Helping Teens Struggling in School

Helping Teens Struggling in School

How to help teens struggling in school

When I was teaching, the hardest month of the year was always October. From the outside looking in you may be thinking “the school year is just getting started” or “the spring has a lot more stressful things,” but I can promise you, October was always rough for everyone, especially for teens struggling in school. I called it the October Slump. As the initial back-to-school enthusiasm wears off, many students find it difficult to stay on top of their academic responsibilities.

Keep reading for a list of common reasons for this slump and practical strategies to help teenagers overcome it.

1. Academic Overload

Teens often face an increasing academic workload in October, leading to stress and feeling overwhelmed.

Solution: Encourage your teen to create a realistic study schedule, prioritize tasks, and break them into manageable chunks to reduce stress.

2. Lack of Motivation

The initial excitement of the school year can wane, causing a drop in motivation.

Solution: Help your teen set specific goals for October, fostering a sense of purpose and achievement to reignite their motivation.

3. Social Distractions

As the school year progresses, social engagements can distract teens from their studies.

Solution: Encourage your teen to balance social life and academics through effective time management and prioritization.

4. Seasonal Changes

The transition from summer to fall can impact teens’ energy levels and moods.

Solution: Promote physical activity, outdoor time, and a healthy sleep schedule to combat seasonal changes’ effects.

5. Encourage Self-Care

Teach your teen the importance of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Solution: Share self-care strategies and practice them together to strengthen your bond and provide valuable life skills.

In our summer podcast (listen here), we discussed how these issues can sometimes be mistaken for laziness. Open communication is essential for helping your teen during these moments.
Here are some questions to ask:
  • Is their work appropriately challenging?
  • Where can I help them find control in their life?
  • Are my teen’s needs being met?
  • Is their body going through changes?
The October Slump is a common challenge, but remember that each teenager is unique. With patience, understanding, and guidance, you can help your teen overcome this hurdle and achieve academic success. Be prepared for the month ahead and empower your teen to thrive academically.
Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

More Resources You Might Like

Background image of boy laying on couch with computer. Title overlay reads Teen Life Podcast Episode 111, Laziness
Episode 123: School Partnerships & Fantasy Football
Episode 19: Back to School Anxiety and Simone Biles

Ep. 41: Dating at School & Valentine’s Day

Ep. 41: Dating at School & Valentine’s Day

 Listen & Subscribe

 

Summary:
From Singles’ Awareness Day to Galentine’s to Valentine’s Day, February 14 usually evokes a reaction, and it’s no different with teenagers! Teen Life Program Director Tobin Hodges joins Karlie Duke to talk teen romance and what parents and teachers can do to encourage teens have healthy dating relationships.

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and has always had a heart for teenagers and the vulnerable life stage they are in. She has a wealth of experience to share from working with teens in ministry and leading support groups.

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Tobin graduated with a Bachelors of Music from Texas Tech University. A teacher’s kid twice over, he taught for 13 years before coming to Teen Life. His entire career has been centered around helping students and teens from all walks of life become the best version of themselves

Follow Us

Ep. 6: School Life & Memes

Ep. 6: School Life & Memes

 Listen & Subscribe

 

It’s not difficult to imagine that mental health has deep-rooted effects on academic achievement. Succeeding at school is as much a health issue as it is a mind-game. Chris and Karlie talk school and how to help students achieve a healthy school life.

Also on this week’s episode, the meme phenomenon. What it is and why people love it.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question? If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
About Us:
Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.
Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

Follow Us

The Importance of Asking…Twice.

The Importance of Asking…Twice.

This post was written by one of our facilitators, Sarah Brooks. Sarah is a blogger, mom of 3 boys and social media expert! She has spoken across the country at various groups, churches, and schools about social media (the good, the bad, and the confusing), most of which stemmed from a post she wrote called Parents: A Word About Instagram. Sarah currently facilitates a High School Support Group in Fort Worth ISD.

———

I had a mild panic attack the morning I was set to lead my first Teen Life group. When I started looking over lesson one, I was shocked by how personal the discussion questions were. There was no building rapport, no easing in to sensitive topics with these people. No – right out of the gate, they expect me to walk into a group of teenagers I’ve never seen before, teenagers who are presumably hurting and/or experiencing significant life crisis, and ask questions like,

“On a scale from 1-10, how do you feel about yourself?”

and

“How much do you feel others care about you?”

For real??

I’m a wealthy suburban housewife facilitating a group in one of the lowest performing, lowest income high schools in our area. I knew these teens would be skeptical of me before I even said a word, but after reading lesson one I was afraid they’d actually be mad at such a blatant invasion of privacy.

None of it made sense….except that it worked. All the questions. None unanswered.

How? How is that possible?

I think the answer is in something I heard from a different group of teenagers a few weeks ago.

———

During a small group discussion at a church student conference last month, a group of high schoolers and I were talking about the topic of friendship. What it looks like, the difference between online connection and in-person community, etc.

I asked them what traits they looked for in a friend.

“Authenticity.” one said. “No judgment.” said another.

Then one girl said, “I want a friend who will ask me how I’m doing….twice. Once for the fake answer, then again for the real answer. I want a friend who will wait and press for the real answer.”

(*pause to slow clap for that answer*)

I knew exactlywhat she was talking about, because over the past several months I’ve been conducting a social experiment I find hysterical that my husband is ever-so-slightly embarrassed by.

It goes like this: we’re eating a restaurant and the waiter comes up and asks one of a few standard questions, either “How are you tonight?” or “How was your food?”

Something along those lines.

My husband answers “Great!” at the same time I answer a loud “MEHHHH” with a noncommittal shrug. Sometimes if I’m feeling extra obnoxious, I say, “Not great!”

I’ve done this countless times in countless restaurants with countless waitstaff and not a single personhas a) heard me or b) asked a follow up question.

Nobody hears me because nobody is actually listening.

I mean, it’s dinner at a restaurant. Who cares, right? I don’t need to be best friends with Olive Garden James.

But I’m beginning to realize we do this a lot in regular life, too.

We ask all the right questions – because we’re interested and polite, of course – but we don’t actually listen for the answers.

How many times have you had an entire conversation with someone in which you didn’t hear a word they said?

You say, “Hey! How are you?” and as soon as the person starts answering your mind bounces to your work inbox and how you need to pick up the dry cleaning before they close and how your kid has that weird science project with the apples and – oh! he’s finished talking I should ask another question…

We live in a culture with really long to do lists and really cheap communication. We get so busy we forget to actually stop and listen.

———

And this exactly why my Teen Life groups work. This is why those first students didn’t storm out on day one.

The curriculum we use provides practical, helpful tools for teenagers about how to live life better. It’s incredible.

But more than that, these students know that in a world stuffed so full of “connections” we’ve somehow disconnected ourselves from real conversation, they have a place once a week where they can come and be heard.

Even better, they’re heard by an adult who isn’t paid to talk to them, who didn’t give birth to them, and who apparently has no better hobby than to drive across town every Thursday to listen to what they have to say, simply because she – and the rest of the Teen Life team – believes in them.

We stop and we listen. (Curiously. We listen curiously.)

In today’s society, with today’s teens, that can make all the difference in the world.

Bad Reputation

Bad Reputation

A teen’s reputation follows them everywhere.

How does your teen view theirs?

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the final concert of Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour. Now this is not a post about Taylor Swift herself, but her newest album tackles an interesting topic that teenagers and young adults are identifying with everywhere – reputation. Whether for good or for bad, your reputation impacts how others look at you, treat you, speak to you, or think about you.

In the world we live in today, reputation follows teens everywhere.

It is on social media, and it keeps them up at night through texts and pictures. Can you imagine? Used to, in order to control your reputation, you just had to get to people with your version of the story before anyone else. Now, anyone can write the narrative for you – through social media posts or a text, or an unfortunate picture or video. It is enough to cause any teenager a lot of anxiety.

So what is your teen’s reputation?

Do you know? Have you asked? Do they feel like they are in control of their story?

To go back to Taylor Swift…At her concert, she stopped in the middle to talk about reputation – hers and the crowd’s. She said the following:

“I learned a really important lesson that I’ve been telling you from the stage for about 10 years, but I never had to learn it so harshly myself and that lesson has to do with how much you value your reputation. And I think that the lesson is that you shouldn’t care so much if you feel misunderstood by a lot of people who don’t know you, as long as you feel understood by the people who do know you. The people who will show up for you. With people who see you as a human being.”

And the crowd went absolutely WILD.

Why? Because they identified with it. Everyone in that audience could think of a time when they were misunderstood. When someone believed a lie or reputation instead of taking the time to ask the person first.

Reputation is important. And it is something that needs to be talked about in our homes, church buildings, and schools. I urge you to start this conversation with a teen you know.

Here are some conversation starters for talking with your teen about their reputation.

  • What do your friends, teachers, and coaches think about you? What would you say your reputation is?
  • How can you control your reputation?
  • What could you do if you felt misunderstood or that your reputation didn’t reflect who you really were?
  • Do you feel like you can trust the people around you to protect your reputation? How could friends or peers ruin your reputation?
  • How does social media affect people’s reputation?
  • Do you have any friends who have been negatively affected by their reputation?
  • Who has the best reputation that you know? How do you think they protect their reputation?

As I listened to tens of thousands of girls scream the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s newest album, I knew she had hit a cord with our culture.

Lyrics like: “They’re burning all the witches even if you aren’t one. So light me up.” or “Reputation precedes me, they told you I’m crazy. I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me.”

While I am glad teenagers have different outlets to express their pain and frustration, let’s make sure they are hearing our voices on the issue of reputation. Please don’t let Taylor Swift be the only person they can turn to!

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

More Resources You Might Like

episode 127 - Sibling Dynamics + Drive Thru Challenge + Eras Tour (1)
128 - Girl Math + Spicy Chip Challenge + RushTok + Body Image
Ep 92 - Social Media Report & Parasocial Relationships