When Kari Feldhaus is not teaching at Apex Learning Virtual School, you might find her out before sunrise helping her husband with the cattle on their family-sized ranch in North Eastern South Dakota. “My husband makes it all happen, but I help out with every job on the ranch – I help out with some jobs just a little and I am very involved with others,” said Kari. “This includes everything from moving cattle, working calves, wrapping hay, hauling hay, doing bookwork, purchasing cattle, selling cattle, and countless other tasks required on a busy ranch.” In addition to the cattle, they also have several horses, quite a few dogs and three kids who keep them busy. She said her three kids also help out on the ranch whenever they are available. “My oldest is in college and my other two are in high school, and I am so glad they are able to experience this life,” she said. “I have never looked back on our choice to live on a ranch and live in a rural community. It is a pretty satisfying way to wake up every morning and go to bed every night.” Working as a virtual instructor for ALVS has allowed Kari to teach Spanish education from her ranch for more than for 15 years. Prior to ALVS, she was an elementary through high school teacher in South Dakota where she was active in the Spanish club, guided student travel in the summer and led curriculum development. “The best part of my job is interacting with my students, and building strong relationships with them, even though we are all working from a distance.” “The best part of my job is interacting with my students, and building strong relationships with them, even though we are all working from a distance,” she said. Kari has several suggestions for how students and families can work together with their teachers, particularly if they’re in a virtual environment, to make the transition to back to school as seamless as possible. 1. Ask questions. Kari recommends students ask for help when they need it. Yes, it can take courage to speak up when you don’t understand something, but it’s important to let your teacher know where you need help. Encourage your student to reach out to their teacher to clarify directions, or let them know where they are struggling. Maybe they need to schedule a phone call or a video chat to guide them through a specific concept. Teachers are there to help, and they want to know when their students need more time and attention. 2. Make a schedule. Maintaining the same schedule every day can get your student in a routine and can keep them from falling behind. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with virtual learning and staying focused on completing a little bit every day can make a big difference in whether or not your student feels on target with their progress. 3. Get organized This could mean printing out the documents for each class and keeping them in separate binders or using a whiteboard to stay organized on the top priorities for the week. However you plan to get organized, find an easy way for your student to keep track of what needs to be completed on a weekly basis. 4. Create a work space. Find a space in your home that makes learning easy. Is it easy for your student to think, to hear and to be comfortable? Creating a space that will keep them focused on their work (and not too comfortable!), can keep them excited about “going to school” every morning. 5. Be patient with yourself. Adjusting to virtual learning is not easy. Recognize that it may take some time for both you and your student to feel comfortable. But you will adjust, and you might even be surprised by how much you enjoy the flexibility and the freedom that online learning can provide to both your student and your family. For more tips and free resources like this, visit: https://www.apexlearningvs.com/blog/.