How to help teenagers who drop out of school

Dianne asks: How can I help children who drop out of school?

Hi Dianne –


What a good person you must be!  Because kids who drop out of school definitely need help.


Now I need to admit a bias here – unless there’s a really strong reason (say, a kid lives on a farm and he needs to leave school to help work the fields and keep his family alive; or if the school is truly dangerous), I’m really against kids dropping out.  There aren’t a lot of things that our societies give to kids, and school is one of the greatest.  Even in a lousy school, kids can learn so many things that will help them later in life, and make friends who’ll last forever.


But it sounds to me like you’re asking what to do after they’ve dropped out, so my feelings about dropping out aren’t very relevant.


Well I guess it’s kind of obvious, but if a dropout doesn’t have a job, the most helpful thing you can do for them is to help them get one.  The sooner they enter the workforce, the better shape they’ll be in when the kids who they went to school with show up, with their degrees in their hands, looking to join in.


The next thing I’d push is to help them get more great friends.  You can never have too many.  And sometimes dropouts will hang out with some people who aren’t so good for them.  Do you have connections with groups that these kids could join?  Of course, a good job will connect them with a lot of folks, but if they can hang with good folks during their free time too, that’ll be best.


And the third, and probably hardest, thing I’d suggest would be to encourage them to somehow continue getting educated.  Even if they couldn’t stay in school, they can still keep learning.  Can they study things that would help them improve in their job?  Can they read books they didn’t get to in school (Handsome drives a lot, and loves listening to them in his car)?


I’m sure a lot of other experts would say a lot more, but these are the three things that hit me the strongest.  There are very successful adults who dropped out of schools.  But there are none who dropped out and then didn’t do these three things.


Good Luck, Dianne.  And thanks for doing the good work!


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