Online learning advice from mothers who do it daily

Originally aired on WSFA 12 News – August 9, 2020

Virtual learning begins Monday for Montgomery Public Schools and the first nine weeks are expected to be a big adjustment for students, teachers, and parents.

Many students first experienced online learning at the end of this past school year and, for most parents, the shift to online learning came with a steep learning curve.

But not for Amber Chatham and Amanda Rocha.

They both have two school-aged children who attend Alabama Virtual Academy – a fully online public school. Their children have been doing online learning for four years and counting.

“They weren’t being challenged enough like I wanted them to be challenged,” Rocha said. “So I made the decision to bring them over to the virtual side.”

Both mothers have some tips for families that are tackling online learning for the first time.

Tip number one is to create a work environment in your home that suits each individual child and their unique learning needs.

“Your children are all different. They learn different,” Rocha said. “Let them move around the house. Let them move around the yard and school wherever they need to from home. That way they can really focus and be themselves.”

Chatham said some children do better with a designated work area and frequent breaks.

“It’s important to have that, I have discovered, so that when [school] is over, they can stand up and walk away from it,” Chatham said.

Rocha said her children are even on opposite sleep schedules, but they make it work.

“I’ve got my oldest, who likes to sleep in more, so he’ll start his day later,” Rocha said. “Sometimes he’ll sleep till three or four and work in the evening time. My middle child is up at five o’clock in the morning and he’s done by nine o’clock in the morning.”

Making learning fun is important, too.

“I still remind myself to be intentional with my learning because it doesn’t have to be just ‘sit at the computer or the desk for six, seven, eight hours every day,’” Chatham said. “Any experience that you do with them can be turned into a learning opportunity if you’re mindful and intentional with those interactions with them.”

They said communication with your child’s school is also important.

Chatham said if you respond to teachers and staff when they send emails and make phone calls then help will be reciprocated.

“When I need to reach out to them and say “Hey, I need help with how do I do this, I’m not really sure how to approach this, do you have any suggestions for how I can handle this?” they are much more responsive as part of a learning team,” Chatham said.

Lastly, it’s important to put things into perspective.

“Be patient as you learn through the process. It is a learning process,” Chatham said.

“Just laugh with it,” Rocha said. “Roll with the punches, and you got this.”

“Be honest with yourself and your kiddos. I mean, this is a whole new thing for everybody, but it’s 100 percent attainable as long as you’re willing to work together.”

To learn more about Alabama Virtual Academy, visit

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