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Charter Schools vs Traditional Public Schools: What’s the Difference

July 1, 2021

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As you read this article, you’ll learn about the differences between charter schools and traditional public schools:

  • Public schools have strict regulations that charter schools are free from
  • Charter schools accept students from different neighborhoods, while public school students are limited by district

If you’re enrolling a child in Crystal, MN, you have a few choices: private, public, or charter. Private schools can be costly and selective, which means traditional public and charter schools are more accessible. But which one will work best for your child? Let’s break down the differences to find out.

How Do They Work?

Since both charter and public schools receive government funding, they have several things in common:

  • They must meet state-set standards
  • They’re free
  • They accept all students

However, when you decide which education system is suitable for your child, the differences are what count.

Traditional Public Schools

The student body in public schools is primarily determined by location. Areas are divided into districts, and students usually attend the nearest school in their district. For example, if you live in Crystal, MN, your children will probably be in the Robbinsdale Public Schools District. 

Charter Schools

Charter schools, on the other hand, don’t have geographic limitations. So as long as you’re able to get your children to campus, they can attend. Charter schools also don’t have the same regulations as public schools, though they must meet state accountability standards to ensure they’re delivering quality education.

What are the Benefits?

The differences between public and charter schools mean they have varying benefits to offer. Which is more appealing depends on what you want for your children.

Traditional Public Schools

Students attending public schools can experience these benefits:

  • Teachers with tenure and over 20 years’ experience.
  • Assurance that the school won’t close suddenly
  • Built-in communities due to close connections between neighborhoods and schools

Charter Schools

Benefits of charter schools include the following:

  • Innovative teaching
  • High-quality education as the school competes for students
  • Freedom from restrictive state legislation

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a School?

Finally, let’s talk about factors outside academics. While high test scores are a good indicator of students’ college readiness, school as a whole offers experiences beyond grading. So as you review school options, you should look at diversity, class size, and specialization alongside graduation rates and test scores.


A diverse student body helps kids learn about people from different backgrounds and can decrease stereotyped thinking. In this respect, charter schools have the chance to one-up public schools, as their students can be from a wide variety of locations, whereas public schools have a makeup similar to the surrounding area.

Class Size

The smaller the class, the more time teachers can devote to individual students. Charter schools usually offer smaller class sizes since they’re able to cap enrollment. Public schools, on the other hand, continue to accept students even when they’re in overcapacity.


Is your child interested in science or art? Then charter schools may be the best fit.

Charter schools have more power over curriculum, which means they can offer specialized education. For example, if your kids want careers in engineering, they can attend a charter school that focuses on STEM.

If you’re looking for a charter school in Crystal, MN, Beacon Academy is one of the best in the area. We’re dedicated to helping children grow as young academics and compassionate people. To learn more about our campus and curriculum or start the enrollment process, give us a call at 763-546-9999 or contact us online.

Special Education at Beacon Academy

Homework Strategies for Kids with Learning Disabilities

June 22, 2021

Special Education at Beacon Academy

In this article, you’ll read about developing homework strategies for special needs student, including:

  • How organizing a homework area can help your child focus
  • How the right tools can help your child succeed

Homework provides additional learning time that teachers in Crystal, MN, use to help strengthen study habits and organizational skills. Buckling down and focusing on work when they could be playing makes it challenging for children, even when they don’t have a learning disability. Homework for special needs students can be frustrating for them and their parents. Understanding how your child’s disability affects learning can provide insight that allows you to use strategies that can help you both handle schoolwork at home.

Our Effective Homework Strategies

Use Effective Communication

Setting up clear lines of communication between you and your child’s teacher, such as touching base weekly, is a critical part of successful homework strategies. Sharing information, discussing expectations and concerns can help you work together for your child’s success. You can define homework goals better and help ensure the work completed at home reflects their classroom work. This can keep your child on track.

Create Structure to Help with Organization

At home, in an environment where they are comfortable, children have difficulty focusing on homework. They may need guidance and structure, similar to the classroom. Here are some organizational strategies to help with homework completion in Crystal, MN.

  • Limit distractions such as the television and phone
  • Create a space designated for homework, stocked with all of the supplies your child needs
  • Establish a daily routine and schedule that includes snack time and unwinding
  • Use a calendar or assignment book that you develop with the teacher to keep track of daily assignments
  • Set a schedule that allows enough time to finish the homework

Hang a homework completion chart where your child can see it and mark an “X” whenever an assignment is complete. This gives them visual confirmation of their progress.

Children are often anxious to finish assignments and move on to something more fun and may require your supervision. Make sure the homework is in their backpack or where they will be sure to pick it up the following day. It’s common for children with learning disabilities to fail to turn in assignments and frustrating for everyone when they work hard on the homework and then do not get credit. Arranging with the teacher to collect the assignments due immediately upon arrival at school can help ensure your child gets credit for their work.

Utilize Technology to Help

Sometimes, keeping it simple with low-tech tools, such as rulers and colored paper works best. Using a sheet of paper to hide the problems or words that your child is not working on can help them focus on one item at a time. For children with motor skills challenges, using raised line paper can help them understand where the words are supposed to go. Weighted pencils can help them press harder for the desired results.

However, there is some surprisingly affordable technology available that can help your child learn in their own way. Software programs can help break down the number and word concepts, making them easier for your child to understand.

Be there for Guidance

Some students benefit from help getting started on their homework, while others need more guidance to keep them focused. Although it’s helpful to point out errors, try guiding rather than correcting them. Offer ways to help them sort out the problem but don’t give the answers.

Read the directions and complete the first few items together. Observe your child working through the next few problems and then leave the room, letting them finish the assignment independently.

Homework for special needs students in Crystal, MN, can become frustrating very quickly for everyone. Patience is the key to staying calm and ensuring your child has a study environment filled with love and support. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your student succeed in school.

Stress Management Tips for Kids & Teens | Beacon Academy

Stress Management for Kids & Teens

January 14, 2021

Stress Management for Kids and Teens

At Beacon Academy, we want to equip our students for success, both academically and personally. We value each student not only in terms of their education but also as a whole person. We know you want only the best for your child, and we endeavor to partner with you to empower your child to be the best they can be. While this is a sincere desire on the part of both parents and educators, some children experience the weight of these things and other factors as pressure and stress. Thus, it is important to identify high-stress levels in children and to leverage effective stress management strategies to help them not only cope, but also flourish.

Children today are experiencing higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than in years past, requiring effective coping strategies for youth and their parents and support systems. The American Psychological Association (APA) surveys for different mental health challenges across America, and they confirm that teens have reported higher levels of stress than adults for nearly a decade. In fact, teens ranked higher than any other group for mental health issues, anxiety, and depression in the APA’s 2018 survey.

Why Are Kids So Stressed?

According to, an online mental health resource, 83 percent of youth reported that their most significant source of stress was school. At Beacon Academy, we strive to work with the whole child as we educate and support both academic studies as well as character development. We believe our social curriculum is as important as our educational curriculum, and we will partner with you, the parent, to provide an environment that supports your child in both areas and to emphasize stress management for students. But school isn’t the only stress trigger for children. In addition to the demands and pressure of school, children also experience stress from:

  • Physical development and maturity
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • Challenges with peers and friends
  • Having unreasonably high expectations
  • Family finances
  • Lack of emotional safety in the home
  • Uncertainty with moving or changing schools
  • Community violence
  • Having a parent or care provider who is overly stressed

How Do Kids Demonstrate High Levels of Stress?

Just as different factors can trigger increased stress in children, the way stress manifests in children can also vary. There are four main areas in which stress can manifest. Be mindful of:

  • Behavior: Is your child eating more or less than normal? Are they sleeping more or less than normal? Have they lost interest in things that were important?
  • Physical: Stress is often demonstrated physically in school-age children with repeated illnesses, stomach aches, headaches, and other pains that don’t seem to have a direct cause.
  • Emotional: Does your child seem uncharacteristically angry, sad, or overwhelmed? Do they disconnect or shut down?
  • Cognitive: Do you notice a change in your child’s ability to focus, concentrate, or register information? Are they more forgetful?

10 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Stress

Fortunately, there are many things students and parents can do to help minimize and deal effectively with stress. Many items are just good self-care, which benefits everyone. Use these ideas to help your child discover how to deal with stress at school.

#1 Sleep

Many kids report sleeping less than what is necessary for a developing child to adequately refresh their minds and bodies throughout the night. Whether due to homework, electronics, or other factors, kids seem to be getting less sleep. Help your child to establish a bedtime routine/ritual and to get an age-appropriate amount of sleep every night—even on the weekends.

#2 Rest and Relaxation

Consider building in time for rest and relaxation. Perhaps engage in this with your child. This would not include watching a television show or online content. Think of this as a nap, quiet time with music, working on a puzzle, taking a walk, or doing some mindfulness activity like coloring or visualization.

#3 Coping Skills

Coping skills can help children alleviate their stress, regulate their emotions, and create a sense of agency and control. The trick is in exploring and identifying what works best for each unique child. Stress management strategies can include breathing, taking time out, using aromatherapy, spending time with an animal, or doing something to release the energy that builds in the body due to stress. If your child deals with anger, it can include de-escalation and communication exercises.

#4 Time Management

Children still have developing brains and are not able to fully comprehend complex topics and impulse control. Helping them to determine what priorities are and where time should be spent can be helpful. If your child likes to participate in myriad activities that eat up much of their time, you may find it helpful to review if all activities are necessary and choose what is most important. Big tasks can be broken down into smaller ones to make things seem more manageable. Work together to find a system that works.

#5 Reflective Loop

Use Beacon Academy’s Reflective Loop process to practice working through things that bring your student stress. The reflect loop includes the PWR process. Plan what they will do and how. Work out the plan (implementation). Reflect on what went well and what they will change next time. This is an excellent tool for integrating stress, learning from situations, and coping well.

#6 Emotional Safety and Regulation

Children flourish in safe environments. Identity is formed during adolescence, and physical and emotional safety in the home are vital components of identity formation. Allow your child to identify what they feel and to express their feelings. Help them to combat negative self-talk with positive affirmations and develop realistic expectations of themselves and others by reducing perfectionism and allowing for best effort.

#7 Exercise

The CDC recommends 60 minutes of physical activity each day for those ages six to 17. Help your child appreciate the importance of physical activity and engage in something they enjoy, whether it is athletics, exercise, or even running around the yard with friends.

#8 Eating Healthy

Processed food high in sugar and fat only increases stress levels. Why? Sugar and caffeine can increase the stress hormone cortisol, and caffeine has been linked to anxiety. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water, eats a well-balanced diet, and includes plenty of fruits and healthy vegetables in their rotation.

#9 Digital Detox

Limit your children’s access to electronic devices each day and monitor what they do. Consider doing a family digital detox for a day or for a short time every evening so that you can connect with one another.

#10 Finding the Good

A little gratitude can go a long way. Even in the worst situations, there can be good to be found. Encourage your child to find the good in all situations and even consider having them start a gratitude journal to help shift their thoughts on positive things.

It Takes A Village

Beacon Academy supports you and your child educationally and emotionally/socially. Our goal is to provide a positive, healthy environment where children can feel safe to learn, grow, and flourish. We believe every child has a right to do so without undue stress. If you do, too, and you want to learn more, please contact us today to find out more and whether Beacon Academy may be the right fit for your child.