The teenage years present distinct challenges, and today's rapidly-changing culture combined with high expectations of achievement in a system that doesn't personalize can leave many teens feeling disconnected. These days it may just seem “par for the course” for teens to be stressed at school, but there are good reasons why it shouldn't be that way. Parents and schools should set a high bar, not just for teen achievement, but for teen happiness.
As a nation, we are worried about our teens. Patricia Hersch, in a book titled A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence, states, “All parents feel an ominous sense — like distant rumbles of thunder moving closer and closer — that even their child could be caught in the deluge of adolescent dysfunction sweeping the nation.” The good news is that we have begun to identify some of the key factors that can help teens avoid the pitfalls of adolescence — and even thrive.
One thing we know for sure is that relationships at school are a critical predictive factor for a broad range of healthy outcomes:
Overall, young people’s experiences of early secondary school and their relationships at school continue to predict their moods, their substance use in later years, and their likelihood of completing secondary school. Students with good school and good social connectedness are less likely to experience subsequent mental health issues and be involved in health risk behaviors, and are more likely to have good educational outcomes.
All in all, we say, “yes!” — it matters if your teen is stressed or unhappy at school. If that is the case, we recommend you address the issue immediately — either by supporting your teen to resolve the issue in their current school, or by considering other options.
At ATI, we set a very high bar for the social and emotional environment that each of our student's experiences. Far beyond simply offering a curriculum discussing social and emotional wellness, every aspect of the ATI program has been designed to enhance a teen's healthy connectedness with the school experience and with their peers. Our goal is to provide more teens with access to a schooling experience that helps them flourish.