Your teenager is a wonderful kid. He or she is smart, kind, funny, and cute — all the things you’d hoped they would be one day. There’s only one problem: your teenager hates school. You’ve talked with your teen and ruled out bullying as the culprit. It has nothing to do with a specific teacher or subject. Your teenager simply can’t stand school.
Short of pulling them out of school, what are your options? How can you get your teen to enjoy learning once more? Take a deep breath — you’ll both get through this! Here are a few effective ways to flip the script this year and get your teenager excited about school.
1. Explore Career Options with Them
But mom, math is completely pointless! Ever heard your teen say that before? If your teenager doesn’t have any long-term career goals, it’s pretty easy to see how they might come to that conclusion. Your teenager doesn’t see the point in their education because they haven’t thought much — if at all — about their career. Why not help them explore their career options? Talk about what they want to do when they’re older. Discuss their hobbies. Encourage them to seek out job shadowing programs and internships for high school students. Once they find a career path that excites them, they’ll be more motivated to complete the coursework that gets them closer to their dream career.
2. Avoid Nagging and Unnecessary Criticism
Stressing about your teen’s future? That’s completely understandable! Just be careful not to allow your worries and fears to manifest into criticism and constant nagging. Most people don’t respond well to consistent criticism, and that definitely includes teenagers.
In fact, research has shown that teenagers are less likely to respond to a controlling tone of voice and more likely to engage with instructions when given a sense of encouragement and self-expression. Bottom line? Ease up on the pressure and support your teen instead. They’ll be more likely to listen!
3. Encourage Better Organizational and Time Management Skills
Let’s face it, teens have a lot on their plates these days. Between completing schoolwork, participating in extracurriculars, and maintaining their social life, it’s easy for some things to fall through the cracks.
If your teen is super disorganized and doesn’t have good time management skills, they may just be feeling overwhelmed. Try to help them develop these critical skills by developing routines and using a simple folder system for assignments. There are also many task apps for students that can help your teen stay on track by sending them reminders via text, email, or even tweets.
4. Tell Them (Lovingly) to Get a Job
Some teens may need different arenas in order to thrive and be successful. A job can provide a valuable opportunity for your teen to be the best version of themselves outside of the classroom. Some of the best jobs for teens will teach important life lessons, such as how to work well with others and the value of a dollar. And since many teen jobs are in the service sector and pay minimum wage, it may get your teen thinking more seriously about his or her career.
Is your teen too busy to hold down a job? Try to find volunteer opportunities for teens that they can do whenever they have spare time in their schedule. Volunteering offers similar benefits for teens by helping them build a strong work ethic. Plus, it looks fantastic on a resume!
5. Find a Mentor for Your Teen
Mentoring can be an immensely powerful tool in helping your teen succeed in life. Sometimes, kids simply need support and encouragement from a non-parent source. A good mentor can be that and so much more.
In addition to listening and encouraging your teen, mentors can help them develop a meaningful career path be an advocate for their well-being. Ideally, the right mentor is someone whom your teen looks up to and respects. If you don’t know anyone who could be a mentor to your teen, find a local mentoring program that will match your teen with a suitable mentor.
6. Consider an Alternative School
Some students don’t respond well to a standard education. If your normally smart-as-a-whip teen is getting poor grades at school, you may want to consider putting them in an alternative high school. Alternative high schools provide a nontraditional learning experience for students who may benefit from unique instruction or scheduling.
Put simply, alternative schools could be a game-changer for your unmotivated teen. However, not all alternative schools are created equal. Be sure to do some digging before you put your teen in a different school.
7. Keep an Open Mind
Most parents want their kids to get good grades so they can get into college. But what does your teenager want? Earning a degree is impressive and all, but it’s not the only way to launch a successful career.
If your teen isn’t interested in attending a four-year university, encourage them to explore their career options. Is your teen a hands-on learner? Perhaps they could score an apprenticeship and learn a trade. What about community college? Your teen could get their associate’s degree in two years or less, which could open doors to some well-paying jobs.
There are many career options outside of attending a traditional four-year university. Explore them with your teen and let them be the ones to plan their future.
Finding What Works for Your Teen
There is no single magical formula for getting your teen excited about school. Some teens will respond to the strategies above and some won’t. But keep at it! Change doesn’t happen overnight. With your continued love, acceptance, and support, you can help facilitate a positive change in your teen. At the very least, you’ll make school more bearable for them.