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Online education promotes excellence rather than pigeonhole struggling learners

by Jessica Parnell | Nov 03, 2014 | 3 min read

Every child has their own unique learning style, and children with learning disabilities are no different. Often, students with learning struggles or disabilities can function within a traditional classroom setting, but at a very high cost. Mainstreaming often puts the burden on teachers to cater to too many different learning styles, academic needs, and ability levels and students who have learning delays can fall further and further behind. Public schools often aren’t set up to teach to each child’s learning style and meet the growing demands of a large class.

As a result, students with learning disabilities are often overlooked in public education or not given the appropriate level of attention to succeed. And then when they inevitably fail, the school lowers their requirements for graduation — ensuring the school’s graduation rate won’t be affected, while pigeonholing the future of a student with learning disabilities. It’s a vicious cycle that parents of learning disabled students struggle with to this day.

In fact you might recall the story of one of our students, Seth Manning, who was having a very stressful time in public school and receiving very little help from his teachers. Seth and his mother Cindi had always provided his teachers with some requirements or guidelines to help with Seth. But they found the older Seth got, the less inclined the teachers were to adapt. It got so bad during Seth’s sophomore year, he no longer believed he was college material.

That was the last straw for Cindi. While she was a little unsure of Seth’s path to college, she was fed up with the school’s dismissive attitude towards his education and began researching online homeschool alternatives. But even then her path wasn’t clear. As a full-time working mom, Cindi couldn’t afford to spend her whole day as the teacher and administrator, but she still wanted to see how Seth’s education was progressing.

After doing some research on online public and charter schools, Cindi decided it was best for Seth to attend an online homeschool academy like Bridgeway that offered advisor support, a flexible curriculum, and proper accreditation for his college prospects.

While positive results did take time, it became apparent very quickly that this change was working for Seth. Even though he signed up for an aggressive curriculum to make up for his sophomore year, he was doing better in the classes he needed to retake. His self-esteem skyrocketed because for the first time in two years he knew he could do well and succeed. And not soon after that, Seth’s dreams of college returned. The world of learning had been re-opened to him and he was ready and excited to explore it.

For Cindi, the relief was even more palpable. She was in constant contact with Seth’s advisor who showed her exactly how Seth was progressing in his classes, and where he might need to spend more time focusing. His advisor constantly pushes Seth to excel, and makes him feel like he can tackle any challenge that was set before him. That’s what really helped Seth succeed and put him back on the path to college, rather than a ‘Thanks for attending’ diploma.

Online education has opened up a new avenue for students with learning disabilities to succeed outside the constraints of the public school classroom. While ‘mainstreaming’ in education started with lofty goals, it placed too much pressure on the teacher to adapt to each child’s unique learning style. As a result, many students with learning disabilities like Seth were labeled as ‘struggling learners’ that don’t deserve the same amount of attention as those bound for college.

However, using an online homeschool provider like Bridgeway Academy ensures that students with learning struggles can still receive a quality education tailored to their individual learning style. In fact, many students who struggle in a public or private school find themselves overcoming learning struggles through the individual approach that homeschooling provides. For Seth, this means less stress, higher self-esteem, a brighter future, and even enough free time to pick up a part-time job! For Seth’s mother Cindi, she can finally rest easy knowing that Seth has the proper support and encouragement he needs to excel and start a bright future for himself.

If you’re interested in finding out how an alternative online education could help your struggling student, feel free to contact us at (800) 863-1474 or [email protected].


Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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