SALISBURY, N.C. – As many parents struggle to balance work or look for jobs while helping their children with online learning, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is offering solutions free of charge with its new Parent Teacher Assistant Toolbox, a free, self-paced course that includes resources and professional coaching.

The course was developed specifically by the College’s R3 (ReFocus, ReTrain, ReEmploy) team to help working and job-seeking parents who are challenged with helping their children successfully navigate a virtual learning environment due to COVID-19. Available online, the Parent Teacher Assistant Toolbox features helpful tips and advice, as well as personal guidance from a Parent Teacher Assistant (PTA) coach and an opportunity to network with other parents.

“We have heard from many frustrated parents who are realizing that virtual learning may not be short term,” said R3 Director Keri Allman. “With a multi-entry enrollment, parents can join at any time. More time availability is definitely a need for parents and this toolkit, along with the coach assistance, will help create a more flexible schedule during this journey.”

While the course is designed for parents of students in kindergarten through eighth grade, the resources can be helpful for any parent wanting to get organized, build their own skills, and create a beneficial home learning experience.

Participants have round-the-clock online access to all course content, as well as weekly meetings with their coach. The R3 team also is available to assist anyone who needs to learn or brush up on computer skills to participate.

“This course is completely self-paced,” said Gina Pinyan, Parent Teacher Assistant Toolbox coach and a former public school teacher. “We want to make it as convenient as possible for parents, and we know it might be 10:30 at night when the house is finally quiet and they have some time to devote to exploring these tools.”

While the course does not include tutoring, its services and resources are designed to equip parents to assist students with schoolwork. Course content includes “cheat sheets” and refresher information in areas such as math, reading and writing.

“We want to equip parents to feel more comfortable assisting students, whether that means a refresher on finding a common denominator, tips on essay writing, or techniques for engaging a student who isn’t motivated to learn online,” Pinyan said. “If a parent needs additional assistance improving their own skills, the R3 team can help with that, as well.”

The Parent Teacher Assistant Toolkit is available at no cost, thanks to fee waiver opportunities and scholarship awards through Better Jobs for Better Lives in Rowan County and other sponsors.

“It’s one thing to check the box and say, ‘Yes, we’ve done school today,’ but it’s another to feel that it has been a success. That is where the Parent Teacher Assistant Toolbox can make a difference,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “This program offers creative solutions for parents who are struggling. While they are not teachers, we know they want to supplement the teacher’s role and provide the best online learning experience possible for their children.”

Anyone interested in getting started with the Parent Teacher Assistant Toolbox may call 704-216-7201 or email R3 hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.