School Communications

Gifted vs. Honors Program: What Is the Difference?

October 19, 2021

Beacon Academy teaching their students in Crystal, MN

Beacon Academy is proud to offer the children of Crystal, MN, the best charter school education. Our charter school curriculum includes providing middle school honors programs for students who excel in academics. However, programs similar to ours are called gifted or honors programs, and they’re offered at different levels of schooling.

But, these two programs aren’t the same. So, when you compare gifted vs. honors, what are the differences? Let’s explore what each program offers.

What Is a Gifted Program?

The first difference we see when comparing gifted vs. honors programs is student age. Gifted programs are usually designed for elementary school children. While they may include elements of English, math, and other subjects, the focus is more on developing critical-thinking skills and innate talents. The goal is less to challenge students academically than it is to help them explore their strengths.

Gifted Criteria

Some children excel in a particular area or show an innate understanding of certain subjects. This quality is called “giftedness” and comes in many forms:

  • Intellectual ability
  • Creative ability
  • Emotional and interpersonal ability

To identify whether students are gifted, they can take a test that measures their adaptability, critical thinking, and other skills. If they score high enough, they can enroll in a gifted program.

What Is an Honors Program?

Honors programs usually start in middle school and continue into high school. They’re a continuation of the gifted program, but the focus shifts from skill exploration to academic progress. Honors classes are separate from regular classes and replace several subjects:

  • Science
  • Math
  • English

We should note that honors classes are different from AP or Advanced Placement classes. Honors classes are only available to students within the gifted program, while AP classes are available to everyone. Honors classes don’t necessarily offer college credit, while students in AP classes can take the relevant AP test and earn college credit depending on their scores.

Weighted Grades

Honors classes are weighted differently than regular courses, giving students an advantage in college admission. The highest achievable grade point in a regular class is 4.0, but honors classes may offer half to a full point higher, allowing students to earn a higher GPA.

Fast Pace

One of the biggest differences between gifted vs. honors is the focus on academics. Honors students are expected to handle a larger homework load, read longer and more complex texts, and complete subject units faster.

Honors Program at Beacon Academy

Students in Crystal, MN, have the opportunity to enroll in these programs, but the prerequisites vary between gifted vs. honors. Students need to be recommended by teachers, counselors, or other staff familiar with gifted criteria to enter the gifted program. To enter the honors program, students must either already be in the gifted program or show they can handle an accelerated education through excellent grades and high test scores.

Beacon Academy offers a well-rounded, quality education for students in Crystal, MN, and the surrounding area. If you’re interested in enrolling your child or want to learn more about our campus, give us a call at 763-546-9999 or contact us online.


Featured Image: Dmitry Pistrov/Shutterstock

Beacon Academy’s Safe Return to School Plan

September 24, 2021

Beacon Academy talking about a back to school plan in Crystal, MN

As you read this article about Beacon Academy’s Safe Return to School Plan, you’ll learn about the steps the school is taking to safeguard students’ health and education:

  • Returning to an in-person model
  • Implementing rigorous hygiene practices

Beacon Academy is proud to provide education to the children of Crystal, MN. In these unprecedented times, we’re also dedicated to safeguarding our students’ health. Children under 16 are among the largest unvaccinated groups in the U.S., which means they’re at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to protect our students from this disease. As we near the 2021-2022 school year, the Beacon Academy School Board has developed a Return to School Plan that balances students’ need for a nurturing learning environment with the public’s health needs.

Return to School Plan

The Return to School Plan is a comprehensive outline of Beacon Academy’s approach to the 2021-2022 school year. We’ve created guidelines for both students and staff, taking into account the most current information from the CDC and other health experts.

100% In-Person Model

Beginning on September 7, 2021, Beacon Academy will return to the 100% in-person model. All students will attend classes in person with no virtual options offered. In-person learning provides students with more hands-on learning and individual attention, making it more effective.

COVID-19 Precautions

Beacon Academy follows all requirements issued by the Crystal, MN, authorities as well as state and federal orders. As of August, social distancing will no longer be required among students, allowing them to interact freely. However, we understand that the spread of COVID-19 is still an issue, which is why our Return to School Plan has several precautions in place.

Health Screenings

One of the most important things we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home when we feel sick. To help parents determine whether or not their child is well enough to go to school, we’ve created a series of three questions:

  • Has anyone you’ve been in close contact with tested positive for COVID-19? Contact is considered “close” if you’ve spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of someone.
  • Are you or your child waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test?
  • Is your child experiencing COVID-19 symptoms? These symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, severe headache, fatigue, muscle pain, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, cough, shortness of breath, and a fever exceeding 100.4 degrees.

Hygiene Practices

Hand-washing will be required at scheduled times. Students will be instructed on effective handwashing and provided with antiviral soap. Additionally, staff will sanitize surfaces to minimal viral spread.

Face Coverings

Masks and other face coverings can limit the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose will be required all summer and during the 2021-2022 school year, and they are required for buses and other forms of transportation. Both staff and students have the option of wearing any of the following as face coverings:

  • Face shield
  • Religious head covering
  • Bandana
  • Scarf
  • Disposable mask

Other Precautions

We won’t require spot quarantining for the 2021-2022 school year, but any student or staff who feels ill at school will be sent home. We will be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms.

We’re happy to welcome back our students and the larger Crystal, MN, community. The past year has been difficult for everyone, and the chance to offer a safe, positive learning environment has us excited for the 2021-2022 school year. To learn more about or questions on our COVID-19 return plan, give us a call at 763-546-9999 or contact us online.


Featured Image: SewCream/Shutterstock

Library at Beacon Academy in Crystal, Mn

How to Get Your Child Organized for School

August 17, 2021

Beacon Academy describes how to get your child organized for school


As you read this article, you’ll learn tips to help your child get organized:

  • Set a time for kids to start homework
  • Show kids how to arrange homework papers in a folder

Young children aren’t known for their organization, yet it’s an important skill

for school, even in the early days. As a parent, it’s your job to impart this knowledge, but that’s easier said than done. How can you teach small children how to plan and prioritize? Fortunately, we have a few organization tips for school that may help.

Teaching Children Valuable Skills

Before we talk about how to get your child organized, let’s discuss why it’s crucial to start while kids are young. After all, it’s much easier to get backpacks ready and gather homework papers yourself, especially if your children have short attention spans. However, developing organizational skills builds a foundation that will stand students in good stead throughout their academic careers.

It takes extra work and time but giving kids the right organizational tools helps them develop independence. If you teach them critical thinking and decision-making, they’ll be able to tackle homework without your assistance when they’re older. Even if they leave for college, you’ll know they’re prepared for success.

Getting Your Child Organized

Getting your child organized for school may be overwhelming, but you can simplify by breaking the task into different goals. Additionally, creating separate goals can help you identify where your children struggle, allowing you to focus on that particular issue. The best Minnesota schools teach and reinforce these skills, so you’ll have support instilling these organizational habits.

Building Time Management Skills

Time management is a skill even adults struggle with, but it’s essential to reduce stress and ensure deadlines are met. One of the best ways to introduce this concept is with homework time.

When your kids come home from school, give them some time to decompress, but let them know that they must start homework at 4 p.m. (or whatever time works best). Having a specific time to work on school assignments helps kids develop self-discipline and ensures they don’t procrastinate.

Keeping Their Work Organized

Another key organizational skill is keeping track of school assignments and their deadlines. To-do lists are a great way to do this, and a designated assignment notebook or folder will help kids keep their papers in one place.

You may also consider setting up a desk or study area specifically for homework time. You can keep school supplies here in neat, labeled cubbies or drawers. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids how to organize their supplies and show them how much easier it is when everything is in its proper place.

Planning Ahead

Finally, you should teach your children how to plan ahead. Creating a plan of action instead of diving headlong into projects can save time and effort, and the sooner kids learn this skill, the sooner they can benefit.

One of the most useful tools in planning is prioritizing. You can teach your children this skill by going over their school assignments, helping them identify which are due first or will take the most time, and arranging them in order of importance.

Enroll Your Child at Beacon Academy

Are you looking for a school that supports students in every area of development, not just academics? If so, Beacon Academy may be the perfect place. We offer a robust education to the children of Minnesota, and we work closely with parents to provide for kids’ individual needs. To find out more or start the enrollment process, give us a call at 763-546-9999 or contact us online.