What to consider about studying by distance

Study iStock 639710622

Is studying by distance the right option for your young person? Here's how to support them - even if you don't know anything about their subjects.

If your young person can’t attend school in person they will need to study by distance (correspondence) through Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura), either full time or part time.

If your young person’s school doesn’t offer a subject they need, they may be able to study it by distance learning through schemes such as Gateway, STAR, VLN or NetNZ.

Advantages of studying by distance

Studying by distance can work well for self-motivated students, and give them:

  • experience with digital tools and flexible ways of learning
  • more independence
  • skills and confidence for further study.

Students studying by distance can:

  • work at their own pace
  • study at a time that suits them
  • email their teacher anytime
  • attend classes online when they are sick, out of town, or out of the country
  • get one-to-one attention from their teacher
  • get to know students from around the country.

Distance learning students usually benefit from having a study co-ordinator as well as a subject teacher. This happens automatically if they are enrolled full time at Te Kura. Students under 14 will also need an adult to supervise them.

For other distance learning options, find out what support your school can offer.

Does your young person have self-management skills?

Studying by distance works best when students are self-motivated and organised, and work well on their own.

Your young person can probably study by distance, and may not need a supervisor, if they usually can:

  • get to school and class on time, with the books, equipment and sports gear they need
  • work unsupervised to start and finish homework
  • work on their own without others to bounce ideas off
  • ask for help with study if they are struggling.

Can your young person connect to their course?

Students enrolled in online distance education need:

  • a good internet connection and sufficient data
  • a suitable computer device  – not a smartphone.

If you don’t have internet access at home, your local school or library may be able to help. Te Kura students with financial hardship can apply for assistance with a laptop and internet access.

Supporting your young person

Supportive whānau can make a big difference to your young person’s success. Here’s how to support them when they study by distance – even if you don’t know anything about the subject:

  • help them develop good study habits – such as planning the best times during the day to study and to have breaks
  • give them a quiet, tidy space to study in
  • if they are struggling, ask if they’d like you to contact their study co-ordinator or teacher
  • get involved in their learning
  • find out about face-to-face event days they can attend.

It’s also useful to find a mentor to support them, such as an older student or a trusted family friend.

Sign up to the Careers Insight e-newsletter for parents

Updated 1 Sep 2020