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How To Keep Your Teen From "Dropping Out" Of School

Dropping out of school has become a serious problem for many teenagers today. Your son or daughter may think of dropping out for various reasons. If your teenager drops out, he/she is likely to be under-employed -- or unemployed -- in the future.

Here are some helpful pointers to prevent your adolescent from dropping out before it is too late:

1. Concentrate on your teen's goals instead of focusing on why he/she is unsuccessful in school. Have your teen (a) identify goals, (b) develop a list of school, home, and personal barriers to reaching those goals, and (c) devise strategies to overcome the barriers.

2. Consider alternative school settings. Options include magnet schools, alternative schools, charter schools, work-based learning programs, career academies, and general educational development (GED) programs. Include your adolescent in all discussions with school personnel.

3. Encourage your adolescent to seek out extracurricular activities or employment to develop positive relationships and have success outside of a classroom setting. Many schools provide after-school and summer programs that cultivate new interests. Encourage your teen to participate in at least one extra-curricular activity at school. These activities can help your teen feel part of the group, important to the school, and more motivated.

4. Keep track of the credits your teen needs to graduate, beginning in his/her freshman year.

5. Help your teen explore career options and find out what kind of education is needed to be successful in those careers.

6. Identify goals. What interests your teen? What is your teen good at? Technical training or two-year community college programs are appropriate paths to meeting employment goals. If attending a four-year college is the way to reach your adolescent's vocational goal, put steps in place to make this happen.

7. If you suspect your teen has a problem with drugs or alcohol, contact the school guidance counselor or a substance abuse counselor, help line, or an appropriate organization for information and advice.

8. In some cases, a tutor can help a teen who has fallen behind or who has missed important concepts.

9. Know your teen's friends and their families.

10. Beginning in his/her freshman year, let educators know that you want to be contacted immediately if your teen has problems with homework or behavior.

11. Let your adolescent know that people who earn a high school diploma are likely to earn twice as much each year compared to those who don't have a high school diploma or equivalency.

12. Limit the time your teen watches television and plays video games to no more than one or two hours each day.

13. Find out if your school district has a homework hotline that high school students can call for help.

14. Monitor school attendance. If your teen is skipping school, it may be a warning sign that he/she is having trouble. Also, monitor your adolescent's school performance. Periodically check in with his/her educators to find out how things are going.

15. Sometimes, a teen's personality may clash with that of the teacher or another student. Meet directly with the teacher to determine if there is a problem or misunderstanding. In some cases, everyone may benefit if you request that your teen be transferred to a different classroom.

Graduating from high school is a cornerstone of future success. By staying involved, focusing on individual strengths, finding the right school setting, and holding high expectations, moms and dads can help their teens graduate and prepare for successful adulthood.

==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

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