What To Do During All Of These Snow Days?

A lot of the northern states have been hit by an arctic blast and tons of snow has fallen – all conditions that leave you wondering what could be done to occupy kids and adults alike. The short, cold days of the winter months can leave you cooped up indoors wondering what to do so we compiled a list that is sure to keep people of all ages busy during snow days.

Fun things to do outside:

  • Build a snow fort
  • Make a snowman
  • Go cross-country skiing
  • Find a big sledding hill and go sledding
  • Go ice skating
  • Hike a nature trail and enjoy the winter scenery
  • Have a good old fashioned snowball fight
  • Learn how to ice fish
  • Go snow tubing
  • Try your hand at photographing the beauty of winter
  • Shovel for those in need in your neighborhood
  • If the weather isn’t too frigid, go camping or stay in a cabin

Fun indoor activities:

Sometimes it’s too cold to enjoy outdoor activities but instead of having everyone camped out in front of the TV or their phones, take a turn at these fun indoor activities that are sure to keep everyone entertained, mentally engaged, and physically fit.

  • Have an overnight stay at an indoor waterpark hotel
  • Encourage everyone to pick a new recipe to try for dinner and cook as a family
  • Try a new workout to get the blood pumping. The internet is a great place to go for new videos.
  • Start a book club within your family and read the book together.
  • Look up fun, tropical locations and plan your next family vacation
  • Learn a new card game and hold competitions amongst your family
  • Make a new craft to decorate this spring or valentine’s day
  • Take this time indoors to sort through your closets and compile stuff that can be donated
  • Sign up for an art class or drop in to a local pottery painting studio
  • Visit a local museum or library
  • Join a gym
  • Go to a local senior center and volunteer your time
  • Invite your teens friends over for a slumber party
  • Start filling out college and scholarship applications
  • Take the time indoors to study and prepare for upcoming tests

You may meet some resistance when you try to encourage your tweens and teens to unplug and get active but once they are, they’ll be all into the family activity. For your virtual learners, they can take the time to review their coursework and catch up on any work they are behind on.

How do you keep your family occupied on snow days? Head to our Facebook page and let us know! Others in the My Virtual Academy community would love to hear your ideas too.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding our program our staff is eager to talk to you so please, give us a call at 855-682-2333.

Ready…Set…Prep… The SAT Is Right Around The Corner!

Prepare For SAT

It’s the start of the New Year and spring will be here before we know it. For high school students, spring means one thing: time to take the SAT! This is a big test that carries a lot of weight, so don’t procrastinate studying or assume that 4, 5, or even 6 weeks will be enough prep time for your high school student. The earlier you can start, the better so let’s make a plan of attack and figure out the best way to get your student motivated and ready to knock this test out of the park!

The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is traditionally taken by high school students in the spring of their junior year, but can be repeated in the fall as a senior. The test assesses students’ knowledge in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics and is considered the nation’s most widely used admissions test among colleges and universities. As we mentioned, it’s a big deal so it’s crucial that your student is as prepared as they can be before taking the test.

Here are some easy-to-follow guidelines on how to begin preparing your student for this important test:

Get to Know “The Beast”        

There’s no way to know exactly what questions will be asked on the SAT, but you can get a good idea of the type of questions by taking a pre-SAT test. The pre-SAT tests can be found on various websites and often times are offered through various local schools as well. These are usually given free of charge and have been composed in conjunction with the folks who actually create the SAT every year.

This pretest is great because it allows your student to see what their strong points are and what areas need additional time and attention. The pretest also gives you a glimpse into the potential wording of problems and the types of things covered on the test. These pre-SAT tests are highly beneficial and we strongly urge your student to take at least one.

Set Goals and Expectations

It won’t be realistic to think that your student can master all they need to know in a short amount of time. Nor will it be realistic to think that they won’t have to come back and revisit the material they learned in the first week of test preparation. Setting realistic goals of what you want to achieve and detailing out how you expect your student to achieve those goals will be very beneficial. These goals should be broken down into manageable, weekly mini-goals.

When goals are setup in this manner, the student feels the burden has been lifted somewhat because they know the expectations are realistic and (hopefully) they had a hand in setting the goals. If they are hit from the get-go with unrealistic expectations, they will feel defeated before they even start. When making the goals, try to not focus too much on your student obtaining a certain score on their SAT. Focusing on a particular number can add to the pressure your student is already facing with such a big test on the horizon.

Break Out the Books and Study!

You know your teen needs to study, but where do you start? As we mentioned, the pre-SAT is going to be of huge help in this regard. If your teen has taken the pretest, review how they did. See what areas need improvement and start there. Jot down the topics/areas that were their weak points and delve into them. Keep in mind that the areas where they excelled shouldn’t be forgotten. Once your teen has become proficient in the areas they struggled in, have them circle around and revisit the areas where they excelled. You would be surprised what material can be forgotten in a short period of time. By revisiting all of the areas frequently, the information will stay fresh in your student’s mind.

Seek Out Help

Preparing for the SAT can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to admit if you aren’t able to help your teen understand a particular math equation or decipher literature. There are tutors dedicated to helping students with this particular test prep. The tutors will not only help your teen improve their test score, they will help drill home the methods behind the madness and strengthen your student’s core knowledge. The benefits to obtaining a SAT tutor are endless and are highly recommended.

Stay Focused and Determined

It’s perfectly normal to be overwhelmed or even get discouraged at some point along your preparation journey, but have no fear because in the near distant future, this test will be behind your teen and you will have a student on their way to college! Preparing for such a big test can take a long, long time but, like all good things, success comes to those who put in the effort. If your teen seems overwhelmed or like they need a break, offer them one. Test preparation time doesn’t need to be run like you are a drill sergeant, but you should help them stay focused and working toward their weekly goals.

In Summary…

This is a big test for your teen. They already know the pressure is on when it comes to preparation and taking the test so make life more manageable for them by sitting down together and creating weekly study goals. Enroll them in the pre-SAT so they can see where their strengths and weaknesses are. If they just aren’t catching on to a subject area and you are unsure of how to explain it to them, reach out and get a tutor. Lots of parents do it, especially for SAT preparation, because it’s a lot of material to study and can be overwhelming at times. Should you do everything in your power and your student still doesn’t quite make the grade, don’t fret. They can always retake the test the following year, giving them a chance to raise their grade.

We are so happy that your student is at My Virtual Academy and we feel that they have the skills needed to succeed at the SAT and upon graduation. Should you have any questions or need additional help preparing your student for the SAT, contact us by calling 855-682-2333 or reaching out to us on our website. Happy studying!

Every Student Can Thrive at My Virtual Academy!

When it comes to your child’s education, it’s best not to have a “one size fits all” mentality because often times, that’s far from the truth. You may have one child who excels in the traditional school setting while another child is falling behind at a rapid pace. The rate and method of how each child learns can be vastly different. Back in the day, there used to be no real option to help out those who needed a different learning environment, but luckily the virtual schools today can do just that.

At My Virtual Academy, we take great pride in helping students with various learning needs. Our school caters to students who have previously been homeschooled, expelled, bullied, are teen mothers, those who have physical and/or mental illness, and even those who are advanced and need a more challenging, accelerated program. Virtual school has been a saving grace for those students who were struggling day in, day out. Our staff works diligently to ensure that every student has the resources they need to succeed!

Often times, when a student starts falling behind, they think their only option is to drop out of school. They are failing classes and they don’t see any way they could turn their situation around. A virtual school like My Virtual Academy could be the light at the end of the tunnel for students in this situation. With virtual schooling, the student learns at their own pace, in the comfort of their own home. It can reduce their stress, allow them to focus on their studies, and get back on the right path. When students make the switch, they often surprise themselves because not only do they make progress, but they thrive in the new school environment.

On the other hand, students who are gifted might be bored in a traditional brick and mortar school. They may need more challenging curriculum and with virtual learning, they will get just that! It is a great option for students who wish to complete their schooling ahead of schedule or want to stay ahead of the game. The rate at which they learn is up to them.

Virtual learning has benefited students with different learning needs, including:

Struggling Students

The traditional classroom isn’t the best learning environment for everyone. Students with learning disabilities find it hard, if not impossible, to learn at the same rate and in the same manner as the other students in their class. They may find it hard to stay seated for a seven hour school day and their minds may wander or daydream and before they know it, they missed the lesson being taught and are further behind. At My Virtual Academy, our curriculum is tailored to each student’s specific needs, making each course more engaging for the student.

Gifted Students

When a student has mastered their grade-appropriate coursework, it’s time to step up the game and keep them engaged and challenged. By providing stimulating assignments, they are allowed to continue to grow and thrive at the pace that is just right for them. Challenging coursework is exactly what they need to continue to expand their mind and we provide just that at My Virtual Academy!

Those Who Need More Support

Have you ever been in a classroom where a lesson was taught but it simply didn’t make sense to you? Chances are a lot of us have been in that situation. It can be embarrassing to ask for help in front of your peers. Aside from that, sometimes it can be hard to get the one-on-one help you need from the teacher because their attention is divided between 20+ students. That’s not the case with virtual learning! You have access to certified teachers along with a district approved mentor. There is two-way communication to make sure your student is getting the support they need.

Students Experiencing Social Difficulties

Bullying can happen to anyone, anywhere but it is prevalent in traditional schools. When someone is the victim of bullying, it affects every aspect of their life. They may not want to go to school or if they are there, they withdraw. They may start to lash out and begin exhibiting bad behavior. They may begin to hang with the wrong friends as means of aligning themselves with people who may be viewed as intimidating to the bully. Removing your student from that environment and placing them in a virtual school may be just the thing they need to get back on the right path. Their threat of bullying is removed and they can turn their attention to their studies.

Those Who Face Unforeseen Hardships

Life happens and sometimes it gives us more than we feel we can handle. Whether your student and/or family is going through a serious illness, divorce, or unexpected pregnancy, they can still stay on track with school and keep moving forward. When facing a major hardship, it can be very difficult to focus on school work. With virtual learning, you can set your own pace instead of being locked into a classroom during regular school hours.

Our wonderful staff at My Virtual Academy works tirelessly to ensure that every student can succeed. It can be a scary thing to venture out and try a new way of schooling but often times, taking the first step is the hard part. Once you see how much your student loves it and that they are flourishing, it won’t take long to see you made the right choice. We think your student will find that working on their own time, in their own home, in a virtual atmosphere works best.

Give us a call at 855-682-2333 and give your student a fresh start. You can also click here to enroll today!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year… For STEM That Is!

Christmas is fast approaching and no matter how old you get, at Christmas time you are always a kid at heart! Keep your middle school kids fascinated by the wonderment of STEM by doing a few of these projects throughout the month. They combine science, technology, engineering, and math to form some pretty cool results!

Simple Science with Snow

Soon the snow should be falling and that will be the perfect time to do this cool science experiment! First up, you’re going to need 3 mason jars. Fill one with ice cubes (not crushed ice), pack one with snow, and fill one about half way with tap water. Next, put the lids on tight and leave the jars on the counter.

Melting experimentAsk your child what they think the control is in this experiment. The correct answer is the water because eventually, all of the jars will be filled with water. Next, ask why they think the lids are needed. They might say that they prevent evaporation and that is correct! It helps keep all the water inside the jars and prevents it from evaporating into the air.

Ask your children at the beginning of the experiment which jar would end up with the most water. Also ask them which do they think will melt faster, the snow or the ice. These are their hypothesizes. If they are making a quick guess, they might assume that the jar packed with snow might have the most water after it melts. Let them wait and see what happens!

Changes will start happening quickly, so encourage your child to make observations. They could document what they are observing in a science journal. Times should be noted along with their observations so they see how quickly (or slowly) changes are occurring. They’ll start to notice that the snow actually melts a lot faster than the ice cubes; however, very little water is left over once the snow melted.

The ice could take up to a few hours to melt completely but when it’s done melting, how much water were they left with? The results usually surprise those making the observations. They are left wondering how did the ice cubes, which had a lot of air surrounding them in the jar, melt and give a higher volume of water than the snow? It’s all about the structure of the molecules!

Water molecules take on different structures depending on the state they are in. When water is frozen, it is in its solid state (ice). The molecules are tightly stacked together. If you take a look at the molecules of snow, their molecules fuse together into a crystallized form, giving us the amazing crystal patterns that come to mind when we think of a snowflake.

With this in mind, explain that even though the snow was hard packed into the mason jar, the molecules are still not as tightly fused as they are in the ice cubes. That’s why when the ice and snow melted, the ice yielded more water.

Crafting an Ice Lantern

This is a wonderful, easy outdoor decoration to make that will wow your friends and family every time they come over!

To get started, you will need the following supplies:

  • Large plastic Solo cup
  • Small plastic Solo cup
  • Food coloring
  • Tape
  • Water
  • Room in your freezer (or the outside temp must be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Candle, battery operated only
  • Decorative items (beads, pipe cleaners, pompoms, tinsel, tiny bells, etc.)

To give you a quick synopsis of how this project works, you will add your decorations to the large cup, and then insert the small cup into the larger cup. You will then be adding water to the large cup, allowing it to freeze afterwards. The end result will be your ice lantern.STEM Project

So, to first get started, have you child think carefully about how they will use their decorations. If you drop your beads, pompoms, and other tiny decorations inside the cup, they will just fall to the bottom. Have them think how they could use all of the decorative items to decorate the entire lantern, not just the bottom. Here’s a hint: they could spiral the pipe cleaners up the side of the cup. The will look like garland in your final lantern and will help to hold the other items in place as they are put in. Let your child know that no matter how carefully they lay out their decorations, they will move some when the water is poured in, and that’s OK.

After the larger cup has been decorated, slip the small cup inside of it. Now you will need to tape the smaller cup in place, so that both cups are level with each other.

It’s time to add the water! Carefully pour water into the larger cup. As you do this, you will notice that the little cup wants to rise. Adding a bit of weight to the small cup will help with that and will keep the cup securely in its place. You can add little stones or rice as easy weights. Fill the larger cup with water until it is about ¾” away from the top of the glass. You can add a few drops of food coloring to the water if you’d like.

Place the cup in the freezer for several hours until it is frozen solid. Once it’s frozen, have your student look carefully and observe what happened. Even though the smaller cup was weighed down, it has now risen above the larger cup and the water has frozen to the top of the large cup. Explain that this is because the water molecules get tightly packed as the water freezes and it expands in size.

The next step is to carefully remove the cups, starting with the small cup. If the cup doesn’t easily remove, you may need to cut it and remove it in strips. Place your beautiful lantern creation outside for everyone to enjoy! Insert a battery operated candle and it will look beautiful (and since its battery operated, it won’t melt your lantern!).

Do you do any fun experiments with your 5-12th grader during the winter months? Let us know! Head over to our Facebook page and share your experiments with the My Virtual Academy community! If you have any other questions, feel free to call us at 855-682-2333.

 

Blackout Poetry: A unique way to turn your teen into a poet!

Blackout Poetry

Have you thought about introducing your high schooler to the art of poetry? Believe it or not, this doesn’t need to be a drag or something they dread. In fact, by using different methods, teens will love poetry and at this age, poetry can be a great way to express their feelings and creativity. Teens from all over are obsessed with using various forms of printed material to create their poetry. This method is called Blackout Poetry and it’s all the rage.

With blackout poetry, the words that will be used appear in front of the poet in the form of the printed materials, but it’s up to them to breathe new life and significance into the words. The words will take on a whole new meaning as they work to create their poetry.

Blackout poetry is super cool and you only need three things to get started:

  • Printed material (an old book/magazine/newspaper)
  • Sharpie marker
  • Some vivid imagination

The poet will use various words or phrases from the printed material as segments of their poem. Depending on the type of literature they choose to start with, the finished poems would range from silly and off-the-wall, to dark and mysterious. The haphazardness of it all is what makes it fun and unique!

Where to Begin

The student will start with the mindset that creating their poem will revolve around deconstructing their print piece, then reconstructing the words to create their literary masterpiece.

First, the student should read the full page, just as it is. As they read, they should keep an eye out for one word that stands out to them above the rest. This word is very significant and will be considered their “anchor word.” This word should stand out to them because it is powerful, important, and something that speaks to them. Their anchor word should be chosen wisely because it helps guide their imagination and helps shape their work. This word should allow them to spout off different ideas, themes, and topics for their poem. If they are unable to do that, back to the drawing board it is!

With that anchor word in mind, it’s time to reread the page, from top to bottom. As they go, they should circle the words that are related to the anchor word or any words/phrases that speak deeply to them. They will read words that jog an idea or inspire them in other ways – these are the keywords they should circle.

Next, get a separate piece of paper and write down all of the words that were circled in order that they appear in the book or magazine. It’s important to keep them in order and write them as they are written, working top to bottom and left to right. As to not confuse the reader, the completed poem will need to be written in this order.

On another piece of paper, start using some of the words you selected (keeping them in order) to construct the poem. Feel free to remove parts of the word as it might help with the flow of your poem. For example, -ing, -s, -ed endings can easily be removed if it makes the word work better within the poem. As the author of the poem, they may need to try writing several different poems before they find the one that resonates with them and sounds perfect. Often times, they need to revisit the page and see if they missed any words that could be used to help their poem come together. The word needed to complete their poem is usually hiding in plain sight on the page and they just need to take a moment to go back and find it.

Once the poem is perfected, erase the circles around the words that won’t be used in the poem. Next, think of an illustration that would reflect what your poem is about. Draw that over the remaining words that are on the page, being careful not to draw over any circled words.  Next, take your black marker and draw lines through all of the words that are not circled or included in your illustration. Doing so will blackout everything except for the illustration they drew and the words used in their poem. The final result is your blackout poetry!

Check out the links below for some great inspiration for your poetry. It’s really amazing how creative and imaginative some students are!

How did it turn out? Did your teen enjoy creating poetry in this cool, unique way? What was their inspiration? We’d love to see what they came up with! Be sure to take a picture of their finished piece and upload it to our Facebook page so we can share all of the wonderful poetic masterpieces!

Keeping Your Student From Cheating When Schooling Online

Cheating in class

If you think back to the days when you were in school, cheating involved trying to sneak a peek at another classmate’s work or test when the teacher had their back turned. Often times, kids were caught because frankly, they aren’t that good at being sneaky when an adult has a watchful eye on them. Fast forward to school these days – whether we are talking traditional school or virtual learning – and it’s a different world!

Students have access to answers literally at their fingertips. A quick search on the internet will yield answers to almost any question that is on your child’s homework, regardless of the subject. Sometimes that can be beneficial as a means to show parents how to tackle certain math problems for example, but other times it can be an enticing way for a student to cheat and copy the answer from someone else.

If your child is completing their schoolwork online, how do you keep a watchful eye on their internet behavior? How do you make sure that they are doing their own work and not just copying answers from an online forum? There are some helpful pointers to keep your kid on the straight and narrow, so let’s get right into it!

Don’t assume they are cheating.

This is a big one in building trust with your child. Just because someone has the ability to take the easy way out, doesn’t mean that they will. Actually, cheating may seem like the easy way out to parents, but it brings a lot of guilt, frustration, disappointment, and shameful feelings to the student. Often times they are cheating because they don’t understand the material and don’t want a failing grade. Assume the best in your child and their behavior until you have reason to believe otherwise.

Talk to your student.

While you don’t want to assume that they are cheating, you also want to keep your eyes open and not be naïve to the fact that they could be faced with this temptation one day. Having the mindset that your child would never cheat instantly puts up a wall in the line of communication. Sit down sometimes and have a chat with your child. Ask them if they know others who have cheated and if they ever feel tempted to do so. By taking a reasonable approach to the conversation, you are letting your child know it is okay to open up to you should they face this choice.

Open up about your experience.

Were you faced with making the decision to cheat when you were in school? Our children open up to us easier if they feel that we have shared experiences. Share that memory with your child and let them know the decision you made. Did you cheat? Let them know. Then discuss how you felt afterwards, which was probably pretty crummy. Did you opt to give it your all instead of cheating off of a friend? Did you surprise yourself and do better than you thought or did you bomb your test? Open up to your child and you might get a lot back in return by simply sharing experiences.

Observe homework and test taking.

Sure, this step can be time consuming for parents, but sometimes it’s needed. If they were in a brick-and-mortar school, a teacher would be overseeing his/her classroom as they complete their math worksheet or take their social studies test, so the same should be done at home. By overseeing their work, you are ensuring that they aren’t flipping from site to site searching for answers but instead are doing the work on their own.

Ask questions.

Sometimes asking a simple question of how they are doing in their studies will give them the chance to tell you if there is something they are struggling with. If they say they don’t understand a particular lesson, jot a message to the teacher asking for additional help or try to assist them in working through their problem together. This will prevent a snowball effect and will keep your student at the top of their game.

On the other hand, should you notice questionable behavior, ask your student to give you a “refresher course.” If you feel that your student may be cheating on their homework, ask them to act like the teacher and teach you what they are learning. If they can’t explain the material they just learned and are acting fishy, then they may be cheating and you should look into it further.

Discuss your expectations.

Does your child feel pressured to keep all A’s? Help your child ease their mind by discussing what expectations you have of them and their grades. Are you fine with A’s and B’s? Is there a certain grade that they have to get before they can advance to the next lesson plan? Are they cheating as a means of not falling behind? Having an open discussion so that everyone is clear of their expectations can help to reduce school related stress and the need to be perfect and outperform.

Students face a lot of tough decisions on a daily basis and you want to make sure that your student is strong enough to stay away from cheating behavior, even if it means taking a poor grade on an assignment or asking for more time so that they understand the material and can complete the assignment/test on their own.

At My Virtual Academy, we work with students in grades 5-12 who are at various levels of academic ability. We are tuition free and provide everything your student needs to be successful! Our friendly staff and amazing teachers are hoping you’ll come on board and join our school! For more information, please visit our website or give us a call at 855-682-2333.

Families Giving Back. Ways to Give Thanks.

It’s that time of year again! The leaves are falling, turkey is to be had, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to turn your family’s attention away from football and the big feast and figure out ways to “give thanks” and give back to the community. Often times, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to forget about those who are less fortunate than us. Sit down with your family and brainstorm various ways that your family can come together and give back to those in need.

To get the ideas flowing, we’ve jotted down some wonderful ways that your family can start to give thanks. Does your family already have a way that they give back and give thanks each year? Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page. Let’s hear all the great ways that My Virtual Academy helps the community now and all year!

Fundraise for a charity

We’re all familiar with the Salvation Army bell ringers that are at storefronts during the holidays. They are hard at work in the frigid temperatures to raise money for those in need. Your child could do the same! Now, we don’t mean have your children ring bells or ask strangers for money, but maybe leave flyers on your neighbor’s doors stating that you are doing a bottle and can drive with the money benefiting a charity of your choosing. Or, you could go door-to-door asking for donations from those neighbors that you know. They also could ask bring up their fundraising endeavor to relatives and see if they will contribute.

Another fun, creative way to fundraise is to have your kids make holiday cards that they could sell individually or as a bundle of 5 or 10, with the money going towards the charity. Sometimes people like to feel that they are getting something in return for a donation and this would be a creative way to do so. If you choose to fundraise, please always make sure an adult is present when going around your neighborhood. It helps keep everyone safe and lets the homeowner know it’s a legit fundraiser.

Clothing and/or food drive

How many of us have old clothes lying around or clothes that their teen rapidly grew out of during their umpteenth growth spurt? Yes, us too! Why not hold a clothing drive? Shelters are ALWAYS in need of clothing, toiletries, shoes, food, etc. There are a ton of shelters, so all clothing sizes collected could certainly be used and appreciated. You would be surprised at the amount of clothing that people would donate to your cause when they hear you are collecting it. It saves them a trip to the thrift store and helps them thin down their closet!

In addition to clothes, food is of utmost importance for those in need. Collecting canned goods and other non-perishable items is easy, as most people have some that they don’t mind giving, especially during this holiday season.

Making and delivering meals

Volunteering in soup kitchens is a great thing and those kitchens always appreciate the extra help, but everyone and their brother volunteers there during the holidays. You’ll be tripping over other volunteers while you’re there so why not take your good intentions but redirect them to those surrounding you that might need a warm meal too? If you know of someone who might have handicaps that make it hard to make a meal or is elderly and could use some assistance, why not make a little extra at mealtime and make them up a plate? They would be happy to have the warm meal and the relieved burden that they didn’t have to worry about what to cook that night for dinner. Have a relative or neighbor who might be lonely? Why not invite them over to dinner? A hot meal and friendly conversation goes a long way and could make their day.

Handwritten notes of thanks

‘Tis the season for “giving thanks” so why not put the pen to paper and write a note of thanks? Have each person in your family write down people who made an impact on their lives or who simply did something nice or thoughtful that deserves recognition. The list could include teachers, coaches, mentors, tutors, siblings, parents, bosses, neighbors, etc.

You can either make the cards out of paper at home or purchase blank cards inexpensively at your local arts and craft supply store. Have each person pen a thoughtful letter giving thanks to that person in their life. Then, simply drop them in the mail with postage or hand-deliver them for an extra personal touch. We often think of things we wish we had said to someone once they are gone, so take this as a golden opportunity to let them know how much they mean to you.

November is a wonderful kick-off to the holiday season so start the season off right by lending a hand. Getting your kids involved teaches them from their youth that helping others in your community is an outstanding thing to do. After all, we know what they say, “it takes a village.”

Have you liked our Facebook page yet? Our staff at Back On Track is always sharing important information concerning both you and your student so head over and start following us today!

Why Choose a Virtual Academy? How will I know if it’s right for me?

In years past, when a child was enrolled in school, they attended in the traditional brick-and-mortar building. That was the only option. Didn’t matter if the child was gifted and needed a more challenging curriculum, if the child struggled and needed additional time or other ways of learning, or if they had other challenges that prevented them from excelling in that setting. They were essentially stuck and often times, those who struggled ended up dropping out. Those who were advanced were left unchallenged and not learning at their full potential. The good news is that times have changed and there are many ways a child can obtain an education – and that includes learning from the comfort of their own home, at their own pace!

At My Virtual Academy, we take pride in serving those in grades 5 through 12. Our staff is exceptional and we use flexible learning methods to prepare students for their future. We work with many different students such as those who are:

  • homeschooled
  • struggling in their current school
  • looking for an accelerated program
  • bullied
  • coping with a physical or mental illness

Our online program provides a unique learning experience and is set up to help your student achieve academic success!

Virtual schools are vastly different from their traditional counterparts. Here are some things to ponder as you explore if virtual learning is the right move for your child:

Tuition is FREE

Free is always good, right? Other virtual schools charge tuition but when you enroll with My Virtual Academy, tuition is FREE! This takes a big weight off of the shoulders of our families and allows them to direct their attention to what matters most – their child’s success! We want your child to start off on the right foot and for that reason, in addition to being tuition-free, we provide them with everything they need to be successful…this includes a computer and all required software while in the program.

A Dose of Flexibility

It’s not always realistic to have set, mandated school hours. Appointments come up; kids get sick; life can sometimes get in the way. Instead of falling behind or being reprimanded for missing part of the school day, your child completes the coursework on their time frame. They complete the coursework when it’s best for THEM. Some online courses may ask them to participate in a real-time meeting, but almost everything is done on their own time. Also, it’s important to note that coursework can be completed just about anywhere that has the Internet! If you have downtime in between appointments or are traveling, your student can easily stay caught up on their studies.

Extraordinary Materials and Staff

All of our teachers are certified in the state of Michigan and have worked diligently to prepare thorough, exceptional lesson plans. As we mentioned, we want your student to succeed. We provide a computer and software that is necessary for our virtual school. Our coursework is relevant, current, and competitive and will keep your student on the fast track to success.

Bully-Free Zone

Bullying is all too prevalent these days, especially at school. We work hard to advocate for those who have been bullied in the past and it is not tolerated on any level at our school. Students who have been the victim of bullying in their previous school should feel safe and secure knowing that they are working from the comfort of their own home. That should reduce anxiety related to schooling and help your child direct their focus on getting good grades, which is where it should have been all along.

Paced Learning

Whether your child works at a high rate of speed or needs a bit more time to rehash their studies, we’ve got them covered! Your child may choose to work their way through at a faster rate, therefore completing their education much quicker than if they were in a traditional school. This is a great option, particularly for those who are eager to enter college or the workforce sooner than expected. On the flip-side, if your student needs additional time when it comes to their schoolwork, that’s okay too! They are behind the wheel, so to speak, and there isn’t any pressure from teachers if they need a little more time.

Self-Motivated, Independent Scholars Excel

By its nature, virtual schools tend to be less structured than traditional classrooms. Children who are self-motivated and who prefer to work independently rather than in groups really excel with this learning method. Your student will remain in frequent communication with their teachers and mentors, who will help keep them on track and on the path to graduation. Even with those check-ins, they’ll have enough space where they can work on their own without someone monitoring their every move.

We strongly believe that My Virtual Academy will be the perfect fit for your child. Should you have any additional questions or would like to enroll your child, please reach out to us online or by phone at 855-682-2333.

Scavenging for All Things Fall!

Fall Trees

When fall finally rolls into town, we’re all ready for it! The dog days of summer have come and went and we are ready to start nestling down in our cozy sweaters and fall boots. It’s also a time when people love to be outdoors. The beautiful leaves are changing colors and beginning to fall, the air is crisp and fresh, bonfires are to be had and chili is to be made. It’s the perfect time of year, especially in Michigan!

To get your kids outdoors and active when the weather starts to dip, why not entice them with a fun fall scavenger hunt? There are all types of things they could look for and places to go do them. You could explore a nature center, a metro park, or even simply your own back yard.

Not only will the kids learn about science, but you can also incorporate math and maybe learn a bit about history too, depending on where you decide to hunt. Encourage kids to really take in the beauty and nature around them and look at things with a keen eye.

You may want to pack along binoculars, bug catchers, and magnifying glasses so they can observe what they see. Sometimes all it takes is looking at something in a different way to spark a love of nature in someone! Also, make sure to bring along a pencil for checking off the found items and a little Ziploc bag to bring home found treasures!

Scavenger hunts can be fun for all ages, too. Even the tiniest of kids can forage around looking for easy to spot things. As your children get up in age, make the hunt harder and include things like certain types of leaves, hard to find nuts or berries, and different types of animal tracks. It really is a fun event for all in the family, regardless of age!

We’ll provide links at the bottom to free printable scavenger hunt pages for your younger children, but if you have children that are older in age, don’t fret because there are plenty of ways to get them immersed in the outdoors too.

Middle Schoolers

As the parent of a tween, it can sometimes be a challenge to get them motivated and off the video games or phones and into the outdoors. If there’s something else that we know about tweens, it’s that they love to eat, so pack some of their favorite foods and hit the road. Pack a lunch and make an afternoon of your adventure! Drive a little bit to a new state/metro park where there is lots of room to roam and places to discover!

Next, try to look for new things, like fox tracks or unique birds that are native to that area. Kids this age will get bored if you make the scavenger hunt too simple. Asking them to look for harder to spot items will make your exploration that much more fun. If you have a tween who is resistant to the idea of a scavenger hunt, then take the lead and point out interesting or unique things along your walk. This will get them learning about their environment in a more subtle way.

Have activity trackers? Another way to get your middle schooler interacting with the outdoors is to put those puppies to use and have a good, old-fashioned competition! See who can get in the most steps by taking different paths to the creek or who can get their heart rate pumping when choosing the hilly trail instead of the flat, lower level trail.

Hiking is a sure fire way to build up your appetite so take a minute to meander over to the lake or a favorite spot you found along your path and have a picnic lunch. If you’re by the lake or pond, you could discuss what type of fish you think are in there, how different species affect the balance of the pond, and perhaps you could even discuss the types of boats you see on the water and why people chose to cruise on a kayak or sailboat versus a speed boat. The opportunity to learn and engage your child is everywhere you look when you are outdoors. Nature is your classroom and everything provides a learning experience!

High Schoolers

Getting your teens out for a fall nature hike is a bit easier than it is for those in the tween years. Often times, they are up for the exercise and enjoy a change of scenery. Offering to bring a friend or two along never hurt either!

Instead of having a print out of things they are looking for, keep your teens involved by stopping to point out things along the way that you find interesting or that they could research. For instance, if you find a patch of unique greenery, ask them if they know what it is. If they don’t, you could encourage them to bring out their cell phones, do some detective work, and determine what it is. Same goes for determining what type of trees are in their forest around them. Are the leaves broad or narrow? Soft or needle-like? Is the plant they see poisonous or okay to touch? Can they identify a bird just by their song?

The questions about things they will encounter are vast and by asking them to research and find out the answer, everyone will be learning!

Keep an eye out for the following and try to get your high schooler to identify them:

  • Berries
  • Trees
  • Birds
  • Plants
  • Rivers and where they flow
  • Various types of seeds or pods
  • Animal holes or homes

You can learn things in any environment and at any age! The world is a great place to explore and there are many parts that remain unknown. Getting your child engaged and interested in the world around them will help them care for and protect our planet and is a great thing to do.

Have little ones and are looking for free printable scavenger hunt ideas for the fall? Check out these pages for great, easy-to-follow hunts for you child:

We have a passion for learning and would love to help instill that in your child too! If they are in grades 5-12, we would love to discuss how virtual learning could help your child. Please click here for more information. The staff at My Virtual Academy looks forward to hearing from you!

Stress Under 18. It’s the Real Deal.

stressed teenOften times, as adults, we think our children don’t have a care in the world. We think they should have no reason to have stress or worries, but a study done by the American Psychological Association says we should rethink that. In fact, it revealed that 1 in every 5 children worry a great deal and stress like that can take a toll both mentally and physically. Just like everything else, knowledge is power so let’s explore signs to watch for, reasons why children tend to be stressed out, and ways to help them cope.

Carrying the Weight of the World

When a child’s only responsibilities are to focus on school, help around the house, and possibly partake in an extracurricular activity or two, parents often dismiss the notion that their child is under stress. After all, they have no bills to pay, mouths to feed, why should they be stressed, right? Actually, we couldn’t be more wrong!

Kids under the age of 17 have noted that they often feel stressed about keeping good grades in school, financial struggles within their family, and getting into a good college. Frequently, stress comes from peer groups and pressure to fit in at school, parents going through a divorce, switching schools, and other outside sources. This pressure to perform at a high level makes their stress unbearable.

Stress can also come from what they observe in their surroundings. Every day, the news gets worse and worse, it seems. Is the TV on where they are listening and worrying about what is occurring in the world? Do they overhear you talking about marital problems, financial burdens, or possibly an ill loved one? You may think they aren’t listening and taking it all in, but kids are more observant than we think.

Buried in HW

How will you know if your child is having a high level of stress? There are some key things that you can look for, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Short temper
  • Sleeplessness
  • Feeling sick; upset stomach
  • Irritable
  • Wanting to withdraw
  • Bed wetting
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Lying
  • Bullying
  • Nightmares
  • Thumb sucking, in younger children
  • Big change in academic performance
  • Defying authority

Ways to Minimize and Cope with Stress

If you found yourself able to check off some of the signs above, then most likely your child is like many others and is experiencing some level of stress in their life. Stress that is left to fester and build up can cause many other problems, even in children and young adults. Some youth have had cognitive impairment, depression, increased heart rate, and suffered from exhaustion.

No parent wants their child to suffer from those ailments, especially at such a young age so it’s important to have some tools in your belt that will help you and your child work together to minimize the stress they are experiencing.

First off, make sure to let them know that you are there for them. This doesn’t have to always be a big, forced, and drawn out, serious conversation. Just by being present with them and asking about their day can go a long way. They need to know that you are there and made time for them each day.

If they don’t feel like talking, don’t push. If you happen to know what they are stressed about but they don’t want to talk, just let them know that you’re ready when they are. They’ll eventually come around.

If your child will discuss what is bothering them, listen first, and then do not minimize their worry. Instead, work with your child to brainstorm ways to improve their situation and reduce the stress. We are a society who values being busy but maybe it’s time to cut back. Do they have too many obligations and would they feel better if perhaps they did just baseball instead of baseball, soccer, and tennis? Freeing up some downtime might make a huge difference.smiling student

Sometimes it helps talking to a teacher or other adult if they don’t want to open up to a parent. You may be disappointed if they don’t choose you to confide in, but the important thing is that they are hashing out their stressors with a trusted adult and making positive progress.

As we mentioned, the news can be particularly worrisome so if it’s on or being discussed amongst adults, take the information being discussed and tweak it to fit the age of the child. Sometimes just an explanation can set a young ones mind at ease. Older teens may ask lots of details, while younger children don’t need to know all of the nitty gritty.

Often times books can be a subtle way of showing coping mechanisms for stress. Good books can be a fun, less threatening way of showing how others faced stressful situations and made changes to better their situation or reduce their load.

Lastly, if you have exhausted every avenue but your child is still facing extreme stress, it may be best to have them speak with a counselor or psychologist to work through their challenges. Keep in mind, some stress is perfectly natural. Everyone has some degree of stress, from toddlers to adults, but when it starts to affect daily living or your health, it’s time to take action.