The world has undergone a massive shift on how we work and learn. Families have been thrust into a new normal of isolation and challenged by how we interact. This is the final installment in a two part series on homeschooling and learning online for Ontario students.
Homeschool in Ontario has become part of our new normal. With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic keeping families at home parent’s have been balancing working from home, going to work while their children have been trying a new form of learning. You may be wondering how to teach your kids from home. This new shift is the reason that Ontario eSecondary School even exists as one of the more established and accredited schools in Ontario. We were ahead of the online learning curve and have some amazing teachers that have helped our students become successful in their homeschool experience.
The world is undergoing a forced experiment in online learning and working, so we thought who better to ask about their homeschool experience than the parents of our students. We asked two parents what the positives and negatives have been while homeschooling their children through an online course with OES.
Susan is a parent of one of our students who took HFA4U, Grade 12 Nutrition and Health with Ontario eSecondary School, while Sean is a parent of a child who took MPM1D, Grade 9 Principles of Mathematics.
How has the changes brought by the pandemic changed how you or your child has experienced learning? Has it made learning more difficult?
With students returning to school in September, we were curious to know what the experience of learning had been like since school restarted during the Covid-19 pandemic. We asked both Sean and Susan whether their child’s learning has changed and what a new homeschool experience was like for them. Like many parents, the pandemic is the first time their students “This was my child’s first time doing an online course,” said Susan.
Just like Susan’s child, it was a new experience for Sean’s as well, despite his own experience in the industry. “I have been involved with online instruction at the college level for over 12 years and understand how successful it can be, for my child it was a first time experience,” said Sean.
Online learning can be of benefit to students as it gives them the opportunity to take ownership over their learning, something Sean realized with his online learning student. “With online learning I found my child asking me more questions and with the materials provided by the school she was enabled on a path of discovery, asking questions of the family or teacher as needed and also researching on her own. In other words learning how to solve problems a key to truly understanding math.”
What are some of the key differences or challenges your child has faced when taking an online course?
In past blog articles we have discussed that there are differences in online learning from the experience of learning in a classroom. In our blog post from September titled Ask A Teacher: Taking A High School Course Online, our teachers highlighted some of the challenges. Ms. Avgeropoulos, one of our online instructors, highlighted this post. “Students may sometimes get frustrated due to less human interaction and an inability to discuss course content with classmates.” This is something that we’re certainly getting used to in our new normal, but that doesn’t change some need for human interaction.
But as Sean highlights there are positives to learning online without teacher interaction. “Not having a face-to-face teacher was at first a challenge, however my child was very quick to respond and provided excellent feedback when she made mistakes. Not having a face to face teacher can be a blessing as well, since the reliance on instant answers versus finding other ways to seek help or find explanation on her own was a great learning experience.” explains Sean. Many online courses at Ontario eSecondary School are structured in a self-guided learning format, however our teachers are available to help answer questions and we offer a 24/7 tutoring service for our registered students.
“My child had a lot of confusion about math at the start, obviously something was missed with the in class environment. The online class enabled her to regain her confidence and not only pass but get an A. That in and of itself tells a story about some of the benefits of online learning.”
Teachers are ready and able to assist students to grasp concepts and as Ms. Avgeropoulos put it “educators within OES are just a click away!”
What are some key challenges your child has faced while learning during the Covid-19 pandemic?
We all know that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we live and work and the way we learn is no exception. With the rise of the pandemic and uneasiness with the second wave of infection, many believe that online learning is here to stay post-pandemic in a hybrid model that blends in-person and digital learning, as highlighted by the World Economic Forum.
One of the challenges that has come with the switch to homeschooling during the pandemic is staying disciplined and focused on the courses you are working on.. “I think being self disciplined as there were not real set deadlines so she could learn at her own pace,” explains Sean. “With all the issues and stresses related to Covid-19 this was good, but it at times was hard to get her to work on it each day of the week. We got there in the end, but for sure that was a challenge and a great learning experience.” Going at your own pace is something that can be of tremendous benefit to students. The blog Let’s be Gamechangers discusses this topic. “Learning at one’s own pace means that students can dictate their workflow according to their comprehension, familiarity with the subjects and natural pace of learning. They aren’t obligated to follow the rest of the class’s pace, nor the pace set by a teacher.”
It can be challenging to be self-directed in students’ learnings, early on in the pandemic we published an article, Tips For Online Learning During The Covid-19 Pandemic. In it, we made many suggestions on how to start your day and focus on learning. One critical way to improve your ability to focus is to be goal oriented and intentional in your learning. Since being out of a classroom may mean that you no longer have a structured schedule to adhere to, it’s useful to consider how to be goal oriented and intentional about what you set out to learn. This can make a huge difference to how you learn. Schedule some Designated Learning Time (DLT) by spending some time figuring out what you’ll do before the start of each day so that you can work efficiently and be sure to detail what tasks you may need to learn. Try making a list and set some priorities on what you will learn.
What steps have you and your child taken to ensure they are learning effectively at home?
With challenges of making a shift from primarily learning in a school to taking a homeschool course online, our parents have become more involved in assisting their children in learning as well as aiding in developing their children’s time management skills. With a teacher not available at all times to ensure they are working on their coursework, parent’s are much more involved.
“Now that they are all doing online classes even with their home school, we are more involved in ensuring they are on top of all the requirements and not letting anything slip,” explains Sean. Susan concurred that she was more involved with aiding her son’s homeschool learning by “keeping track of their assignments and making sure he keeps up on his work.”
With some parent’s working from home and extracurricular activities canceled due to lockdown measures, this has become a lot easier for some. “As we know work from home and there are no extra activities in the evening we have the time to explain anything they are not sure about for their classes,” explained Sean, however we understand that not all parents are working from home and often need to leave the home for their work. This has created some friction for parent’s as not having students in school makes it more difficult to support their students during the day while they are at work.
What recommendations would you give to fellow parents who may be considering learning online for their child?
With difficulties and benefits of homeschooling our parents were asked to provide advice to other prospective parents and students who may be considering an online homeschool experience. “It’s a good option instead of an in class learning,” suggests Susan, “and great support was offered.” OES prides ourselves in our high level of service for our students through our instructors right through to administrative staff.
“Do their research, and they should be happy and confident in selecting Ontario eSecondary School as a great provider,” suggests Sean. Sean also suggests that you should be prepared to be a little more hands on with your child as they get up to speed on how to participate in a self-directed online learning course. “They also need to be involved with their child’s progress if they have not done an online course before to ensure they fully understand the process as each online platform is different. Like anything in life you will only get just rewards for the work you do – so it will not be easy, it takes a lot of work, but you will be better in the end.”
Although parents may be more involved in their children’s learning, parents are not in this alone. With OES courses, students will have a certified teacher throughout the course they are registered for as well as well as 24/7 access to unlimited, on-demand, online tutoring for as long as you are enrolled in a course through a third party. As long as you’re enrolled in a course, you can access the tutoring via OES’ learning platform, online.
Why did you choose OES for your child’s online course(s)?
The final question we wanted to understand from the parents of our students is why they chose OES for their child’s online course over other options that are available for online learning. It seems that research and referrals were the key driver. Susan highlighted that OES “was recommended by a friend,” while Sean took to the internet to research what school made the most sense.
“We did a lot of research on the Internet and found great reviews for this school. I emailed the school and had a response very fast. Being able to get a quick response sold us and throughout the course the teacher and school were always very responsive.”
One of the things we pride ourselves on at Ontario eSecondary School is how much our teachers care about our student experience. Taking a homeschool course online should be a positive experience. Our instructors are trained in teaching students online and our courses are structured in a clear and concise manner to make it easier for you to guide your learning. As an accredited Ontario online high school, we structure our courses per the Ontario Ministry of Education standards and break up our lessons into very intentional and digestible content that ensures our courses are consistent for all students and creates a positive and streamlined experience so you can earn Ontario high school credits online.
If you’re currently attending high school in Ontario, or if you’re looking for an adult high school in order to upgrade your marks as an international student, OES has a wide range of courses available. From SBI4U to MHF4U, the amazing teachers at OES are ready to support you and help you meet your goals all over the world.
The Ontario eSecondary School has been inspected and accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education. What does this mean? As a virtual school, all of our courses are recognized by and can be used toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and are also recognized as part of your OUAC application. This makes OES a great partner for upgrading Ontario high school credits online and is also perfect for adult students or international students looking to earn credits for post-secondary.
Learn more about our courses at oeshighschool.com