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If Your Teen Begins to Fail in School
Many teens experience a time when keeping up with school work is difficult. These periods may last several weeks and may include social problems as well as a slide in academic performance.
Research suggests that problems are more likely to occur during a transitional year, such as moving from elementary to middle school, or middle school to high school.
Some adolescents are able to get through this time with minimal assistance from their parents or teachers. It may be enough for a parent to be available simply to listen and suggest coping strategies, provide a supportive home environment, and encourage the child's participation in school activities.
However, when the difficulties last longer than a single grading period, or are linked to a long-term pattern of poor school performance or behavior problems, parents and teachers need to intervene.
Identifying Adolescents Who Are At Risk for Failure
Some "at-risk" indicators, such as those listed here, may represent persistent problems from the early elementary school years for some children. Other students may overcome early difficulties but begin to experience related problems during middle school or high school. For others, some of these indicators may become noticeable only in early adolescence.
To intervene effectively, parents and teachers can be aware of some common indicators of an adolescent at risk for school failure, including:
When more than one of these attributes characterizes an adolescent, the student will likely need assistance from both parents and teachers to complete his or her educational experience successfully. Girls, and students from culturally or linguistically diverse groups, may be especially at risk for academic failure if they exhibit these behaviors. Stepping back and letting these students "figure it out" or "take responsibility for their own learning" may lead to a deeper cycle of failure within the school environment.
Teens Want To Feel Connected to Their Family and Their School
In a recent survey, when students were asked to evaluate their transitional years, they indicated interest in connecting to their new school and requested more information about extracurricular activities, careers, class schedules, and study skills. Schools that develop programs that ease transitions for students and increase communication between schools may be able to reduce student failure rates.
The Role of Parenting Style
Parenting style may have an impact on the child's school behavior. Many experts distinguish among permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative parenting styles. These parenting styles are associated with different combinations of warmth, support, and limit-setting and supervision for children.
The permissive style tends to emphasize warmth and neglect limit-setting and supervision; the authoritarian style tends to emphasize the latter and not the former; while the authoritative style is one in which parents offer warmth and support, and limit-setting and supervision. When the authoritative parenting style is used, the adolescent may be more likely to experience academic success.
It is important to remember that adolescents need their parents not only to set appropriate expectations and boundaries, but also to advocate for them.
Parents -- and teachers -- can assist teens by:
Don't Give Up on Your Child
Understanding the factors that may put an adolescent at-risk for academic failure will help parents determine if their teen is in need of extra support. Above all, parents need to persevere. The teen years do pass, and most adolescents survive them, in spite of bumps along the way.
Being aware of common problems can help parents know when it is important to reach out and ask for help before a difficult time develops into a more serious situation.
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The authors believe that America's schools can improve and present examples of excellence -- educational leaders who firmly believe that all children can succeed, schools that effectively meet the needs of nontraditional learners, and educational communities that don't give up on students who are at risk of dropping out.
20 Reasons Why Your Child Needs You To Be An Active Father ~ Children whose fathers are actively involved in their lives are more likely to achieve academic success than children whose fathers are not actively involved. These academic benefits appear to extend into adulthood.
How To Stay Involved in Middle and High School ~ When your child moves on to middle or high school, staying involved in her education can be tricky. Try these strategies to help your child succeed.
Kids, Divorce and School Success ~ It's best to keep the focus on the kids, and leave parents' egos aside to help kids achieve success in school. Here are some tips to help.
Motivating Low-Performing Adolescent Readers ~ Readers who have negative experiences with reading generally view reading as a process of getting the word right rather than an act of making sense of the material. They do not hear a voice on the page; they do not know they can skip words; they do not know that they must do different things with different kinds of materials.
Do teens suffer more than minor emotional pangs when their parents permanently separate? This study comparison by researchers from three American universities has found that consistently they do.
Strategies for School Success ~ When students are self-confident and believe that they are capable of learning, they have taken a crucial first step toward school success. Parents can cultivate school confidence by helping their children view themselves as able learners.
Teens and School Success (pdf) ~ One of the best indicators of teens' school performance is whether they feel connected to their schools. Feeling connected means that students have a sense that they belong and feel close to people, including teachers and other adults. Attachment to school is also associated with lower rates of sexual activity, fewer thoughts about or attempts at suicide, lower levels of violent behavior, and reduced alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use.
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