6 Ways Parents Can Choose the Best Online Education Program for Kids

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Many parents have been scrambling to figure out the best ways to educate their kids during the lockdown, as online learning became the new norm. To help parents make the best decisions for their families, Karin McKie is here to provide some tips. McKie has been an educator for over a decade, specializing in teaching a variety of subjects online. Now McKie even has a business helping others learn and teach online.

“I’m teaching most days, usually six days a week, for about 10, 12, sometimes 14 hours, almost straight,” McKie tells CircleAround. “I’m doing my part to support parents thrust into the educator role on top of all their other tasks. I also model good Zoom/Google Meet/etc. etiquette and behavior, too.”

"Seems obvious, but some parents are still throwing spaghetti at the wall, seemingly looking for virtual babysitters."

"There’s an overwhelming amount of programs as educational organizations have had a year to retool their offerings and delivery systems,” she explains. To help you figure out which online education programs fit your family's needs, McKie offers these pieces of advice.

1. Research Programs Thoroughly

“Seems obvious, but some parents are still throwing spaghetti at the wall, seemingly looking for virtual babysitters,” says McKie.

There’s more to the system than just choosing the first online education program that pops up in Google searches. It will take time to really ensure the one you choose fits with your overall goals and expectations.

2. Let the Teachers Teach

“The quality of online courses varies wildly, so do your research and get testimonials before booking,” McKie states.

But once you settle on a program, step away from the computer. There’s nothing more annoying than helicopter parents telling experienced educators how to teach. McKie’s biggest piece of advice is to “find a good teacher, then let us teach.”

3. Don’t Base It Solely on Pricing

McKie says that when it comes to online education, you really do get what you pay for. “Most quality educators are in the $45 to $100/hour range, so expect to pay that for quality results.”

And it really makes a difference when it comes to the programming. “When quarantine started, some teachers gave way too much homework to compensate for missing classes, while some teachers just checked out, not assigning or checking homework. Look for that middle ground, offering good learning but also invaluable relaxation and chill time, off of a screen.“

4. Support Time Offline

Learning from a screen all day can be exhausting, and while it’s the only choice for some kids, it needs to be balanced with quality time offline.

“Find activities to supplement regular education,” suggests McKie, “including some non-online options. Make sure there are times for walks and exercise."

5. Listen to Your Kids

“Learning in the time of COVID is incredibly stressful for them academically and socially,” McKie emphasizes. There is always room to adjust and redirect, and this shouldn’t be compromised, as it sets up your child’s future.

“Remember to frame any supplemental learning, such as tutoring, science camps, etc., as a SUPPORT to what they’re already doing, rather than IN ADDITION to their loaded schedules.”

6. Prioritize Preparedness

What your child does now will affect what they do later in life. It can be advantageous, to focus on specific areas they enjoy, or provide one-on-one support for subjects they struggle with.

“Take this unique time to more fully prepare for college applications, etc,” adds McKie. “Many kids write essays overnight. Take at least a month to write college applications and internships essays. Rarely do we have time in life — now we do, so use it wisely.”

This piece is part of a series focused on helping parents prepare their kids for back-to-school. For more tips on getting organized, mastering multiple schedules, and prepping for the 2021 school year, see our full back-to-school guide.

Tags: Education, Navigating the Pandemic, Overcoming Adversity

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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