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Teenagers Who Hate School

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My 17-year-old son hates school. He has the ability to do better. How can I help him see that he needs to get serious about his education before it is too late?

A: Your son is not getting all he should from his high school years because he is not motivated to succeed in school. Students who succeed are motivated either internally or externally to do a good job because they see school as a way to maximize the options open to them after graduation. These students may not know what they want to do five or ten years from now, but they do know enough to do a good job in high school so that they will be able to explore different career opportunities. Your son needs to set long-term goals that will give him direction and motivate him to succeed in high school. For example, if he considers having a career in business and learns how important it is to have computer skills, he may become motivated to do well in computer classes.

Career guidance from a school counselor could help your son explore various career options and put him on the right track. He could really benefit and might actually enjoy participating in a work-study program. And start talking to him about different career choices.

Exploring long-term career goals may be helpful in turning things around for your son; nevertheless, you need to find out why he hates school. Students can hate school because they are having social or academic problems. For example, he may have conflicts with teachers or fellow students that are difficult for him to face on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps, your son is not challenged sufficiently in his classes and finds the whole high school experience a needless exercise, or he may be enrolled in classes that are too difficult for him. Also, don't rule out your son's problems stemming from his overall attitude. He may want things to be easy all the time. Until you have pinpointed the cause of your son's problem or problems, you will be unable to get him the specific help he needs to get on the right track in high school. Schedule a conference for yourself and your son with the school counselor to explore why he hates school.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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