When it comes to education, one size does not fit all. Some students will be able to maintain both academics and a positive relationship with their faith while attending public school while others flourish in a Christian, faith-based school setting. Some students thrive in a more pre-determined schedule while others require flexibility and time to explore their personal interests. Some students will grow as an individual in a heavily social environment while others learn who they are much better away from the influence of the crowd. Students are individuals and all people are individually made.
What we at faith-based Northgate Academy have witnessed is that for some students with special needs, online school offers a variety of benefits.
A healthy parent-child relationship is founded on the idea that the parent’s job is to help their child learn how to be as independent as possible. This level of independence is going to change based on each individual child.
Online academics are one way that parents can help increase their children’s independence. Parents of students with special needs can work side-by-side with their child when it’s appropriate to help them succeed, but they can also walk away and encourage independent learning to help push them to try new skills on their own. Being able to determine when your child needs to work independently and when they need guidance is one of the best benefits of online learning for students with special needs.
That type of flexibility is what often attracts families to online education programs in the first place: the chance to do what is best for your individual child. Along with having the flexibility to decide when your student needs independent learning time and when they need guidance, online programs like those at NGA also provide a flexible schedule for all of our students.
What this looks like depends on the specific needs of every individual and family. Some students perform better when they can focus on one or two classes at a time. With Northgate Academy, students are given 12 months to complete their academic program; how they divide up the work is up to them. That means that students who focus better on one class at a time can do that, while students who prefer flipping between classes to stay motivated can do that, too.
Students also have the flexibility to work during whatever time of day makes the most sense for them. Students with focus problems can take the time to exercise in the morning, get up and participate in another activity midday, and finish their work early enough to move about after school, too. If they work better in the morning, our students can start as early as they need to for optimum focus. If they work better at night, our classes never hang out a “closed sign,” so they can do that, too.
If your student needs special motivation to finish their work, they can schedule to work extra for several days and take an extra day off each week, and if they need extra time to focus on any one lesson that is challenging, they can. We don’t force our students into any schedule other than the generic 12 month enrollment period. That fact provides a lot of specialization for all of our students, and special needs students tend to perform better when academics allow for flexibility.
Less Social Pressure
Social pressure today is no joke for young people. You can provide your children with a foundation built on the tenets of your faith, but peer influence can lead them far away from that in the matter of only a few interactions. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “peers can also have a negative influence. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, cheat, use drugs or alcohol, share inappropriate material online, or become involve in other risky behaviors. The majority of teens with substance abuse problems began using drugs or alcohol as a result of peer pressure. This pressure can happen in person or on social media. Kids often give in to peer pressure because they want to fit in. They want to be liked and they worry that they may be left out or made fun of if they don’t go along with the group.”
This very real pressure can be a major distraction for students who already struggle to learn for one reason or another. The fear of not fitting in because they do not learn the same way as others can also lead to trying to fit in some other way. Online school can keep your child safe from these temptations and negative distractions.
A parent who knows their child well can help them make positive choices about their friend group and how to face other social pressures; online academic programs help protect children from the type of negative social pressure that can arise in a larger school setting. In other words, your child is free to be themselves, figure out who God wants them to be as an individual, and avoid some of the peer group social pressure found in a traditional school environment.
Along with avoiding unnecessary social pressure as a distraction, plenty of other distractions can be avoided in an online academic learning environment. With no more time waiting while teachers take attendance, work one-on-one with peers, or deal with unruly behavior, your student has less time to find themselves distracted. They can focus on their work a lot better without the hubbub of a classroom environment.
Students can wear headphones with no objections. They can take breaks when they need to. And they can even change locations to suit their individual needs. Online NGA students can work wherever they focus best and wherever there are the fewest distractions for them as individuals.
When you have the chance to tailor your child’s learning experience, schedule, and location to their needs, your child has a better chance of thriving both academically and personally. As they find the pace that works the best for them, they will experience the beauty of success, and each experience with success will build their self-confidence.
Building self-confidence will help them feel better about trying new areas of independence, bringing us right back to the goal that parents hold so close to their hearts when it comes to raising their children: help their child learn how to be as independent as possible. Online academics are not the solution for every child’s academic needs, but at NGA, we work hard to provide the flexibility and independence necessary for families to tailor their academic programs for the needs of each individual child.
About Northgate Academy
If you’re not already a student at Northgate Academy but you’re interested in using our faith-based online high school program as an accredited choice for your Christian student, your Christian school, 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 online tutoring.
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.