Anxiety and Distance Education
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Anxiety can cause considerable distress and disrupt a child’s ability to study, form friendships and participate in everyday activities. As a parent, it can be very upsetting to watch your child try to cope with anxiety. In some cases, it's particularly challenging to manage school attendance. Many children who experience anxiety have a heightened sense of distress, or even dread, when it comes to school day mornings.
Distance education can offer several great benefits for students who are living with anxiety. Not only does the flexibility inherent in distance education allow them to study from the comfort and familiarity of their own home, it also offers a way for them to work on their studies at their own pace, without feeling overwhelmed.
With its wide range of online resources and support, distance education can provide a safe and encouraging environment for those who have anxiety, while helping ensure they are developing their academic skills.
Here, we explore some of the many benefits of distance education for students with anxiety, and hopefully provide some comfort and support to those living with this mental health condition.
Six benefits of distance education for students with anxiety
Distance education can be an ideal option for students who experience anxiety (or other mental health conditions), as it offers them a wide range of benefits that can help them to better manage their condition.
Distance education enables a student to study from the comfort of their own home and work at their own pace without feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated.
2. Reduced stress levels
As students don't have to attend a physical school environment or participate in social activities that may trigger anxiety, they can instead focus on their studies with less stress and more control over their environment.
3. Increased self-esteem
Distance education allows students to take their time and progress through coursework at their own pace, enabling them to get through their workload and complete set tasks. This can help students develop a stronger sense of accomplishment and pride in their academic achievements.
4. Improved social health
Distance education offers abundant resources and tools for students to explore topics, learn new skills, and connect with people who share their interests – in a controlled manner. This means students with anxiety can stay connected with the outside world from a safe and comfortable environment.
5. High quality education
With access to advanced education technology available through distance learning programs, students have access to high-quality educational materials.
6. Access to expert help
In distance education, students can also take advantage of one-on-one teacher support from educators who understand their needs. This can help build a stronger academic foundation and improve long-term educational outcomes.
Distance education can be an effective and beneficial option for students with anxiety. Not only does it provide a safe, comfortable and empowering environment to learn, but it also offers the flexibility and personalised guidance needed to help these individuals succeed academically.
So, what exactly is distance education?
Distance education is the practice of delivering school to students who are unable, or unwilling, to attend traditional school due to physical, mental, or logistical reasons.
Distance education can take a variety of forms including online classes, correspondence courses and video conferencing. In Australia, distance education can only be provided by schools that are registered to do so.
Distance education is a recognised form of schooling in Australia that enables students to learn at home, with the support and guidance of a parent or designated responsible adult. The school provides a learning program and qualified teachers, and families do not need to be visited by inspectors from government authorities – as our school holds the registration. This type of learning offers an alternative to traditional home schooling.
What schools are registered for distance education in Australia?
There are many providers, both government and non-government, that deliver distance education to students who live in remote areas or have challenging circumstances. This support is intended to create equitable access to quality education and help improve the educational attainment of those located in geographically isolated regions. Additionally, distance education enables these students to pursue subjects which are not available at their schools.
Let's take a look at the options in each state.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, distance education is available through various public distance education centres and schools across the state, but eligibility criteria apply. Moreover, the NSW Government has also set up additional programs to ensure access and equity for students across the state, including a country areas program, rural allowances and scholarships. More information is available on the official NSW Public Schools website. One non-government school is registered to offer Distance Education in NSW — Australian Christian College – Marsden Park.
In Queensland, Education Queensland provides distance education for students from Prep to 12 across the state via the following seven distance education schools:
- Brisbane School of Distance Education
- Cairns School of Distance Education
- Capricornia School of Distance Education
- Charleville School of Distance Education
- Charters Towers School of Distance Education
- Longreach School of Distance Education
- Mount Isa School of the Air
Six non-government schools in Queensland are also registered to deliver distance education:
- Australian Christian College – Moreton
- Charlotte Mason College
- Faith Christian School
- Groves Christian College
- Jubilee Christian College
- Riverside Christian College
As you can see, Queensland has more distance education options than any other state in Australia.
In Victoria, students in remote areas or those who cannot attend regular school due to illness, travel or other difficulties can study through Virtual School Victoria (VSV), a state school offering a Prep to Year 12 program. VSV also enrol students into single subjects not offered at their school.
Haileybury Pangea is Victoria’s only non-government distance education school, offering Years 5 to 12 in 2023.
In Western Australia, the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) offers educational opportunities for students who cannot attend regular schooling due to geographical remoteness, frequent travel, elite performance commitments, long-term illness or other special circumstances. Additionally, SIDE provides access to courses not available at the student's local school or if conflicting timetables prevent students from studying a subject. The two non-government institutions in Western Australia offering distance education are Australian Christian College - Southlands and Swan Online (for Years 7–12 only).
Students in South Australia who cannot attend their local school or access certain courses may be able to pursue 'external education' (another name for distance education). This includes options such as telephone and video conferencing, online lessons, course booklets, face-to-face workshops and camps, and visits from teachers.
External education is suitable for South Australian residents who:
- are travelling for one or more school terms
- are living far from the nearest school
- have other commitments (such as being a carer or young mother)
- wish to take courses not available at their school
- are 16 years of age or older and no longer attending school, or have homeschooled up to Year 10 level and need assistance in preparing for the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).
For more information, visit the Government of South Australia's website.
Tasmanian eSchool was established in 2010, replacing Distance Education Tasmania and the Open Learning Network. This institution adopts the blended learning approach, which comprises a full online K–10 program with campuses in Rocherlea and Derwent Park. Australian Christian College – Launceston is the only non-government school registered to deliver distance education in Tasmania.
Australian Capital Territory
Distance education is offered to students in the Australian Capital Territory who are unable to attend school due to special circumstances or isolation through Queanbeyan Primary School DEC.
In conclusion, distance education is an increasingly popular schooling option for students in Australia who have anxiety. Each state and territory in Australia offers different distance education options, including government-run schools and non-government schools.
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Jeremy Kwok grew up in Sydney before moving to the United States for tertiary studies. Jeremy completed the BA, MA (History), and MDiv degrees before returning to Australia with his wife Debbie to have two children. He works for the Australian Christian College Group developing online curriculum and is an Apple Distinguished Educator.
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