One of the biggest concerns brought to our attention when parents are looking to switch from a traditional brick-and-mortar school to a virtual academy is will their child socialize? What opportunities are out there to get their middle/high school child interacting with others of the same age? Will they know how to interact and handle conflict if they aren’t in the traditional classroom setting 5 days a week?
The answer is yes! There are a million ways that your virtual learner can interact with others. From rec center activities to sports leagues and 4H clubs, socialization opportunities are everywhere for your student! Occasionally, parents are left feeling uneasy and they feel afraid that their student simply won’t learn social cues like others their age. We are here to assure you they will learn these behaviors and means of resolution.
As we all know, conflict occurs at every age starting from birth-105. You name the age and there is some type of conflict that needs to be worked through. Whether we are fighting with a sibling over a favorite toy as a toddler, a bully at school as a youngster, or a nasty coworker as an adult, conflict is all around us and we need to know how to deal with it.
Some of you reading this may have chosen to homeschool your child because of bullying at their previous school. It can affect your child’s self-esteem and can start to rear its ugly head in your child’s academic performance. When someone is being bullied, signs show up in all facets of their lives.
As we mentioned, conflicts will appear in every stage of life. No matter where a student is taught, parents, teachers, and students need to collaborate and teach each other how to resolve them. As adults, we need to be the ones in control and teach our students what is right and wrong. Your child’s eyes and ears are focused on you and how you handle situations. The advice you pass to them, especially by example, is a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously.
It’s important not to shelter them from every experience where they may engage in unpleasant behavior because these times will help them learn conflict resolution. However, you also don’t want to throw them to the wolves and put them in a bad situation.
To build up their interpersonal communication skills, have them interact on a regular basis with a variety of folks, such as:
- family members
- authority figures, such as teachers
- fellow students
- employers (should they have a job)
- groups (sports teams, field trip groups, community activities)
They will be exposed to a wide variety of characters through these interactions. It’s even important to have them safely interact with strangers. Teach them to hold the door open for people or help a handicap person reach something off of a high shelf in the grocery store. These interactions go a long way.
Let them know that everyone has different ways of doing things and they should also know that they won’t gel with everyone they meet. However, with that said, even if they conflict with another person, they can still take the high road and be kind.
As we mentioned, your kids have observed you and how you handle situations of conflict so it’s important to always remember to be a good role model. On the flip side, you can actually observe them and offer them suggestions on how to resolve their conflict. Let them know what you think they did right and what they could do differently, should the issue arise in the future.
As kids get older and enter their teenage years, the level of conflict can reach dangerous heights. It goes from bickering on the playground in elementary years to teens physically fighting or causing lasting emotional damage. Not all conflicts need to reach that level so express to your teen that if they identify a problem, they need to proactively work toward a solution before it escalates.
One good exercise to have your teen do is analyze what their own triggers are. They could also think about what triggers their friends or family members. If teens are aware of their triggers, they can make a plan of how they will handle the situation, should someone set them off.
When conflict arises in life, we should all work to identify what caused it, try to stay calm, and work out a solution that meets everyone’s needs. Make it a win-win situation. If you notice that your child is unable to mediate their own conflict, then as adults, it’s time to step in and respectfully address the issue.
Want to connect with other parents that may be facing the same issues as you? Hop over to our Facebook page and start interacting with the My Virtual Academy community. Our staff is always posting school events, activities to do with your teen, and much more. If you have any other questions about whether a virtual learning environment is right for your student, give us a call at 800-297-2119.