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How Does Your Student Benefit from Having a Learning Coach?

How Does Your Student Benefit from Having a Learning Coach?

This post is designed with you, the parent, in mind. You are considering cyber school for your child(ren) which can be a rewarding journey in itself. Cyber school students benefit greatly from invested adults monitoring the school day and at times giving instruction.


What is a Learning Coach?

Today we will start with a definition of a Learning Coach. In the United States, there are many types of coaches. The first that comes to mind is a sports coach. But there are also personal coaches, life coaches, exercise coaches, business coaches, leadership coaches, and the list goes on. So what exactly is a Learning Coach in the realm of K-12 cyber school learning?


The Learning Coach is the person who gets out of bed every day and spends time training, preparing, and instructing a child for their future.


At PA Virtual Charter School, we recognize children learn from the time they are born. Parents are their first teachers. In cyber learning, a Learning Coach has the same basic responsibilities as any other type of coach. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a coach as ‘someone whose job is to teach people to improve at a sport, skill or school subject’. This definition explains the purpose of having a Learning Coach: we are primarily helping our children to improve. From kindergarten to graduation, the daily role will change slightly as a five-year-old has many wonders to foster and many skills to learn as they grow.


In the same way a football team needs coaching, common sense tells us our children need an adult to walk alongside them in cyber education. In the same way we would not leave a child home to manage the household, our students cannot ‘do’ their education home alone. This is why we have a Learning Coach.


Here are some of the practical ways a parent or adult assumes the Learning Coach role:

  • Assist and Instruct Students
    • Learning Coaches make sure younger students are ready to begin when class starts and monitor older students’ punctuality and participation in the classroom.

    • Learning Coaches of younger students take on the reading role and watch their students learn to read independently. The older student takes responsibility of their own reading and relies on their coach for direction in the lessons.  

    • All students at PA Virtual have a blend of synchronous (teacher-led/parent-assisted) and asynchronous (parent-led/teacher-assisted) learning.

  • Create and Manage a Daily School Routine
    • Although all students receive a daily schedule, Learning Coaches are responsible for managing the schedule and creating a home schedule for the family to follow.

    • Learning Coaches help students decide when to take a break, how long to work on any given subject, and how chores will play into the day. There is no 100% correct way to work this out: every family uses their own discretion.

    • This daily school routine includes time spent in class, time for homework, turning in assignments, and practical areas such as mealtimes.

  • PA Virtual Sees Parents as Partners

    parents as partners-1
    • We as Learning Coaches partner with teachers and school staff. One of the perks of cyber learning is the ability to instantly communicate with staff at the school. In our online orientation weeks, parents and students are welcomed, instructed, and meet various staff throughout the school.

    • To foster genuine interaction between coaches and staff, Learning Coaches receive a personal Gmail account, and all staff contact information is easily found in the school systems.

    • Most of the communication with staff in early elementary school is completed by the Learning Coach. But as the student grows, the ability to communicate with teachers also grows. This is a great way to teach a child the skills of digital citizenship, which is an important ability a child will continue to use throughout life.


  • Modeling Skills such as Organization and Time Management
    • On this journey, one of the changes each family experiences is that the total curriculum is now a part of your home. Together, you and your student will make a way for all things school to be organized. Everyone in the home will appreciate the effort to keep school supplies and curriculum in one area.

    • All Learning Coaches provide oversight to their students. From the Elementary age where a student is learning to read, this could require five hours a day. As a student matures and becomes more independent, it is not the time to completely pull back and let students work entirely on their own. A uniquely positive relationship is in process and the student supervision continues in all grades. Seeing the student participate in class, follow a teacher schedule, and turn in all assignments in a timely manner are all essential areas included in oversight.

    • Learning Coaches also assist students with time management. Learning to use time wisely throughout each school day allows a student time after the school day to pursue passions, spend time with friends, and continue involvement in the community. Help your student to be prepared for class: notebooks, pens, curriculum, and hydration. Teach your student to plan for breaks. This is a part of managing a daily routine, which is another valuable life skill.

    • As was stated earlier, each student has a mix of synchronous and asynchronous work. Be careful as you work through the teacher plan to complete both. The PA Virtual model keeps Fridays as asynchronous learning days for all students. This day is consistently a time for homework assignments, asynchronous lessons, club meetings, online outings (face-to-face again when permitted), guidance sessions, and teacher help. When a student learns time management to maneuver the first four days of the week, Friday becomes a bonus day to wrap up the week well.

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Building Relationships and Skills

watching student grow
  • Watching your students grow

    • Memories can be made both inside the school day and in the family as you see your students grow. From learning to read to making their bed, there is joy in watching your child grow into adulthood.
  • Work & Reward

    • Having your children in the home with you for their daily education is an opportunity not to be ignored. There are several aspects of this relationship to discover. As with any relationship, it takes work but the reward is worth it.
  • Socialization

    • For our family, we found from years of cyber education an opportunity for understanding the family is an important foundation for social and emotional development. We’ve come to believe socialization begins in the home.
  • Values

    • Secondly, we found cyber education was a great place to instill morals and values. These are standards of life we want the next generations to pick up, live by, and teach the following generation.
  • Life Skills

    • Cyber education allowed us to teach many practical life skills all students will use at some point in the future. This also helps students understand there are responsibilities in being part of a family.
  • Accountability

    • Another area a student can begin to learn is the aspect of accountability. When a student understands their own responsibility to another teacher, group of students, or family, the thought of being accountable in other areas of life becomes the norm.
  • Flexibility - able to be resilient, elastic, changed, or the ability to bend

    • The Department of Education has requirements for the instructional time by grade level for all students in PA. Yet, without needing to “go” to school, there is more time in a day.

    • In cyber learning, the student can gain flexibility by asynchronous learning and managing time well each day, which is another good life lesson.

Individualization of Education

one on one

  • The Learning Coach is the ‘One on One’ for the Student
    • Whether your student is attending live online classes or is part of asynchronous learning, the coach is their go-to. Questions, comments, concerns can all be directed daily to the Learning Coach.

    • Keep in mind, you know your student’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, personality traits, and life experience. You can be the eyes, ears, and encouragement to help your student succeed.

    • The Learning Coach role helps a student learn a blunder is an opportunity for future learning.

    • Students gain skills from watching you mentor, perhaps opening a similar role for them in their future.


  • The Learning Coach role is rewarding as…
    • Your student sees your commitment to their education.

    • A Learning Coach sets a positive tone in the home.

    • There is an opportunity to instill a sense of pride in what you do together each day. This is a win for whatever your student chooses to do in their future.


As you consider the possibility of cyber education for your child, keep in mind the role of the Learning Coach is one with many positive benefits for both the student and parent as outlined above.


Want to learn more about cyber schools? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Attending a Cyber Charter in PA. This comprehensive guide includes all the things you need to know about cyber schooling in PA and will help you weigh the pros and cons to determine if your family might be a good fit.

Cindy Dingeldein for PA VirtualAbout the Author: Cindy Dingeldein Cindy Dingeldein is a former PA Virtual parent and currently works at the school as a Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator. Her daughter, Lexi Dingeldein, attended PA Virtual for all of grade school and graduated in 2017.




Read the Ultimate Guide to  Cyber Charter Schools!