Edtech and eliminating angst: The ‘convenience’ of online school for mental health 

*This content is brought to you by Valenture Institute 

Better off online than at school? More and more kids are actively choosing to take control, online.

“I’ve seen shy kids, in particular, thrive online,” says Sarah Elphick, Faculty Lead at Valenture Institute, a global online high school. “It’s wonderful to see them truly come out of their shell.”

A recent article by Edutopia.com notes that a lot of teachers are saying that some of their students, like shy kids and hyperactive kids are suddenly doing much better academically, as well as mental health-wise, in remote learning environments as opposed to in a physical classroom.

But why shy kids in particular?

In an online high school environment, there are no back rows. There are no cliques. There is no bullying. No forced interaction. Students can just be who they are without worrying, as they often do at traditional school, whether they are fitting in or not. Kids learn way more independently and take charge of their day and have time to pursue their passions during school hours.

“It is very convenient for me and my mental health since I have control over my work plan and I can semi-control my week,” says one student.

Read also: ‘Upgrade’ to online learning without forgoing fun, tradition, or ethos

At Valenture, students are supported by dedicated mentors who guide them on a daily basis along their academic journey. Mentors help find the best possible strategies, tools, and solutions for students to manage their workload effectively. These mentors then feedback to teachers. Therefore, it is a very customised approach, where every student is seen and recognised for their individuality, and unique learning style.

Destroying the idea that there is one way to ‘do school’

The overwhelming mainstream perception is still that online classes are not social and that by attending an online school, students aren’t socialised ‘properly’. ‘Students need face-to-face interaction with their peers’ is always the sentiment, right? But who’s to say what’s ‘proper’ and what’s not? This is 2021, after all.

“We can make up our own minds,” says a Junior High Valenture student. “Unlike at my previous school, there was this fake ‘we are a family’ vibe, masked as a ‘snitches get stitches mentality’”.

Students who don’t fit the mould of traditional schooling, whether they realised this pre-COVID or just as pandemic restrictions started lifting and had to, reluctantly, return to the conformity of school, are conveniently eliminating a lot of their everyday angst by sticking to online school.

“Prior to her joining Valenture, she had an unhealthy peer group…,” says a dad about his 16-year-old daughter. “She’s an empathetic child with a heightened awareness of her emotional surroundings.” Traditional school just didn’t fit.

Read also: What will a 2021 high school classroom look like?

Laurie, another parent and an admissions counsellor at Valenture Institute, says her son is an online kid through and through. “He socialises more than ever since leaving school,” she notes. “He loves online gaming with his mates.”

Students can make more friends online gaming than they ever did at school. Or in the Zoom breakaway rooms as they chat through their next task or exam. Simthandile, 16, a Junior High student at Valenture, says that she loves the breakout sessions and that it’s a space for her to discuss whatever she’s concerned about with her friends. Some even take these friendships offline, onto Whatsapp.

2020 brought a lot of change. And in 2021, we have to face the fact that brick and mortar schools don’t do a lot of kids any favours by forcing them to attend and interact in a manner that is unnatural to them and their specific needs.

You can still apply to have your child join Valenture Institute in 2021. Late enrolment deadline: 31 January. Learn more >>> https://www.valentureinstitute.com/discover/admissions-jan-south-africa

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