Completing high school online may be a choice or a necessity, but either way, it’s important to treat your classes with gravity. Just because you’re writing a paper or working through physics problems with a cat in your lap rather than at a desk in a school building doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take those assignments seriously.
Although you generally have more freedom as to when you do your work with homeschool or online classes, you should still set a schedule. Set aside a certain time each day to work on a specific subject. Of course, with your greater flexibility, you don’t need to block off every hour from 8 to 4. You can also adjust the time you need to spend on each class. The exact time allotment doesn’t need to be even. If you’re a whiz in science but struggle with reading comprehension, put extra minutes towards the classes that you really need to master.
Just like in a traditional school, you should make physical education one of your classes. Even if you are not formally enrolled in a PE class, make time. Teenagers generally need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day to maintain their optimum health. This can be challenging when you’re homeschooled or doing all your courses online. Figure out what works best for you, either scheduling an hour of bike riding, swimming, jogging or something else or taking several activity breaks a day.
Research has proven that writing information by hand, rather than typing or copying and pasting, helps you store the information for better recall later. Even if all your classes are online, it’s still worth your time to write out important information, such as formulas you need to memorize or new vocabulary words. Keeping an old-fashioned calendar is also helpful. Physically writing down important due dates helps you process the big picture of when all your assignments are due.
It may seem ridiculous to put your phone away if you’re doing all your schoolwork on a computer anyway but checking your phone every couple of minutes is a huge time waster. The best way to combat this is to place the phone in another room altogether. Even keeping it face down on your desk is not enough to stop obsessive checking, especially if you can hear the vibrations. If necessary, schedule several phone breaks into your day and stick with only those times to look at your phone.
Comfort is key when you’re completing schoolwork because if you’re uncomfortable, you’re more likely to fidget and lose focus. The more you fidget, the less efficient you’ll be with your time. Create an online learning workspace that includes a desk and keyboard of the correct height, a chair with back support and good lighting. Natural light is best with your desk parallel to a window. If that’s not possible, find a lamp with several intensity settings so that you can adjust it during the day or night as needed. Avoid eye strain with a good pair of computer glasses and by resting your eyes regularly. About every 20 minutes, take a 20 second eye break by focusing on something in the distance.
Just because you’re not going to a traditional classroom everyday doesn’t mean that you should be lonely. Find a community of real people that you can interact with. Schedule your “PE class” with a neighboring homeschooler and take a walk together. Join a community sports team or do volunteer work where you can spend time with others such as a food bank or animal shelter. If being around other people simply isn’t possible, find an online group of students who share your interests and try to “meet up” with them at least once a week for real-time conversations.
Online learning looks and feels different than regular schooling because you really have to police yourself to stay on task and make the best use of your time. It’s certainly possible to thrive at online schooling by setting up a few systems for your success.