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Is it Difficult to Cyber School Your Child?

Is it Difficult to Cyber School Your Child?

About Cyber Education

Are you a parent of a school-aged child looking for educational options in Pennsylvania? Would you like a little more flexibility in the school day? Are you wondering if your student can get an excellent education online? Lastly, you may be asking yourself, “How hard can it be to cyber school my child?”


As a former cyber school parent (whom PA Virtual calls the Learning Coach), I feel qualified to assist in answering questions you may have about the difficulty and/or simplicity of your daily role in your child’s education. I want to give an honest perspective, after 13 years of cyber schooling in our home. The answers to flexibility and an excellent education are both a resounding YES! I’ll address how hard the day-to-day may be in this blog post.

diamond-modelFirst of all, let me tell you, PA Virtual Charter School was initiated with the parental role in mind. The Parent Ambassador Program at our school tells parents this is a rewarding “job” minus a paycheck. As I give my perspective, keep in mind the kind of “job” this journey will be for you and your family.




Direct Involvement and Expectations

There are both joys and challenges in entering the K-12 cyber education world. At PA Virtual, we do have specific expectations of our Learning Coaches.

  1. Monitoring attendance and class time: ensuring your child is actively participating in class, and sitting alongside a child when necessary.

    • Due to our required reporting to the PA Department of Education on attendance, a Learning Coach is responsible to log into Blackboard every school day. This tells us that your student “has arrived at the school building” and is ready to go to class. If you don’t log into Blackboard, you will begin receiving communication from the school. Pennsylvania has strict truancy laws, which PA Virtual must follow.

      • Check out PA School attendance requirements here.
    • Keep in mind the daily/hourly requirements of a public school student in PA are as follows:

      • Kindergarten – 6th Grade: 5 hours per day/900 hours per year

      • 7th Grade – 12th Grade: 5 ½ to 6 hours per day/990 hours per year

      • 180 days of school – Monday through Friday

  1. Managing your daily schedule: Cyber school is different from homeschooling as the school provides the curriculum and teachers send the plan. Instead of planning the entire week alone, you walk alongside the teacher and complete what has been assigned. Samples of synchronous student schedules by grade level can be found here.

  2. Instructing your child: With teachers providing guidance, the Learning Coach role allows you to help to instruct and assist with schoolwork, projects, assignments, etc.

  3. Communicating with the school: You will find PA Virtual teachers and administration ready to support you and your student. Through email and phone, Learning Coaches work closely and communicate as needed with staff on behalf of the student.

  4. Communicating in your home: Cyber school works day to day when your family goals and expectations are set and easily communicated with all involved.

  5. Organizing your home: Cyber school works best when a Learning Coach helps a student learn to stay organized. If you choose to enroll your student with us, our parent program at PA Virtual will offer you many tips to help your school day run smoothly in the area of organization. Until that time, many good resources are available online. Understand that homeschool and business websites offer valuable information on organization.


Here are a few I found in seconds…


LC_momMy mom taught us, “if you get it out, put it away,” “if you turn it on, when you are finished, turn it off,” and simple things like “brush your teeth, wash your hands, wash your face, hang it up, fold it and put it in the drawer.” We knew how to complete household chores and could be trusted (most of the time) to do so. She taught us how to do things instead of only instructing us to do something. She was committed to us learning the areas of life that would help us in the future. The bottom line is being a Mom and a Learning Coach requires engagement, time, energy, and commitment.


Daily Challenges

As with any worthwhile endeavor, you will find new challenges.

  1. At the start of the school year, you may find yourself overwhelmed. That is ok. Remember the last time you began new employment? As with any new “job,” the training and implementation can leave you a little speechless and exhausted at the end of the first days.

  2. You may find your student reluctant to call school “home” or to call home “school.” One of my favorite things to do with this daily challenge was to set the tone for my student. She was able to pick up on whatever tone I was setting, so I endeavored to make it a good one. In the first years of Elementary School, I used an apron with the word “teacher” ironed on to let her know it was time for school. Other parents I knew used a hat in a similar way. Using a dedicated space for school also can help your student understand the importance of this change and learn a home can be used for school, too. (Begin to think of all the other areas your home has been used for learning!)

  3. All of us are not computer specialists. Learning to navigate the online platforms of the school day takes some effort. But with diligence after some weeks, the technology, lesson plans, learning platforms, responding to school communication, etc. all becomes a part of the day.

  4. Was it a bad day? We all have them, and each of us engages in less than stellar behavior at times. Perhaps one of you wasn’t feeling great. Maybe an event was on the horizon and there was trouble focusing on the current task at hand due to thinking of the future. And some days the hardest part is when one or more doesn’t “feel like doing school.” This is where resiliency is beneficial. Be honest with yourself and your student(s). Be forgiving. Tomorrow is fresh and new. Tell your student, we can begin again tomorrow.

  5. There were days I asked myself, “Why am I doing this”? Those times I grabbed my goals for the year, read them through, and decided to continue.

  6. Having only one student enrolled, I knew many families who had multiple students enrolled. Question yourself, “How do you keep your students engaged in other areas of life?” All of those practices may just work here as well.

As you consider this journey, keep in mind challenges can be turned into life learning skills and opportunities.


Expanded Roles

In the cyber school setting, you will find yourself with multiple roles:

  • Administrative Assistant – You keep in communication with all school staff, manage the daily routine, and create a family schedule.

  • School Nurse – Although PA Virtual has a Pupil Health Department, the Learning Coach is the daily go-to person for a student not feeling well or in the event an injury occurs.

  • Lunch Lady – Lunchtime is a fun and engaging opportunity for parents to teach their students about nutrition and good eating habits.

  • Head of Transportation – There is no school bus in cyber school. Learning Coaches are responsible for any needed transportation before, during, and after school.

  • Go-to Guidance Counselor – Of course, at PA Virtual, you’ll also be able to tap into our Guidance Department whenever necessary.

  • Activity Planner – You will plan how to involve your students in the public arena, faith community, daily recess, and allow them to grow in the areas of life they find enjoyable.

These new roles are in addition to any possible family, employment, community, and volunteer roles you are currently appreciating.


Remember the Benefits

benefitsThe active role you will undertake as a Learning Coach at PA Virtual is beneficial on so many levels. The following is a list of benefits that come to mind.

  • The first is the relationship-building taking place in your home. Time is the one thing that isn’t returned or renewed. We used the time of cyber learning to develop relationships, inside and outside of our family structure.

  • Knowing what your student is studying allows for great conversations later in the day, week, or even months later. You will learn and re-learn with your student.

  • Speaking for myself and other parents I have engaged with over the years, count the benefit of passing on family values to future generations.

  • There is no long (or short) bus ride to school.

  • Cyber learning makes the hurry of getting out the door each morning a thing of the past.

  • When a student engages wholeheartedly during the day, evenings become free for other activities.

  • There is great joy in seeing your child learn and grow and in some subjects, surpassing you!

  • Hearing your child “teach” a friend what they learned in any given subject is a wonderful experience.

  • The benefit of your child watching you in daily situations will almost automatically teach them how to react.

  • Cyber school can be portable. A designated space is where most of the day takes place, but schoolwork can also be completed in another room in the house or the backyard.

  • The “cafeteria food” possibly tastes better, the company is more engaging, and you control the waste.

  • Socialization is prioritized together by family.

  • While you watch your student grow, you will find many opportunities to grow: socially, academically, spiritually, and making new friendships.



Will it be difficult to cyber school your child? Are there obstacles and opportunities, benefits and blocks, challenges and co-operations to the day-to-day processes of public schooling at home? I can say with certainty each Learning Coach experiences difficult days. However, the smoother days can far outweigh the hard ones if you are willing to:

  1. Be an enthusiastic learner

  2. Be accountable to PA Virtual by:

    • logging into Blackboard each morning to capture your student’s attendance

    • following your student’s teacher plan and keeping current with assignments

    • following our academic calendar

    • reading and responding daily to email

    • reading announcements and participating in school activities

  3. Keep in mind the administration, teachers, and support staff are on your team

  4. Pay attention to your student: their strengths and weaknesses, successes and difficulties

  5. Communicate with school staff, your student, and other family members

  6. Minimize distractions to let your student know you place value on the school day and that education is important

  7. Take some time for yourself to refresh and renew

  8. Set the tone in your home each morning


13 yearsIn conclusion, after 13 years of being a Learning Coach, I will reiterate there are times when cyber school was difficult. However, in our story, the excellent days so outweighed the difficult ones. Thanks for stopping by and considering PA Virtual Charter School to propel your student towards a successful future.


If you think a cyber charter school may be a good fit for your family, we invite you to attend an upcoming online open house.


Cindy Dingeldein for PA VirtualAbout the Author: 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.




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