All right: you’re in! You have your login information. You have access to the online school. You have your materials. Now what?
Look over all of your materials. First and foremost, you want to make sure that everything is there—you don’t want to discover in the middle of a lesson that you’re missing something vital, like the workbook or, worse, the answer key—but you also want to be familiar with what you’re getting. The Tennessee Virtual Academy, in particular, will send two very large boxes of materials for your student. At first, it’s a little bit overwhelming, especially when you realize that half of those big, thick books aren’t for your student—they’re for you! However, many of those materials are designed to help you and make instructing your child easier, not more difficult. Take a deep breath and dive on in! It also helps to organize these materials. Devote a particular space to your homeschooling needs. This might be a desk, or a particular shelf; it might be a box or a basket near the kitchen table. Decide what you think will work for you (and be willing to be flexible about it).
Watch the videos. There are several videos available for new Learning Coaches. Watch them. Some of them are not the least bit helpful. Some of them will help you learn how to navigate the online learning system. There are also helpful “FAQ” sections that will help you learn the new language that everyone seems to be speaking.
Get in contact with your child’s teacher. They may not have one in the very beginning. Often, there is an influx of students after the holidays; and while the administrators are prepared for this, they can’t predict exactly how many students are going to come in, so they might underestimate the number of teachers they need. New teachers also need to be trained, which takes time. There will be someone—probably one of the administrators—assigned to your child from the very beginning, and they will be available to answer whatever questions you have.
Be prepared to be your child’s advocate. If there are special reasons why you have chosen to swap your child to a virtual school, you may be the only one who knows about them. Be prepared to be vocal about those reasons, and don’t be afraid to speak up. If your child has learning issues, or behavior problems, or other circumstances that might be of concern in the new setting, be sure that their teacher knows about them!
It is confusing in the beginning, and there is a learning curve. Even if you have previously homeschooled your child, the virtual system is a new and different way of going about it. You can—and will—learn to navigate it, but it does take time. Allow that to happen for the first few weeks. Before you know it, you and your child will be old hands at virtual schooling!