By Guest Blogger Sarah Sumrall
Students face the potential of anxiety and stress brought about by attending school. While
many factors contribute to a student’s mental health profile, the online school model
offered by Texas Online Preparatory School provides reasons parents should consider
virtual learning for their children.
Juggling school, extracurricular activities, sports, and events complicates even the best-
organized family schedule. A more flexible school day offers the ability to achieve greater
balance among all these elements — which in turn reduces anxiety—a key benefit of online
School safety has always been a concern for parents and students. Attending school from
home now provides a safe learning environment completely in the family’s control.
Familiar surroundings and situations contribute to a more comfortable and focused
During the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers in England suspected young teens schooled
remotely might be experiencing more anxiety. They conducted a study of over 1,000
students between the ages of 13 and 14 (many of them at high risk for developing anxiety disorders). Initially, they worried the added isolation may be causing added stress. The
results were the opposite. In the girls monitored, 10% of them dropped in anxiety and
stress levels during the time they were studied. And even more significantly, 18-26% of
boys from the same age group also experienced a decrease in anxiety and stress.
Self-paced instruction removes the pressure of competing with peers and allows students
to focus on the particular subjects they struggle with. Moving at their own speed puts
students in control and allows them to better meet expectations.
A study of 5,000 adolescents in Japan, believed to be one of the first to look at the
relationship between online classes and mental health after schools reopened post-
pandemic, also found a positive link. This study found that online classes associated with lower rates of mental health symptoms and negative emotional symptoms. The study’s authors suggested that the relationship between online classes and mental health may be at least partly explained by the creation of a daily routine and the element of social interaction involved.
Negative Social Issues Diminished
Peer Pressure – with the need to “be like the other kids” not being reinforced over and
over, virtual students have greater freedom to be themselves, perform at their own level,
and explore personal interests and opportunities.
Bullying – the virtual student is separated from the scenario of being physically bullied.
They are able to become part of a new community that gives them a fresh start without any history. Coupled with the other benefits of virtual education, the positive impact on the students’ mental health provides a compelling argument for parents to consider online school.
Sarah Sumrall is the Student Support Manager for Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS). Serving grades 3-12, TOPS provides a safe environment with a future-ready approach built around each individual student’s goals. For more information, visit tops.k12.com.