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How to Help But Not Enable My Teen Who Is Giving Up in School

by Elise Wile

Some teens seem to breeze through school, while others struggle to make it through each day. If your teen is in the latter category, you'll need to take an active role to keep her from throwing in the towel. You can give your teen plenty of support while continuing to hold her accountable for learning the skills she will need to be independent. Often times, enlisting the support of other people is just the ticket.

Rule out a learning disability. Students with learning disabilities understandably have a more difficult time being successful in school, with 20 percent failing to graduate, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Ask that your child be tested for a learning disability. If she struggles with attention difficulties, reading or calculations, school will be difficult.

Bring your teen's struggles to the attention of the school counselor. If a disability is present, you can ask the school to make accommodations so she will have a better learning experience. For example, an individualized education plan might require that she be allowed to take tests in an environment free from distractions or be allowed an additional day to complete lengthy homework assignments.

Schedule private counseling sessions for your teen. Teens are notorious for not wanting to listen to parents, but often appreciate being able to share their difficulties with another adult. Let the counselor know that she is about to give up on school, and ask him to help to pinpoint the problem. An effective counselor will be able to help encourage your teen, as well as help her to set short-term goals that will help her to continue trying to succeed in school. A counselor can also help to identify any emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety, that could be causing her disengagement from school.

Hire a tutor. Sometimes teens can feel "lost" when they don't understand what is being explained in class. In an algebra class, for example, if your teen missed out on the explanation of how to simplify variables, she will be confused and frustrated when the class is learning how to solve linear inequalities. A tutor can help get your teen up to speed, increasing her engagement in problematic classes.

Consider alternatives to school. Public school is not a good fit for every child. If your child is being bullied, homeschooling might be an answer. More than 2 million students are home-schooled in the United States, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. If you don't feel up to creating your own curriculum, keep in mind that many states have online schools that children can attend from home. Older teens who are bored in school might have better success taking the GED -- the high school diploma equivalency exam -- and enrolling in community college. Private or specialized magnet schools are yet another option.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

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