As a parent, it’s disheartening when your son says he wants to drop out of school. You may have already known that he didn’t like school. Maybe he’s struggled with grades. Or perhaps he just hasn’t had a lot of friends in his class. Either way, you didn’t think that he disliked school enough to actually drop out.
If your son has said that he wants to drop out of school, take it seriously. There are legal limits regarding how old he can be to legally drop out, and those ages vary from state to state. If he’s underage, though, you still need to address your son’s problems with school. If those problems continue, he might still want to drop out when he’s old enough to legally do so.
How to talk to your teenager about dropping out of school
If your teen has said that they want to drop out, there are several things that you should discuss with them. During these discussions, be open and honest with your teen about their options and what they can expect from each option.
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between not wanting to attend the school they currently attend and completely dropping out of school. You need to get to the root of the issue and help them make the best choices possible.
Why do they want to drop out?
Find out why they want to drop out of school.
Do they view their classes as pointless?
Do they want to go into a career field that won’t use those lessons?
Do they struggle with classwork and feel like they won’t pass their class anyway?
Do they feel like an outcast in their school and hate being around the other people in their class?
If they don’t have a direct answer when you ask why they want to drop out of school, ask direct questions like the ones mentioned above. Depending on their reasoning, you might be able to help them find a route to graduation.
Can their school help?
If your teen’s issue is with the school, their guidance counselor might be able to help. They might be able to switch your son to a different classroom or help set up tutoring sessions.
If your teen wants to go into a vocational career, they might be able to participate in a work/study program. Many high schools have programs that allow the students to attend a traditional class for part of the day and attend a vocational school for the other part of the day. This would set your teen up to officially graduate from high school while also building a skill set related to their preferred career.
Does your teen understand the long-term impact of dropping out?
Make sure that your teen understands the long-term impact of dropping out. If they drop out of school and do not get a high school diploma or GED (General Equivalency Diploma), it will be much harder for them to get a well-paying job. At times, they may struggle to get a job at all.
The rate of college attendance has increased over the past few decades, and employers can find plenty of applicants who have a college degree or at least a high school diploma. Their recent decision to drop out will affect them long into the future.
Also, make it clear that your expectations at home will change if they drop out of school. If they want to quit school to be an “adult,” start giving them more adult responsibilities. If they are old enough for you to do so, require them to get a job and pay rent to keep living in your house. Your job as the parent has been to support them while they were getting their education. Their job as the kid was to graduate high school. If they’re not going to hold up their end of that bargain, the expectations should change.
Options if your teen still wants to graduate
If your teen would still like to graduate from high school but does not want to attend a traditional school, you have a few options. Again, talk these options over with your teen and be honest about the expectations for each one.
Getting a GED. Many employers view a GED on an equal level as a high school diploma. Your teen will still have to attend the required classes and pass the required tests, but they would not have to attend a traditional school.
Virtual schooling or homeschooling. This will likely take more effort on your part as the parent, but it’s a valid path to a high school diploma. Your teen will have to take the initiative to complete all of their classwork, which could be an excellent option to build self-reliance.
Alternative schooling. Depending on where you live, you might be able to find an alternative education center that focuses on education for teens who don’t like the traditional school system. They will still have to attend some classes and pass their tests, but it wouldn’t be a traditional schooling environment.
Attending a residential boarding school. Some students who struggle with traditional schools also lack the motivation to complete classwork on their own. This can make it difficult to obtain a high school diploma and get started in a successful career. Residential boarding schools teach life skills along with required high school classwork.
If you think that your teen son might benefit from attending a residential boarding school, contact us today for more information about our school.