Alternative schools are a well-known option for children and teens who have otherwise struggled to maintain a focus on their education and mental wellness in a traditional school setting. If your teen has been struggling with behavioral problems, you may wonder if there is an alternative school option that may help him.
All too often, we wait until our children and teens are in crisis with their struggles. Largely because we want to believe that we can help them ourselves. In reality, the better option for many of us is to get our children and teens the help that they need sooner than later.
What Can an Alternative School Offer?
You may wonder just what an alternative school is and how it can help your teen. If your teen isn’t what you’d consider beong in crisis just yet, you may also wonder if it’s too soon to be considering alternative solutions for his education.
In years past, alternative schools were considered the only option for students at an increased risk of dropping out or being disruptive in the traditional school setting. Today, the expanded services offered by these educational facilities will meet the wider needs of the struggling child and adolescent.
Also often viewed as being a place for teens without hope to languish, alternative schools actually offer a strong supportive setting for teens who are not thriving in the traditional school environment. There are many reasons that a teen may not at least meet his potential in a traditional school. Maybe his mental wellness, physical health, and behavior needs are not being taken into consideration.
Your teen’s school counselors may have tried to offer an IEP or 504 plan, to get your teen’s education back on course. But to no avail. Your teen consistently struggles.
An alternative school can offer your teen the ability to get a fresh start, learn new and valuable life skills, recover missing credits, and finally see himself with a bright future ahead of him.
Each of these educational alternatives will offer their own treatment and learning environment. They will offer a focus on guiding students towards learning and improving upon essential life skills, social skills, and their self-esteem. Teens will learn at the pace that works for them.
They will also benefit from a range of therapeutic options that include individual therapy, group sessions, and behavioral modification therapy. The programs your teen will go through will be planned around his mental health, his educational needs, and his overall responsiveness to treatment.
Public schools are not only underfunded, but they rarely have the right resources needed to provide students with the one-on-one attention that they need. This individual attention and focus can be incredibly beneficial for students who are struggling with behavioral problems.
Types of Alternative Schools
There are several other terms used to describe alternative schools. Including the following.
- Magnet schools or charter schools. These are a good option for students who are gifted but could benefit from smaller class sizes and more individualized attention from educators.
- Therapeutic wilderness programs
- Therapeutic boarding schools
- Boot camp
- Military schools
- Residential treatment centers
Each program will provide treatments and programs that are tailored to meet the needs of the individual. With slight variations, of course. The option that you pick will depend on your teen’s personality and the general lifestyle that your family leads. It’s helpful to have an introductory call or meeting with the enrollment counselors at some facilities that you are interested in.
This will give you solid insight into how the school is run, how the students behave at the school, and how they learn to respect themselves and those around them. Ask questions about the curriculum that is followed at each of the schools that you are interested in. That will help you determine just how your teen will benefit from the education alternative he’ll get while attending that facility.
Help at the First Signs of Struggle
Often, by the time that we are ready to pursue outside help with the behavioral problems our teens are sending our way, the situation has progressed to the point of you being frustrated, angry, and struggling with your own mental health. While no situation is completely past the point of getting help, it can save everyone a significant amount of stress, frustration, and time if you can head problems off as they emerge.
Hindsight is 20/20, we all know that. How do you recognize the initial signs of your teen developing behavioral problems?
- One of the first signs that your teen is struggling will be similar to the signs of depression. This could include being easily fatigued, having problems with focus and concentration, being irritaressed and struggle with anxiety. Because teens don’t have the emotional tools needed to express themselves in a healthy way, their depression and anxiety may come out as less sadness and more anger, and even violent outbursts.
- Social isolation and withdrawing from friends and family. It’s expected behavior for teens to withdraw from the family, but it can progress to where they are even ignoring their friends and no longer taking part in activities that they once enjoyed.
- Troubles in school can be slow to escalate or they may seem to explode into a serious problem overnight. It could begin with missed assignments, creating a disturbance during class, skipping classes, or not going to school at all.
- Changes in friends and peer groups can also be a sign that something is amiss with your teen. Often teens will seek peer approval from others they perceive to be higher on the social ladder. These peers don’t always follow the best behavior. Your teen could miss curfew, sneak out, have run-ins with law enforcement, engage in behaviors like drinking, smoking, or become sexually active, and quick to anger.
Your teen may do more than just display signs similar to depression. He may actually become depressed.
By the time that your teen is being escorted home by law enforcement, the situation has likely escalated significantly at home. At the first signs of behavioral problems, or struggles with mental health, parents should reach out to mental wellness professionals so that they can get their teens the right type of help.
We Can Help
HelpYourTeenNow can connect parents with the resources they need when they have a teen who is struggling. There are so many considerations and decisions to make, it’s overwhelming for a parent who is under stress and just stepping into the world of alternative schools and other similar programs. HelpYourTeenNow can minimize some of the stress and chaos by listening and by providing you with the direction you need.
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