We often celebrate the sacrifices that U.S. military personnel make for our nation, and we tout the benefits we gain from their protection and service. Less is spoken about the sacrifices that military families make when their loved ones are deployed, when they have to pack up their belongings again, or when their children have to try to navigate another new school culture. There’s got to be a solution, right?
Currently 1.6 million military children of active duty members live worldwide, according to the Department of Defense. Between 80 to 90% of those children attend various public schools. Since the average military family moves a significant 3 times more often than civilian families, the children of military members face unique and difficult experiences when they have to switch schools. However, the rise of online schools provides solutions for the military families searching for a better and effective way to help their children avoid the pitfalls of changing schools and the difficult to navigate environment of today’s public school systems. Northgate Academy, an online Christian school, offers solutions to these common problems that arise for military families with children in high school.
Maybe you’re raising the kind of high school student who just rolls with the punches. Change doesn’t bother them, and “ain’t nothin’ gonna get them down.” That’s amazing! But that’s also enormously unique. Most teens struggle with change, and when they switch to a new school or district, they have to learn a whole new set of expectations and policies within that new district. Not only is registration different from district to district, but behavioral and academic policies can vary widely, too.
In one school, students might be allowed to eat lunch outside, while at another, students are considered truant if they take a single step outside the door without permission. In one school, students might be expected to line up in an orderly manner outside their teachers’ classrooms, while in another, students wander in and out as they please. Some schools have 1:1 tablet/iPad policies and work is all submitted online, while others offer a single computer lab with 20 year old computers gasping for their last breaths. One school might require a strict uniform or dress code, while another bans certain colors or color combinations because of gang associations.
Since schools are all so different, this can really cause some difficulty for the teens of military personnel. Sure, we like to think about our teens as buoyant, but for the most part, they need consistency more than anything. Online programs provide that consistency for your child. They never need to experience any sort of confusion. Our policies might vary slightly from year-to-year as new topics arise, but overall, one of our goals is to provide a safe, consistent environment for our students so that they know from year to year they can rely on us for stability and support.
Because some military kids move enough that they end up attending as many as nine different schools between kindergarten and 12th grade, academic gaps often arise, and it’s not very encouraging that only 41% of military families report feeling that their students’ schools met their needs. Educational standards between states vary greatly. From Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey ranked at the top of the U.S. education system to New Mexico, Alaska, Alabama, and Louisiana ranked at the bottom, there’s a large gap between these positions.
Additionally, military families report that because of the large gaps in education between districts and states, their children end up losing educational opportunities. Mid-year moves make it difficult to maintain academic progress, and those moves also can eliminate a student’s opportunity to take advanced classes. Not only that, but different states have different testing and graduation requirements, adding to the layers of stress military families face in the midst of a move.
With online school, your child doesn’t have to worry about coming into a new school and losing skill or having to jump in to a school that’s far ahead of them. Students at Northgate have the opportunity to complete their work wherever they are around the globe. They can smoothly and consistently transition from 9th to 12th grades without skipping a beat, regardless of their location.
New School Cultures
Some schools value high achievement and declare all of their students “college bound,” while others just beg their students to show up. Some schools are upbeat and positive, while others are straining to keep their heads above water. School cultures are as different as each individual inside them, and that can be a lot to navigate as a high school student. That means that on top of the academic changes they have to navigate, students from military families also have to navigate a whole new school culture when they move. Figuring out where your place is in a school can be exhausting, so at some point, many kids of military families who have moved frequently just give up and isolate themselves.
Online school gives your child the opportunity to work on school work with a less hectic schedule, alleviating the need to “fit in” within a school. Because NGA’s curriculum and schedule provide plenty of time for your student to be involved in youth group, community athletics, theater, the arts, or volunteer work, they don’t have to feel isolated, and they also don’t have to figure out how to acclimate to yet another school.
Since 2001, 2 million children of military personnel have experienced a deployment. This takes a huge social-emotional toll on them. Add to this their experiences of having to change schools and adjust academically and socially, and it just seems like an awful lot to expect of young people trying to figure out who they are and how they fit in with the world around them. The sacrifices made by military families are significant enough without the unnecessary stressors of changing schools. By enrolling your child in an online school like NGA, you give them the chance to focus on a consistent academic program with consistent expectations and a consistently caring and supportive staff.
About Northgate Academy
If you’re not already a student at Northgate Academy but are interested in using our faith-based online high school program as an accredited choice for your Christian student or as a resource for homeschool coursework, you can check out our programs online. Although we welcome and support our part-time students as well, every full time student at NGA is assigned an Academic Success Coach, can email their instructors with questions, can reach out to staff through online chat and text, and has access to one-on-one tutoring through Train The Brain.
Still have questions? Feel free to send us a text at 763-412-4701 or call us at 800-339-7132. Our academic support team will be happy to answer your questions or help guide you to the best program for you or your child.