School Alternatives: 5 Ways to Educate Outside the Traditional Classroom

For many teens and their families school in the traditional sense just doesn’t work. Researchers have acknowledged that issues such as the usual 8 a.m. start time and homework do little to further the end goal of a well-rounded education and can often do more harm than good. Many teens struggle in school and in a variety of different ways.

Some teens feel they have the dumb themselves down because the educational materials are beneath them. Other kids find themselves acting out in ways that disrupt the classroom and land them in trouble with school administrators. Also, some parents just want more for their kids than a traditional school can provide.

So what does a parent do when they feel their teen needs a different educational option? Luckily, those options do exist but they may require a little more work on the part of the parent. However, when you want your child educated in a manner that you feel best suits their needs, you’re sure to be able to put in the time and research to ensure he or she has the best options available.

Study Abroad Programs

If there’s one thing that will jolt a complacent teen out of their comfort zone it’s a study abroad program. The mere fact that your teen’s world will completely change is often enough to encourage them to focus more and take more interest in school. When they’re surrounded by different people and a different culture, great things can happen.

Study abroad programs exist around the world at both the high school and college levels. You can choose to send your teen to an English-speaking country or one where they’ll be required to learn a brand new language. Either way, this type of change in education almost always makes a huge difference.

Boarding Schools

Sending a teen to boarding school used to be something reserved for the upper class, but more and more families are considering boarding schools as a viable option for their teens. Some parents may choose a military school in Utah so their teen can learn in a more disciplined environment and some might choose one that focuses on their teen’s favorite sport.

The point is that boarding schools are rigorous and run under a strict set of rules. This means your teen, whether they have behavioral issues or not, is going to have to live by those rules and their education is going to much better because of it.

Online Study

For some teens the actual classroom is a nightmare. Perhaps they’re being bullied at school or perhaps they’re simply bored. Teachers usually prepare their curriculums for the median of learning ability in the classroom and if your teen is especially gifted this can be excruciating. They already know the material so they become distracted and bored.

Online study programs can work well in these situations as your teen can work at their own pace and quickly breeze through the materials they already know. This can also lead to early graduation so they can move on to higher education.


While unschooling might be foreign to many parents it’s actually a revolutionary new movement that expands on a child’s ability to learn naturally and focus on what really interests them. It’s not as if you’re leaving your child to their own devices; parents need to be active participants in unschooling but the role of the parent is more that of a guide rather than a teacher.

And as a parent, if you’re worried that a lack of proof of lower school education might prevent or hinder college admissions, you can rest assured. Many colleges and universities welcome those applicants that have never attended a traditional school as these students tend to be highly self-motivated, confident in their abilities, and often score better on admissions tests than their peers.

If you’re looking for a different way to educate your child, you’re not alone. Many families in the United States are frustrated with the public school system and can literally see how their child is either struggling or is completely beyond the curriculum. These are just a few ways you can help your teen become a better student, an active learner, and ultimately lead them to a more successful and happy adulthood.

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