit more experienced.

Top 3 Parental Concerns:

1. Will the lack of teacher–student interaction affect my child’s learning experience?

While it is true that students are not getting the same type of contact from their teacher as they would in a brick-and-mortar setting, most virtual schools have policies in place to foster the virtual relationship between teacher and student. Make sure that your school has a clear and openly-communicated policy in place.

If a parent expresses this concern, take the time to reach out to both parent and student often. Provide various avenues for contact and communication, and be sure that your classroom facilitates a learning environment that utilizes synchronous and asynchronous communication.

2. I’m concerned that my child will not be able to self-monitor.

Most virtual school settings allow for students to work at their own pace, but there is typically a set end date for when the students have to complete their work. Teachers must communicate the end date and weekly expectations of the student upfront, so that the parent is not faced with any surprises later in the semester.

This is a real concern in virtual education. One way to address this concern is to check student progress frequently and provide updates to both parent and student. It is important that teachers, students, and parents are all partners in learning to ensure that students are on track to succeed.

3. What if my child is unable to stay engaged in the material?

Engagement can be a factor in every type of classroom, but may be more concerning to parents whose children are enrolled in an online course. Keeping up communication, providing real and tangible feedback on student work, and creating supplemental activities that are especially relevant to students are just a few ways to keep students connected to what they’re learning. Communication is key, especially in the classroom setting!

Perhaps the most important thing to take from this list is to make parents, teachers, and students partners in learning in order to drive successful outcomes. Keeping up communication is the first step in creating this partnership!

About the Author

Haylee Massaro joined Edgenuity in 2012 and currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she studied English Literature, and then went on to receive her M.S.Ed. from Duquesne University. Haylee has been teaching for four years in which time she has gained experience as a teacher in a brick-and-mortar classroom as well as online.