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How to Keep Teens from Dropping-Out of High School

Teen: “School sucks. I’m not going anymore!”
Mother: “What!?” 
Teen: “I hate school …I quit!!”
Mother: “You can’t just quit, Michael!!” 
Teen: “Why not? People quit and get a GED all the time!!!”
Mother: “You have to finish high school. You don’t want to work at McDonald’s the rest of your life.”
Teen: “Whatever… I'm quitting, and you can't stop me.”

Whether your adolescent is being bullied at school or is struggling with classes, dropping-out of school should never be an option. Statistically speaking, high school drop-outs earn approximately $260,000 less than those who have their diploma and cost the U.S. over $319 billion in lost wages over the course of the drop-out’s lifetime. High school drop-outs often struggle to find happiness because, in most cases, career choices are relegated to low-income jobs with no advancement. The best way to keep an adolescent in school is through support, motivation and letting him/her see firsthand what would happen if he/she decided to quit.

Here are some important tips to keep your teenager in school until graduation:

1. Are serious problems occurring in the home (e.g., abuse, financial distress, grief, illness, etc.)? If so, these issues will need to be addressed first.

2. Ask each teacher to provide a customized solution as to how he/she can help your teenager in the classroom.

3. Be present in your adolescent’s life. Supporting and celebrating victories is important to keeping a teen in school. The at-risk adolescent needs a cheerleader to promote and raise him/her up when he/she does well. Also, you need to be able to help pick your adolescent up and find solutions when failure occurs in order to teach resiliency and tenacity. A consistent, loving role model who lets the adolescent know that he/she isn’t in this alone will help the student find the courage to continue with his/her education.

4. Bright and gifted adolescents sometimes advance beyond the level of their classes in some or all areas. Depending on talents and personality, they may also learn better in less structured environments. Sometimes the best solution for this is to find a college with an early entrance program and let the adolescent complete high school concurrent with freshman year. Switching to college is not dropping out!

5. Bullying is a serious epidemic that can destroy an adolescent’s life. Bullying is not limited to physical assault on or off school grounds, but can also be through gossip and slander in social media channels. Investigate to make sure your teenager is not being bullied (in silence).

6. Consider your adolescent's support structure. Is there a stable grown-up who supports your adolescent? Does your adolescent come from a family that values education - or has a mom or dad somehow diminished the value of having a high school diploma? Sometimes there is a cultural issue where there is a fear that an adolescent that is educated beyond the abilities of other family members will stop identifying with their cultural roots. This type of pressure can be very intense. In the United States, your adolescent is under the age of 18, the mom and dad must sign the teen out of school and agree to allow him/her to drop-out. Your adolescent’s support system has a considerable influence on whether he/she finally drops out or not.

7. Consult with a professional. Before you can create a strategic plan, you have to dig deeper into why your adolescent wants to drop-out. Meet with the guidance counselor at the school to pinpoint the reason and then investigate what has been done to remedy the situation. For example, if your adolescent has been struggling with academics, determine if he/she has been tested for a learning disability or ADHD. Explore tutoring options. Often a student who struggles in class responds very well to one-on-one learning. If the guidance counselor provides little or no assistance, consult with a child psychologist to have your adolescent evaluated.

8. Design a collaborative mission, including short and long term goals to engage your teen and help him/her progress.

9. Find good sources of relaxation for your adolescent. While it's important for him/her to do well in school, it's also important for you to provide a little relaxation time for your adolescent so he/she doesn't get overwhelmed.

10. Identify why your adolescent wants to drop-out of school. For an adolescent to want to drop-out of school, the reason(s) have to be pretty serious. If you can first get to the root of the problem, you can start to cultivate a solution that may work to help keep him/her in school.

11. If teenagers need to drop-out because of a severe unsolvable issue like bullying, teenage pregnancy, or a serious medical condition, they should be encouraged to get a GED. Adolescents can still go to college and get a career with a GED certificate if regular high school will not work. Education and a teen’s well-being should come first rather than where they studied.

12. If your adolescent is extremely unhappy, consider transferring him/her to a new school or providing alternate schooling options. As a mother or father, you can effectively counter your adolescent dropping out by providing alternative schooling, community collaboration, or career education.

13. Invite your child to take part in the strategic plan and provide feedback about what might be helpful to him/her in the classroom.

14. Is the adolescent constantly in trouble with school officials and/or law enforcement? Students who are often in trouble may be hiding a deeper reason why they are acting-out.

15. Is your adolescent constantly struggling to keep up with the rest of the class and often receives poor or failing grades? Has any type of intervention been performed, or has the student fallen through the cracks? Parents may need to get their child on an IEP if there have been no previous interventions.

16. Making educators aware that your adolescent is at risk will provide them with information to offer more support in the classroom.

17. Meet with administrators to develop a strategic plan. Once you’ve determined the reason and have researched previous efforts (if any) to help, meet with the adolescent’s team of educators to obtain feedback and create a plan. Don't put the blame on the school or the educators. Keep it positive. Everyone needs to feel like they are on the same side.

18. Set up a schedule to meet with educators and your teen on a regular basis (weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the progress).

19. Several common reasons an adolescent could drop-out range from school insecurity, not keeping tabs on school work, family turmoil or drug problems. So, research, research, research! Find out what’s going on behind the curtain.

20. Unfortunately, many adolescent girls drop-out of school in order to care for their newborn or young child. In this case, parents should do some research on what services are available in the community for the teen mothers.

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mark Hutten's website has saved my family from devastation.Listening to his advise together with my husband was better than any other help we have found. Everything is not solved, but we feel that we have a solid bunker on the battlefield.

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