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Does your teen want to drop out of school or college

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The saying goes that “School days are the best days of your life”.  Whilst many will clearly sail through their years in the playground, for others the experience is one they cannot wait to forget.  For teens having a rough time at school, dropping out may seem like a great option.  It is our job as parents to help them understand the importance of education, and to find alternative solutions to the issues they may be experiencing.

Dropping out is a life-changing decision, and should only ever be a last resort.  So many entry-level requirements for further study, apprenticeships or jobs include a minimum number of GCSE subject passes at grades A*-C level.  English and Maths are usually the minimum requirement.

Leaving school without these desirable qualifications can make finding work very difficult.  For those whose ability level makes attaining these grades a challenge, simply finishing their education is a huge bonus, and shows future employers that you have dedication and commitment.  Grades certainly help, but they are not the whole story.

What is Driving the Desire to Leave

It is normal for kids get bored at some stage during their educational career.  What is most definitely not normal is a child who is having such a bad experience at school or college they cannot bear to be there.  The first step towards helping your teen is to understand what the problem is.  Common problems include:

  • Bullying – serious harassment can destroy a teen’s self-confidence and affect every area of their life.  It can by physical, mental or emotional, and its effects can be devastating for the victim.  Acknowledging the bullying and working with the school or college to address it are essential actions
  • Acting out – if your teen is constantly misbehaving at school or college they will be regularly on the receiving end of the wrath of the teaching staff.  This is no fun.  This type of behaviour is generally an indicator of underlying problems.  You may already have an inkling of what these are, or may need to enlist the help of a third party to help you find out
  • Struggling with work – Whilst failure is part of learning to be successful, everyone needs a boost now and again to stay motivated.  If your teen is constantly falling behind and struggling with their work, they will become disillusioned.  Talk to the school or college, they may not be aware there is a problem, and can suggest strategies to help
  • Boredom – very bright teens may find that they breeze through their work and spend much of their time bored and not stimulated.   A less structured learning environment can be best for this type of student.  Advancing to a more challenging class can also pay dividends
  • Home issues – home life can have a significant effect on your teen.  Divorce, grief, moving home, abuse, illness and so on, can all affect how your teen reacts to their external world.  Support is essential for your teen at such times, both within the family and perhaps via counselling.
  • Teen pregnancy – mercifully rare, this is nevertheless a reason why some girls drop out of school.  Most local authorities have programmes in place to support pregnant teens, so dropping out is not always necessary, and a workable alternative can generally be found to allow your teen to complete their education.

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How to Help

We have touched on some of the solutions above, but there are many more practical approaches that parents can take to help teens cope with issues that are affecting their educational life.

Cultivating a support network for your teen will provide them with an outlet for expressing their concerns and emotions.  If your teen is surrounded by people who do not value education, then their own attitude will tend to be the same.  Try to encourage contact with individuals and groups who see the worth in finishing school.

Getting professional help when necessary should also always be considered.  Initially, simply talking to the school or college teaching staff can be very revealing, and you can work together to help address the specific issues you teen is experiencing.  Beyond that, external counselling or behavioural assessment can also be very valuable.

Finally, simply being a positive and supportive presence in your teen’s life can make a world of difference.  Be sure to celebrate their successes, and help them to learn resilience and persistence in the face of challenges.  Showing your teen that they are not alone, and that you believe in them,  is often the key to unlocking their own self-confidence.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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