Nov 23rd
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Eco News Alternative Schooling Alternative Schooling
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Eco News

Boy-playing-soccer_283pxChoosing an alternative school is often difficult, particularly for parents of at-risk children and adolescents. Parents who feel that their local school district is not adequately addressing the educational needs of their child should consider an alternative school.


Reasons for choosing an alternative school vary, depending on the child, who may:

be unusually gifted or motivated

have a special talent or interest, such as music or science, that cannot be further developed in the present school

be an underachiever or failing and require more individualized attention

have special needs due to a learning disability or medical condition

be exhibiting behaviors

have engaged in petty criminal behaviors and is becoming more self-destructive

have been diagnosed with emotional and/or psychological problems that require a more structured therapeutic environment

An educational consultant can help parents choose an alternative school. Educational consultants usually have visited any school they recommend and will consider the student's psychological evaluations and other test results to determine the alternative school that will best meet their needs. An attorney specializing in educational issues can help parents obtain financial support for alternative therapeutic programs from the public school.

At-risk children and adolescents involved in an emotional growth school require significant involvement and support from family members, since many psychological and behavioral issues are rooted in family dynamics and history (e.g., divorce) Hence, parents may need to take family medical leave from their work or make significant changes in their family lifestyle to support therapy for their child.

Joining a parent support group can help, and most emotional growth schools have parent networks. Alternative schools for at-risk children and adolescents may seem too structured and too rigorous with regard to emotional therapy for some parents. However, outcomes research for these types of schools has shown a high success rate; more than 85 percent of students completing such programs have improved family and peer relationships, attend a college or find a job, and remain free from substance use.

Advisory Service on Private Schools and Camps. Web site

Independent Educational Consultants Association. Web site

Magnet Schools of America. 733 15th Street NW, Suite 330, Washington, DC 20005. Web site

National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. 126 North Marina, Prescott, AZ 86301. Web site

National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camps. 698 Dinner Bell—Ohiopyle Road, Ohiopyle PA 15470. Web site

Web Sites

"Being an Advocate for Your School-Aged Child." National Center for Learning Disabilities

Available online

(accessed October 24, 2004).

Emotional Growth Boarding Schools: National Youth Network.

Available online (accessed October 24, 2004).

Emotional Growth Outdoor Programs: National Youth Network.

Available online (accessed October 24, 2004).

Grunbaum, J. A., et al. "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—2003." MMWR Surveillance Summary 53 (May 21, 2004): 1–96.

Available online 


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