Anxiety is real. In fact, 1 in 20 children ages 6–17 years old frequently experience severe levels of anxiety.
When you’re a student facing anxiety, traditional school can become overwhelming. There are facing crowds, dealing with drama, dreading tests, fearing to ask for help, the list goes on.
While it’s by no means a cure, online school could be a good solution for these teens.
Studying from the comfort of home
Sometimes, anxiety is debilitating enough that it causes teens not to be able to leave the house. With Primavera, staying at home doesn’t impact a student’s ability to learn. So, if the student is having a bad day, there is a potential for them to still do work. If they can’t, they have the ability to work with teachers to catch back up within the week.
Individual support from teachers and guidance counselors
Asking a teacher for help can be intimidating. There’s the fear of looking dumb or even just having to talk in front of a classroom.
Online students find the lack of a physical classroom much appealing because they ask questions through email, phone calls and instant messaging. If they need extra support, the teacher can hold a 1-1 online session.
Interaction with classmates is different
Digital natives are most comfortable connecting with friends online. Social media is integrated with their lives.
So clearly, if there is a safe way for these students to connect, wouldn’t that be their preferred method?
Students at Primavera come from all over Arizona. That opens opportunities to meet people. They also connect through online class discussions, staff-monitored chats and online student clubs. If they’d like, there are school events to attend in-person as well.
It’s quite a different method of making friends that we believe alleviates a lot of the traditional high school drama.
How to manage anxieties with school as an online student
Be open with it
Talk to your teachers and school counselors. They can’t help if they don’t know. Maybe math makes you anxious, let them know! Maybe it’s the synchronous sessions, communicate that. Together, you can create baby steps to start accomplishing goals.
Modify your life
Don’t limit yourself, simply modify. If you were to take, say, your non-service dog out, you probably wouldn’t go to a fancy restaurant. That doesn’t mean you have to be confined. There are several places you can go with your furry friend: dog park, walks, even some food places.
Anxiety is similar. There will be things that feel like limitations, but you can find ways to modify your life to manage anxiety. If you’re unsure, you have guidance counselors who can help.
Don’t isolate yourself or stop engaging
There might be days where you can’t leave home. Don’t let it get to you. Isolating yourself can lead to depression. It’s going to be difficult, but try and find ways where you can engage with others.
Maybe all you can do is log in to synchronous sessions and type one message for the class to see. That’s OK; baby steps are key.
There are online student clubs available at Primavera as well. Try joining one of those, talk with students online and then work into meeting students in person.
Remember, you have an opportunity to start fresh. Start with Primavera.
Let it simply be a part of you that you manage daily
It’s truly OK to be anxious or to have anxiety. We all feel that from time to time. If you are someone who frequently experiences high levels of anxiety, don’t let it define you. Let it simply be a part of you that you manage daily.
We can help you overcome barriers
Primavera has several students who came in order to overcome obstacles. Don’t let them stop you from earning your high school diploma. Whether you have to work, have a medical illness, are a teen parent or you went through trials that forced you to drop out, we can help. Don’t just take it from us; see the stories of some of our students below.
A few Primavera students who overcame barriers
“I have severe social anxiety and it makes it really hard for me to be in crowds, full classrooms, and full hallways. It’s hard for me to focus in class when there is so much going on around me and I get severely nervous. I became interested in online school because I felt my home was the best place for me since I know my family and they know what I’m struggling with.” – Samantha Q., 12th grade
Jasmine is another student who struggles with anxiety and depression on a daily basis since age 14. Mr. Forrett, a teacher here at Primavera was able to help her through many things.
“When I started at Primavera, I didn’t know what to expect. After the first day I told my mom, ‘Mom, I actually like this!’” Jasmine later recalled. “In English in public school, usually we read the most boring, irrelevant things. It’s awful! But I like the classes at Primavera because you read things that aren’t super boring. They’re interesting. I like Primavera because it’s a way for me to get into what I’m learning about.”
Mr. Forrett, a veteran teacher who has taught hundreds of students during his decade with Primavera, says the difference, to him, is that he saw Jasmine as a person, not just a student. He was determined to stick with her and keep her engaged through interesting content and constructive feedback. “She was a good student, but one recurring error in a particular assignment caught my eye” Forrett recalled.
In one of her writing assignments, he noticed that she used lowercase “i”’s when referring to herself in the first person. Normally, he would attribute failing to capitalize an “i” when talking about oneself as lazy writing. But in this case, because he had gotten to know her and her circumstances, he realized it represented something deeper with her. It wasn’t just a grammatical error.
“Her “i” was lowercase not because she was lazy, but because she felt that way about herself that day,” Forrett explained. “The lowercase “i” just wouldn’t matter to her that day.”
Instead of simply letting it go and marking it incorrect, Mr. Forrett talked to her about it and helped her understand how small improvements in her writing could make big differences in her grades. With the right encouragement, he found ways to get through to her.
“I believe in you, Jasmine!” He told her. “You have proven yourself through the work you’ve been turning in in my class, and it proves that you are an intelligent young person! You are able to do the work that’s in these classes! You are more than capable!”
Read her full story here.
“At first, I was confused. I didn’t know what happened, if I had said something to get them mad at me. Just all of a sudden I didn’t have friends and I felt alone. I was bullied a lot, but I figured I just had to get used to that because that was high school life.
I think it was the traumatization I had that still followed me that made me not want to do my work in school. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I didn’t want to tell my parents because I knew that they would get all up on it and start treating me differently from what they usually do.
Before Primavera, I did not like high school at all. When I came here, it was a lot different. I was able to do fun stuff, talk with my teachers, make friends, do what I was supposed to be doing in high school.
If I hadn’t come to Primavera, I would have just been like I was, not understanding or caring about school, wanting to drop out and get a GED. Now I’m going to graduate, and thinking about going into the EMT field and maybe even getting a college degree. I connect with teachers here in a way that I never thought I would have in my old school. They really care about me and help me get through things so I can do better and graduate.” – Jose Pantaleon
Read the full story here.
“I was shocked (when I found out). I mean, I was happy, but I was shocked,” said Mariah. “We decided to go back to school before we found out we were pregnant, but after, we knew we wanted to get on our feet more. We were kind of disappointed in ourselves because we stopped school for awhile and we just wanted to feel better about ourselves.”
“I was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis two weeks before I turned 17 and it was unbearable to stay in a classroom anymore.”
I mainly chose it because it’s very interactive with the teachers and counselors and it gives you a lot of ways to be able to understand the course you are taking.
I would definitely recommend Primavera to any other student who has a sickness and can’t attend regular high school…I hope to go to Glendale community college and (plan on) going into something in the medical field.
Some of the benefits I find by being a student at Primavera are the flexibility offered and the organization of everything.”
“Primavera helps me succeed by giving me the time I need to finish my courses and provide options that help me really understand what it is that I am learning.”
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