In a lot of ways, virtual schooling is just as regulated and strict as a traditional public school—and in some ways, it’s more regulated, and much stricter. Deadlines must be adhered to, and if they’re missed, you can find yourself in trouble quickly. Class sessions can’t be missed—which means that not only must your child be present, but you must be, as well.
So what do you do when an emergency crops up? A family member is sick. Someone close to the family dies. Circumstances crop up that require you to travel to help out a family member in need. And yet your children are really supposed to be in school. What’s a virtual schooling parent to do?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Get in contact with your child’s teacher early, and stay in contact through the process. Make sure that they are aware of what is going on and what will be expected of your family as a result. Teachers (and administrators) are human. They understand that things happen sometimes—and they aren’t going to get bent out of shape over something out of your control.
Keep your child’s routine as close to normal as possible. Even if you’re traveling, you will likely have access to the internet. Why not see if you can get your child into a class connect session or two—even if it’s just one or two? If you don’t have internet access, you still have access to your materials. Print out a novel unit, or pick up a vocabulary or literature book. It may mean jumping ahead a little, but it will keep your child on track and prevent them from falling too far behind. As an added benefit, it will also give your child something to do while you are taking care of other circumstances.
Take a few days. Virtual students are allowed “sick days” just like any other child in any other classroom. Just realize that the number of sick days must be finite, and it must be reasonable. Children must return to school in a timely manner—but if they need a day or two to grieve, or to take care of a family emergency, that’s understandable. Just communicate with your child’s teacher about how it should be handled.
Consider asking someone else to watch your child for a few hours. Just like you would find a babysitter for a young child, an elementary school-aged virtual student may need supervision. If you plan ahead and leave a list of things that he needs to accomplish, most babysitters will see to it that the work gets finished—or at least attempted. It won’t be the same as if you were there to do it with your child, but that’s okay. They might learn something different, or something even better.