Do’s and Dont’s – Parent’s Guide: Choose the Best Fit & Stay Engaged in Your Child’s Online Education

Written by Ellen R. | Posted in Parent Tips

Jimin L.

Ready to make the switch to online school for your teenager? How do you find the best fit for your child? Then what? How do you stay engaged with your child’s education without hoovering?  This guide for parents will give you strategies for finding the best fit and staying involved, while at the same time, allowing your child to grow and take responsibility for their education.

Finding the Best Fit

Not all online schools are the same! There are many reasons that parents look to make a school change – a family move, teen social drama, health issues or learning challenges. Today, parents are more concerned about a school’s curriculum and the safety of their children.

If your current school is not a good fit, switching to an online school can be a great alternative if your child would benefit from a flexible school schedule, and a safe and supportive learning environment – your own home.

Here are a few tips I considered when I made this choice for my daughter.

DO: Make sure the school is accredited.
DON’T: Assume the school issues a high school diploma that will be accepted at colleges and universities.
Accreditation gives you the assurance that the schools you are considering meet rigorous standards. Colleges and universities look for accreditation when considering candidates for admission to higher education. Cogina (formerly AdvancEd) is the most recognized accrediting organization.

DO: Focus on your child’s unique learning style and educational needs.
DON’T: Assume that your child will learn with a computer-generated multiple choice curriculum.
When my daughter was excelling in English, but failing math, I knew I needed a school with a flexible schedule. We found Whitmore School where students have access to their courses every day of the year, and there are no semesters. She never felt pressured to cram study for quizzes or to meet semester deadlines for completing courses.

For accelerated students, this is a dream come true. They will no longer be bored by the pace of the rest of the students in a class. They become empowered to take charge of their learning. This can be very motivating.

DO: Make a checklist of the most important aspects you are looking for and call the school.
DON’T: Choose a school based solely on their website.

What is most important for your child’s education?

  • Respect for a parent’s role in teaching their children morals and ethics?
  • A traditional history curriculum based on primary documents?
  • College acceptances?
  • Honors level courses?
  • Early graduation? Safety?
  • One-to-one contact between students and their teachers?

Make a list and then call the schools you are considering. Note: If you can’t get a real person on the phone, this is not the right school. Having personal contact with an administrator and guidance is critical to your child’s success in an online school.

DO: Choose a school that offers a New Student and Parent Orientation and continuing support for students and parents.
DON’T: Assume transitioning to online school can be done without support.
Schools that care about your child’s academic success will offer a New Student Orientation and New Parent Orientation, followed by ongoing support from a school counselor. Ask what is available if your child becomes unmotivated. How will you, the parent, know if your child is working? Does the school have a Parent Portal where you have access to your child’s school work and school administrators? Sometimes teens may get off to a great start, but soon begin to slack off. You want to be sure that your child does not get lost.

DO: Have a plan for your child to stay social and active.
DON’T: Assume that your child will miss out on opportunities for socializing.

Most students find that online school does not take as much time as a traditional school. With more free time, your child can add multiple social, athletic, artistic, and/or volunteer activities. Check your local recreation center for art courses and athletic opportunities. Your place of worship may offer youth group activities. Many online students enjoy volunteering or working in a part-time job. Look for local homeschool groups that meet for movies, ice cream socials or other social events. There are bound to be lots of opportunities in your community.

Staying Involved Without Hovering

Now that you have made the switch, how do you stay involved and keep your child motivated? Here are the Do’s and Dont’s that I learned when we enrolled my daughter in Whitmore School.

DO: Double-check that you have the ‘best fit’ set of expectations.
DON’T: Assume that your child can complete 6, or even 8 credits a year as many schools require.
Your child may be strong in one subject but need more time in another. Many online schools, including Whitmore School, allow students to work through their courses at their own natural pace. What that meant for my daughter was that she could fly through English and take her time in math. She was never pushed ahead in a course before she was ready. Perfect! 

DO: Collaborate with your child on scheduling and time-management
DON’T: Assume that going to school means 8:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday – Friday 180 days a year.
Whitmore School is intentionally unstructured so that parents can structure the “school day” to meet their family’s needs. Jeannette G. put it this way, “A ninth-grade student still needs a set of training wheels to be able to ride this bike on their own.” Setting a school schedule together is often the first step in empowering your child to be in charge of their education. Plus, when your child sets their own schedule, they are more likely to stick to it.

My daughter enthusiastically started Whitmore School, but quickly began to slack off. When we discussed her school schedule, we asked her about her long-term goal of graduating. From there, it became clear to her that she would succeed with a routine. She decided that going to school from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm 6 days a week would let her sleep late, start school when her mind was fresh and focused, and give her time in the afternoon for sports and a part-time job; all her personal goals. This proved to be a win-win situation. By following the schedule she set, she completed lessons with fewer revisions and earned great grades. Getting constructive feedback from her teachers, and seeing all A’s and B’s kept her motivated.

As a parent, I found complete transparency at Whitmore School. I could log in and review all of the communication between my daughter and her teachers and her counselor. I loved being able to see when my daughter had completed a particularly challenging assignment. It was a great feeling to be able to say, “I saw that you earned a perfect 10 on your Making a Budget lesson! Way to go!”

Jeannette G. suggests having a family meeting each Sunday evening and using a collaborative process for setting the structure for the week ahead. Ask your child what their plans are for each class for the week. Ask follow-up questions like “How much time do you think it will take you to read and take notes on that lesson?” and “Will that require additional research?” and so forth. Map it out for each day. Write it all down on a shared space like a whiteboard or google doc.

Then do a follow-up check-in at the end of every day. Ask questions that focus on the process rather than the result. Instead of asking “Did you do your schoolwork today?” (the answer will always be, “Yup” or “Of course”) ask, “What did Ms. Mary think of your project idea?” This becomes an opportunity to connect and share with your child, rather than a confrontation.😳

DO: Be prepared some subjects may need additional support.
DON’T: Assume that online school is easy.
“Math can be a bear online!”

You know your child’s academic strengths and challenges. Sometimes students need more interaction to understand and retain their lessons.  YUP Math Tutoring offers live remote tutoring 24/7. When students get stuck, they can get help in less than a minute using their smartphone to text their tutor.

Math problem shown on cell phone


View the YUP Demo


Whitmore School, accredited by Cognia, (formerly AdvancED), offers four Diploma Programs for students wishing to enroll full-time to earn their high school diploma. Additionally, students looking to get back on track to graduate on time can enroll in individual courses. Students enroll and begin any day of the year, work at their own pace, and may take up to 12 months to complete their courses.

Niche safest school rankingAnd, as an online school, your child will be able to attend school in a physically and emotionally safe learning environment – Your Home. Whitmore School has earned the Safest School ranking from Niche. Read student reviews on Niche.

Want to learn more about Whitmore School? Click here to see the Graduation Requirements. Click here to open the Course Catalog.

Written by:

Ms. Ellen - Principal

Ellen Ray, Principal and parent of Alina, 2009 Graduate





Jeannette -


Jeannete G., Whitmore School Blogger


March 19, 2023 in , ,

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