Middle school students are in a period of transition in many ways. They are discovering what kind of learners they are, what their defining interests are, and many more things about themselves. Is online learning appropriate at this time in a student’s life?
The social structures and hierarchies found in middle schools can sometimes trend toward unhealthy behaviors and unrealistic expectations, even in spite of the efforts of surrounding adults. There is so much to navigate socially in middle school; even how a student dresses or does their hair or what music they listen to can lead to acceptance or rejection by one’s peers. In some schools, it may be “okay” to be smart, but not “too smart” or it may be completely unacceptable to lag behind academically. Speaking up to ask a question may result in being laughed at, while being too quiet may cause one to be left out completely. These social pressures can affect a student’s sense of identity as well as their ability to perform academically. With all this to worry about, no wonder many middle schoolers struggle.
Learning independently in an online setting allows students to develop their own learning styles and work on their own timelines. They do not have to conform to the social structures around them or worry about what they are going to wear to school that day. The focus can be on learning on their own, learning what study strategies work for them, and learning about themselves, without as much peer pressure. GlobalED’s online middle school students have access to their Life Coach, their teachers, and social and emotional learning opportunities daily. Middle school is about developing the whole student. Online middle school students have space to discover their best learning schedule, tools, and habits and to become their best selves.
Online learning does not isolate students; instead, online learning allows students to choose their social interactions. Students and their families can choose which interactions and settings are healthy and appropriate and which ones may not be suitable. Students can participate in local sports, arts, and extracurricular activities. Family and community events are great places for students to learn to interact socially. They can attend their local GlobalED Education Zone to meet with their Life Coach and interact with other students. Students are never forced into uncomfortable social interactions, but they can choose to participate in clubs, activities or programs offered by their online school.
Bullying has unfortunately become a major issue in many middle schools. Bullying is distracting and disruptive and can even have life long consequences for the bullying target as well as the perpetrator. Disrupting the pattern of bullying and abuse by switching to online school can allow for positive changes. Students can study without fear or distraction. At GlobalED, they can access social and emotional resources available through BASE online platform. Group and individual counseling is available through State of Grace. Students can work on their academics and grow as individuals at the same time. They can reflect on their social interactions, learn about self-esteem, and discover what is important to them. Their Life Coach is there to guide them and to link them with any wrap-around services that may help them to grow.
Online middle school can be a great choice for students, especially if the online school has a focus on the whole student. With strong academics, wrap-around services, social and emotional learning, and caring adults who work with students daily, online school can provide just the right setting for support during this transitional time in students’ lives.