“It’s All in a Day’s Work.” An Interview With an MVA Teacher

“It’s All in a Day’s Work.” An Interview With an MVA Teacher

Teachers are the backbone of a student’s education. Along with parents/guardians, they help keep their students moving forward when life gets hard and they feel like quitting. We go to great pains when bringing a teacher on board at My Virtual Academy, and we may have a slight bias, but we think we have the best teachers around!

Take a moment to watch this edition of “What’s Up Wednesday” with Renee Weaver-Wright where she interviews one of our high school teachers, Mr. Jason Z.

Jason’s passion for teaching radiates in every word he speaks. Like the rest of our staff, Jason makes it a point to develop personal relationships with the students and takes a strong interest in making sure they succeed. One of his main objectives is inspiring each student he meets to achieve success in their academic lives, which usually translates over to their personal lives.

As a student, contact with your mentors, teachers, and supporting staff is vital to your success. Jason contacts his students on an almost daily basis. This contact allows him the chance to see what his students are working on, answer any questions they may have, give some help with the lesson plan they are working on, and direct them to a Curriculum Specialist if they need additional help.

In this interview, Jason points out that a key difference between traditional school and virtual learning: the teacher-student relationship. Even though you are face-to-face on a daily basis in a traditional school, you forge much deeper relationships when you are in a virtual setting. How and when you can interact is not dictated by the bells at the beginning and end of class. With virtual learning, communication happens much more freely and is more flexible. Teachers become more aware of the challenges and struggles their student’s are facing and they can help guide them along the way.

In addition to being an outstanding teacher, Jason is also the designated “Bell Ringer” at MVA. Want to know why we ring the bell? Tune in here to find out why we have this awesome tradition!

After you watch that episode of “What’s Up Wednesday” with Renee and Jason, reach out to us for more information. You care about your student and their success and we do too. Bringing students in and getting them to graduation is our main objective and your student will be no different. You can visit our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or simply give us a call at 800-297-2119. We are currently enrolling for the 2021-2022 school year so call today!!

Teaching Your Teen Critical Thinking Skills

Teaching Your Teen Critical Thinking Skills

Think back to your grade school days, critical thinking has always been something teachers strive to teach their students. After all, it’s a skill that is vital in life. Critical thinking is when someone thinks independently, clearly, and rationally, by connecting ideas, forming their own opinions, analyzing, and then drawing a conclusion.

There are many opportunities to teach your child how to think critically, so don’t just leave it up to their educators. As human beings, we tend to be curious creatures and with a few strategies and talking points, you can turn an everyday moment into a teachable one.

Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Take a moment to think about the questions you are asking your child. Do you always keep things simple and get one word responses? Change up what you ask. Instead of asking if the sky is blue, try asking why is the sky blue. Just switching the question around a little bit will turn it from a no brainer question to one that they have to think about before answering.

Look to classic literature pieces.

Do you have a teen who loves to read? Encourage them to read the great classics, such as Shakespeare. Classic pieces have characters that are deep and rich. They are sure to get your teen thinking in a critical manner while they think about what will happen next in the story, what the characters motives are, and so on.

Teaching Critical Thinking

Relate questions to real life events.

As we mentioned, life presents opportunities at every turn for one to think critically. Watching the evening news, reading the newspaper, or even simply people watching at the local mall will provide plenty of opportunity to pose questions and have open discussions with your teen.

Ask questions such as:

  • What do you think that person was thinking?
  • If you were in their shoes, what would you do?
  • What were the dangers there?
  • Who were the helpers?
  • How would doing that benefit them?
  • How did their actions help achieve their goal?
  • What were the possible outcomes in that situation?

Questions like these will get them digging deeper and also will get them thinking about how they would respond if they were in a particular situation.

Teach them to sort through information.

A big part of critical thinking is knowing how to dissect vast information. Your teen will need to know what information will be crucial to them when forming their opinion and what information is just “fluff.” They will need to know how to read information given to them and find the useful and pertinent facts relative to their topic. They already do this to some extent when working on project or pulling out which information to focus on when studying for a test. Help your student further develop this skill by reading passages from newspapers or articles online. Ask them to read the story and then let you know their opinion and what information they used to form their opinion. This opens a gateway for a nice dialogue between you and your child.

Correct assumptions.

Remember, your teen’s brain is still developing which is why we are focusing on their critical thinking skills. They might have assumptions or misconceptions of what they are reading. This is a great time to talk with them should you notice their line of thinking isn’t factual. When you give them information that they might not have had or explain to them why their assumption is wrong, you are widening their horizons and broadening their knowledge so never miss out on that opportunity.

At My Virtual Academy, we are always striving to incorporate critical thinking into our lesson plans. With help from parents like you at home, your teen will have the skills needed to be successful for life after graduation. Looking to stay in-the-know with the MVA community? Make sure to “like” our Facebook page. Our staff is always sharing useful information about our school and ways to help your students.

Parenting a Teen through Positive Reinforcement

Parenting a Teen through Positive Reinforcement

Most parents can agree: the teenage years can be rough! Hormones are raging, they are trying to gain more independence, and they spend a lot of time away from their parents and their home while hanging with friends. One minute they love and adore you, the next minute you ruined their life. Can many of you relate?

When tempers flare and disagreements are happening, it’s hard to not resort to yelling and harsh discipline, but studies are showing us that positive reinforcement may be the key to success, not just in the home but also in their school life.

We’ve all heard the saying, “The one who is hardest to love needs love the most.” It’s very hard to set emotions aside and give positive feedback to a student or child who is constantly difficult and making your day-to-day life challenging. It’s easier to yell and put them in their place. Yelling is only making tensions higher and your teen angrier, so let’s try a different approach and see how it works!

As a student at My Virtual Academy, your teen will have weekly interaction with their teachers and mentors. We work hard to provide positive reinforcement during these interactions and bring to the forefront things that the student is excelling with, while still discussing and resolving any areas of concern. These weekly interactions are vital to your student’s success and we want them to be a positive experience that they look forward to.

In regards to school, if you notice your student is struggling, take a different approach and instead of getting mad or grounding your teen, commend them on something that you noticed they did well. Maybe they are having a hard time solving that math problem but they knew what method to use. Give them credit where credit is due. This makes them less defensive and they’ll be more open to your help and guidance.

Students together in a happy circle

Keep in mind, teens are facing difficult decisions on a daily basis that could impact their future. It’s hard to not cave into peer pressure and make the less popular decision, but it happens all the time and teens should be rewarded when the right choice is made.

When we think of “rewards” our mind usually equates that with a monetary value. That’s not necessarily the case and we’ll show you some different ways to entice your teen to be a good, productive student and member of society.

Remember, you DO NOT and SHOULD NOT give a reward for every good thing your teen does. This is a tool in your tool belt to reward them when you see fit. It’s an alternative way of parenting because they’ll be receptive to the rewards and these little rewards will help keep them on the right track. The rewards will let your teen know that you notice the good things they are doing, not just focusing on the bad.

Here are some reward ideas that will reinforce good behavior and deter the bad:

  • Does your teen have a special hobby or interest? Build a reward based on that. Extra skate time at the local skate park or new paints and canvases for their art projects are sure ways to let them feel rewarded and appreciated.
  • Teens always love freedom. How about rewarding good behavior by adding an extra half hour onto their curfew time? This will not only build trust between you, but will give them extra hangout time with their friends.Students hanging out together after school
  • Cook them their favorite meal. Let them know tonight’s dinner will be one to celebrate their successes and ask them to plan the menu so they get their favorite things to eat.
  • Lengthen your teen’s car privileges. If your teen has been on good behavior or did something worth noting, why not give them longer access to the family car? They’ll love the independence and will surely thank you for it!
  • Allow your teen to skip setting the alarm on the weekend. Every teen loves sleep! That’s just a fact. Let your teen know that because of their good behavior, they can sleep in as late as they’d like on the weekend. It’s great not having to wake up to an alarm, and they’ll love it too!
  • Lastly, don’t forget the power of a hug and saying, “thank you.” Thanking them for doing well on their schoolwork or for helping out around the house can go a long way. Show them your love and appreciation and let them know it makes for a much nicer, calmer home when they are keeping up their end of the bargain (getting good grades and doing chores around the house).

Teens are just like us. We don’t like it if all we hear is the negative from our boss at work, so why would your teen respond positively to yelling or nagging? They won’t. That’s why it’s so important to try another approach and always remember to never forget the power positive reinforcement holds!

At My Virtual Academy, we make it our daily mission to help students in grades 5-12 excel and work towards their goal of obtaining their high school diploma. Your student’s success is our number one focus. If you would like to learn more about our virtual school, click here to visit our website, follow us on Facebook, or give us a call at 800-297-2119.

Change: Helping Your Teen Transition To Virtual Learning

Change: Helping Your Teen Transition To Virtual Learning

Change is always scary and is often met with resistance. Even when a child is struggling in their current school, it can be frightening to make a change and begin learning virtually. They most likely understand that their current school environment isn’t working for them. They might be bullied, a pregnant teen, someone who has an illness that prevents them from attending school regularly, or someone who has a learning disability and is falling through the cracks. Even with obstacles mounted against them, change is hard and it’s always a good thing to sit down and have an open discussion about switching up how they school so they aren’t blindsided by the change. Having a talk with your child will help ease anxiety and get them excited about making the change.How to deal with change

Start by explaining why you think switching schools would be beneficial for them. Get their input. Do they perceive the same struggles that you do? Explain how a virtual school, such as My Virtual Academy, would be a positive change. Give some examples on how virtual learning helps them to get their education while solving the problems they are currently facing.

Key points to mention are:

  • Virtual learning provides a flexible learning environment where they can learn from the comfort of their own home.
  • For teen moms, this allows them to care for their baby while completing their studies as the day allows.
  • Bullied teens, are no longer forced to sit in a classroom with students who belittle, tease, and harm them.
  • For those students who have a learning disability or struggle to keep up with the rest of the class, this flexible learning model allows them to move forward at their own pace. They will no longer be rushed through the coursework just to keep up with the rest of the class.
  • Students who have a hard time focusing in a traditional classroom will benefit from working in a calmer, more controlled home environment.
  • For student athletes or those who travel frequently, the ability to learn wherever there is an internet connection is amazing. Students no longer have to worry about falling behind in school while following their passion.
  • Students with health issues can complete their coursework at any time during the day, which frees them up for doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and any other needs that arise.

Make sure you keep your tone light, excited, and eager for the change. Your enthusiasm will rub off on your adolescent. Let them know that they will still have interaction with state-certified teachers and a mentor. They can still socialize with others their age through city sports groups or other local groups that interest them.

Mom helping daughter with changeIt’s important that your child feel free to ask you questions so make sure you are open to that. Since virtual learning is new to them, they may have lots and lots of questions! Let them know that you are there to answer any questions they may have and that if you don’t know the answer, you can look it up together on our website or by giving us a call.

Once your teen is on board, let them help get ready for the change. They will need a nice, quiet study area so let them pick out a few new things for their desk and get some new supplies, like a day planner. They’ll need that to keep track of their time and upcoming assignments. When you let them help organize their area, it gives them some ownership and gets them excited about the new venture.

By working hand-in-hand with your student, changing schools will be a smooth transition. Your teen will feel like they are working on a clean slate with a bright future.

At My Virtual Academy, we work hard to give every student all of the tools they need to succeed. After all, their success is our success. Our staff is available to answer any questions you may have and help with the enrollment process, so please call us at 800-297-2119. You can also browse our website by clicking here and find the answers to many of your questions there.

A child’s education is very important and helps prepare them for their adult life. Don’t let your child have a bad educational experience because they are scared to make the change. Please reach out to us if we can be of any assistance when making this big decision.

Keeping Your Student From Cheating When Schooling Online

Keeping Your Student From Cheating When Schooling Online

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.

Students hugging and supporting each other

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 800-297-2119.

Cyberbullying: Can You Spot the Signs?

Cyberbullying: Can You Spot the Signs?

Think back for a minute and envision the days when you were in grammar school. Chances are when I say the word “bullying,” a few faces probably come to mind instantly. You can most likely think of at least one person who was bullied and at least one person who was the one doing the bullying. Every school had them. They existed in every grade. Some bullying was worse than others, but it affected the kids none the less.

The biggest difference about then and now is that back then, we knew our bullies. We could talk to our teachers, our principals, our parents, and try to work out the differences and at least try to agree to put an end to the bullying. These days, the bully is often times hidden behind a computer where the simple strokes of their keyboard leaves imprints on those they bully forever.

Cyberbullying, or the use of electronic communication to bully a person, is faceless and often times nameless. A person can hide behind the keys, so to speak, and be anyone they want to be and say anything they want to say, often times with no repercussion or consequences. It is for this reason that cyberbullying is on the rise and happens so often. Things are said online that one would never have the courage or audacity to say to someone’s face.

Computer hands

Cyberbullying can occur on social media and various apps that the child is using and often times, the parents or guardians are none the wiser. Sometimes parents may find themselves in a situation where they aren’t even aware of all of the apps and websites that their child visits or has accounts on. The greater their online presence, the greater their chance of being bullied becomes.

Knowing the Signs

The good news is that as parents or caregivers, you are not totally helpless in spotting and addressing bullying. There are some signs that your child may exhibit if they are involved with cyberbullying.

Keep an eye out to see if your child:

  • Hides their screen or device when you or others are nearby and could sneak a peek
  • Won’t discuss what they are doing on the internet
  • Has a sudden increase/decrease in frequency of device use or is using it at strange hours
  • Shows anger or other high emotional responses when using their device
  • Starts to dodge social situations (particularly those that were once loved), becomes depressed, or shows no interest in people and/or activities
  • Creates new social media accounts or deletes their account

If you noticed any of these signs, your child may be involved with cyberbullying.

I noticed some signs. What next?

If your child is showing some signs of cyberbullying, it’s important not to push it to the wayside in hopes that it will resolve on its own. Often times, as a means of avoiding confrontation or having an awkward discussion, that’s what happens. Keep in mind that you are the adult. You are your child’s advocate. You know it’s not right and it needs to stop and be addressed.

Let your child know that you are concerned that something is happening to them online and that often times people pick on others in this manner because they are unhappy and lack confidence themselves. Make sure you talk to your child in a private, nonthreatening setting and remain calm and collected.

If they admit to being bullied, dig deeper to try and find out where the bullying is occurring. Often time’s people need to be blocked or accounts need to be deleted and then reestablished under a new user name. This is unfortunate, but can act as a deterrent for the bully.

If the bullying is happening through a school site, administrators should be contacted immediately to help put an end to the situation. All parties involved should be addressed and the manner should be put to rest. If the bullying continues or starts back up, further action is needed by the school.

Perhaps the best way to understand cyberbullying is by perusing the social media, gaming, and other frequented apps yourself. Having an understanding of how they work and how people interact on these sites may prove to be invaluable, especially when you have the discussion with your child and try to take corrective measures. You may have accounts on these sites and have witnessed the bullying that can occur first hand. Knowledge is power and it will help if you know all about those apps that your child visits.

dude in grass

Luckily, devices often are made with a parental control feature. Some are more detailed than others, but they allow you to have some control over what your child is allowed to do while on the computer/phone/tablet/etc. Make good use of these parental controls. Put a lock on various things that could be of danger or should be regulated. This way, you will have to enter a secret code that you created to give them access to those areas. It’s also advised to change that code on a regular basis.

Always remember, you are your child’s biggest role model. They look up to you in every area. Demonstrate positive behavior and positive interactions with others. Assist your child in building self-awareness and teach them to have empathy for others. This goes a long way.

Cyberbullying will probably always have some hold on the internet, because it’s an easy, faceless way for cowards to attack and prey on others. It’s important for everyone to know what to look for to spot if it’s happening, and what to do if they think it’s occurring.

For any additional resources or tips on how to prevent bullying, visit: