If you read the first part of this article, “Progress Report Time, Part I: Where Does Your Child Stand?”, you know that the first mid-term grade report of the year is an excellent opportunity to assess your teen’s academic progress before it’s too late in the year to affect any real change. You also know that approaching this assessment from a constructive standpoint – focusing on the things your teen has accomplished, however nominal, and using those as the basis for weekly “mini-goals” – is usually an effective method of helping your teen get back on track for the remainder of the semester.
There is a chance, however, that the first progress report confirms the concerns you had at the end of the last school year and over the summer – the worry that perhaps your teen isn’t going to turn things around as you had hoped and that this school year will simply be an ugly rerun of the last. If that’s the case – and if your teen does indeed seem to be heading down the very same path as before (his/her grades are spiraling downward, peer groups and social concerns perilously overshadow academic responsibilities) or worse, your teen seems to be struggling even more than last year or is demonstrating behaviors that are even more concerning (loss of interest in school activities he/she once enjoyed, sudden change in peer group, drastic change in attitude, social isolation or hostility), it’s time to take action.
The first step, as always, is to make sure that you are in direct and immediate contact with your teen’s teachers, coaches and school counselors, as well as church youth group leaders or other adults who have some involvement in your teen’s life (including step-parents). Ideally, you already maintain regular communication with most of these adults; if not, now is definitely the time to start. Ask for their insight into your teen’s progress and for constructive suggestions as to the type of help and support your teen may need: because teachers and coaches see a very different side of your child’s personality (the “student” or the “athlete” for example) it’s not unusual for them to notice behavioral or emotional concerns that may only “emerge” or play out when your teen is not at home – information that can be both revealing and potentially helpful for your child.
It may become clear, as a result of these conversations, that your teen’s current school or community environment is contributing to his/her struggles, either because it lacks the resources or staff to provide the focused attention, support and care your teen needs or because your child’s “track record” has (however unfairly) pigeonholed him/her as a troublemaker or a poor/under-motivated student. In this case, no matter how optimistic you may feel about your teen’s potential to turn things around, leaving them in that environment will set them up for continued failure.
Instead, consider educational alternatives that may give your teen both the academic and the emotional support he/she needs to develop the personal skills necessary for independent success. After all, until your child has developed those skills, he/she will not be able to achieve the goals you two set forth at the beginning of the school year no matter how hard he/she tries – or how earnest his/her intentions really are.
Therapeutic or “emotional growth” boarding schools are often the most effective option for students who are struggling academically and behaviorally in their current schooling environment. And while sending your child away to school (see “How Can I Send My Child Away?”) might
feel like an overly drastic reaction to a poor progress report, if that progress report is one of many – and if you are indeed finding yourselves “back at square one” in terms of your teen’s behavior and academic performance – it is exactly the right move.
Based on rolling admission (which means your child can enter at almost any point during the year), therapeutic boarding schools are designed to support you, your teen and your entire family at precisely the moment you need it most: now (see “Don’t Delay: Five Reasons to Enroll in Boarding School Now”). With comprehensive counseling, guidance and academic support available on a 24/7 basis, not to mention substantially smaller class-sizes and communities based on clearly structured schedules and codes of conduct,therapeutic boarding schools relieve struggling teens of social and academic pressure (see “The Benefits of All-Girls’ Boarding Schools”) and instead focus on the empowerment, esteem and confidence vital to