So your teen is having trouble. So much so that you feel they are at risk. This a serious situation and one which you as their parent want to overcome. You have heard about teens getting into serious trouble with drugs, crime, depression and out of control behavior. You want your child to avoid the harm this type of activity can bring.You’ve heard about programs in schools and other outdoor facilities. You want to find the right school for your child. So what should you look for?
- Academic progress. Therapy for the specific needs of your teen is an essential component in any school for at-risk youth. But you want to ensure the general schooling of your teen is maintained. Check to see the syllabus on offer at the school. Does it provide for an on-going academic program? What subjects are offered and how much time is set aside for academic pursuits? Will any work undertaken be counted or recognized when your teen re-enters their previous school?
- Therapy. This is arguably the most important thing to look for in any school for at-risk youth. Ordinary schools do not have the time or resources to address specific problems worrying their students. Not so at a school for at-risk youth. Here they will offer therapy designed to meet the needs of your child. The therapy sessions will be regular, on a daily basis and in two types – one-to-one and in groups. This is what you as a parent needs to focus on. Who are the therapists? What is their training and experience? What is the therapy program? Remember that you want your child to return home a changed person and you want their new attitude to continue for the rest of their life. The therapy program is what should largely help you make the choice as to which school you will select.
- Outdoor activities. Many schools for at-risk youth, such as wilderness schools, place an emphasis on outdoor activities. This can take many forms such as hiking, mountain climbing, sailing, camping and caring for animals. Professionals have found that these healthy pursuits have many benefits. Your child is away from the bad influences which probably caused their problems in the first place. The activities are a physical and mental challenge. They help promote leadership skills in many students. They allow students to make firm friendships which can continue long after the school visit is over. And they teach new skills and foster self-esteem. Cooking in the bush, taking responsibility for the safety of others and respect for nature are just some of the benefits gained by the youth in these activities.
- Extra activities. Does the school have a music or drama component? Can the students explore the arts? Are there other subjects will occupy your child in worthwhile and interesting pastimes? Remember the school for an at-risk youth should not be a punishment but rather an inspiration. You want your son or daughter to undergo a change of attitude. You want them to become interested in life, in good and positive projects. You want them to respect others, to respect themselves and to come home a changed person.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in: