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The Top 3 Ways to Prepare Your Online 8th Grader for Online High School

teen ready

Do you have an 8th grader who is learning online?

I bet he or she is excited for high school, and maybe a little bit nervous. That’s understandable. High school is a big step.

I’m sure that you would like to do everything that you can to get him or her ready for high school. Well, take a peek at these three things you can do to prep your teen for the big HS.

Touch Base with Teachers

In high school, most communications to the teachers will be done by your teen.

That’s for lucky him, right? And it’s even luckier for you (less work).

So how can you get your teen ready for this new step in online learning?

Why not let him connect with his 8th grade teachers?

If he is having problems with something in one of his classes (not something that you can answer easily, but something challenging), let him send an email to his teacher about it. That will get him past the fear that some teens have of asking for help.

If he does that all during his 8th grade year, he’ll be pretty comfortable with it by 9th grade, which is what you want.

You might want to share some tips with him about communicating effectively and politely in an email.

For example, you could recommend that he thank his teacher profusely for all of her help. That usually makes a good impression.

Get Organized

Is it just me or does it seem like the words “teen” and “organization” are oxymorons? 😉

It can seem that way when you look at your teen’s messy bedroom.

But, there is hope.

I often tell my teens that getting organized is a skill that you learn, not a talent that you are born with. When cultivated, the skill will reap many rewards in both online learning and the real world.

One way your teen can get organized is by using a planner. This can be a physical one or a digital one like Outlook or Google Calendar. (You can find out how to use the digital planners on this post: How to Keep From Forgetting Online Class Sessions and Assignments.)

Now I know some teens cringe at the mention of the word “planner,” but it can be helpful when used in the right way.

Some parents write out or have their teen write out all assignments in a planner. While this gives the teen a clear list of what needs to be accomplished, it can be a bit time consuming. If it works for you and your teen, go for it. If it doesn’t, well here’s another suggestion.

I found that my right-brained, creative, list-hating, high school teen needed something a little simpler.

Here’s what she currently does.

She puts all of her online class sessions in the Microsoft Outlook Calendar. Thanks to the nice reminder feature, a little popup box beeps at her about 10 minutes prior to a class. This prevents her from forgetting those sessions.

She uses a physical planner occasionally for important dates like: the last day assignments can be turned in for the semester or the date of each class final. (She could put this on a digital calendar if she really wanted.)

She relies on the teachers’ posted schedules for everything else.

That’s it. Simple, short and sweet.

Now what about your 8th grader? Here are some things he could potentially put in a planner.

  • Dates and times for online class sessions. He may not attend them all, but at least he will know when they are.
  • Due dates for work sample submissions. Your teen can learn how to submit his own work samples. More on this in a bit.
  • Dates for important projects. Teens can sometimes procrastinate on getting things like essays done. Setting a deadline for a project can help spur him on to get the assignment done.

Those are just some suggestions for planners. Play around to see what works best for your teen, because not all teens are created equal.

Another way your teen can get organized is by creating and organizing file folders on the computer. This is something he’ll need to do in high school, so why not get some practice in early. Here’s how it is done.

  • Go to Documents or My Documents in the Start menu
  • Click on New Folder or Make a New Folder
  • Name the folder for a class subject
  • Rinse and repeat for all subjects

Now he can save his work samples, essays and other important classwork in these folders and your desktop won’t look so messy.

And by the way, scanning and sending work samples is a very important skill to prepare your teen for high school. I recommend that some time during his 8th grade year, you train him to do this wonderful task. It will help him to develop more independence with his online learning. And, best of all, it will take a little work off of your shoulders. 😉

Keep Up With Assignments

As I said in Part 2 of my series on How to Help Your Teen Succeed in Online High School, getting too far behind with classwork is not a good thing.  In fact, I would probably liken it to getting a cavity filled at the dentist. Painful. 🙁

In online high school, students are expected to turn in assignments in a timely fashion.  This prepares them for college and the working world.  There is some flexibility with this, fortunately. Students can request extensions.  But, overall, teens should do their best to keep up with assignments or face a pile of work so deep that it will take them until Doomsday to get it done.

Your 8th grader can get a little practice in keeping up with daily work.  Make a goal for him to keep up with all scheduled classwork for a certain period of time like a week or a month. Then he will know what will be expected of him in high school.

There you have it. Hopefully all of this can help your teen prepare to bloom in online high school. I would love to hear your thoughts below.

Many blessings,

2 comments to The Top 3 Ways to Prepare Your Online 8th Grader for Online High School

  • Hi Susan,
    I’m Carrie! I just found your blog thru Pinterest K-12. We are going to put our 2 youngest (14,16) into the on-line home school for the up coming school year. We did not know it existed. My poor daughter has had a miserable freshman year in public school. We have found out about the on line school, talked with our kids and they are so excited to try it. I’m curious as to anything you can tell me about it. WE are in Texas. How long does it take your kids to do school? How much ‘homework’ do they have? Do you ever travel during the school year and take your computers with you? For 2013-14 my daughter will be a sophmore, and my son will be a freshman. She has dyslexia but she is very smart and a very hard worker. He is brilliant a straight A student! Thanks for any advice!


    • Hi Carrie,
      The length of time it takes my teens to do school varies, but averages about 45-60 minutes per subject and they have 6 subjects. It can take longer when they have a big project or something that is particularly challenging. My oldest, who is a senior, is doing block scheduling right now and is getting done earlier because she has easier classes. Their schoolwork consists of typically reading an online lesson which can be followed by a quiz or assignment sometimes. There are unit tests and finals just like other schools. We do travel sometimes with their laptops and my mobile hotspot. We’ve occasionally gone to coffee shops for fun. Encourage your teens to communicate with their teachers if they need help or an extension on an assignment. The teachers we’ve had have been typically very helpful and understanding. “Procrastination” is the biggest challenge most online students struggle with. Encourage your teens to stay on top of things and their year will go by more smoothly. How exciting for you to be joining a virtual school! I hope you have a great year!

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