End of School Year Brings Many Changes for Students
By Blake Palmer
Within weeks, the end of school will be here and yet another academic year will have gone by for our students. For some, it was their first year at a new school, others are graduating seniors, and some have many more years to go. During May, I encourage adults to pay attention to the young people in their life, and be supportive and understanding to the changes and challenges they are going through during the end of a school year.
Students may be preparing for college, obtaining their drivers license or getting their first summer job. These pivotal moments might seem trivial to adults, but they are important milestones for young people. They represent steps in their lives that lead to more freedom, responsibility and decision-making. This time is especially crucial for teens to develop decision-making and problem-solving skills. Adults can help by being respectful and supportive of the young people in their lives, while giving up some control, when appropriate.
For seniors heading off to college or a new full-time work environment, prepare your teen to be self-sufficient away from home. Knowing simple skills such as managing a budget, paying bills, cooking, or doing laundry can help teens feel more confident being away from home.
Really listen to your teen and wait before giving unsolicited advice as they navigate their decisions. Often young people just want to talk through their problems and be heard by a trusted adult. If they seem to desire more feedback or answers, they will let you know. Simply sharing that you’ve been through a similar situation can help them feel less alone.
These students are moving into the next chapter of their lives. I would encourage anyone who knows a student, in any grade level, to reach out with a hand of encouragement for them in whatever their next step is moving forward. Resist lecturing and try to remain supportive and enthusiastic. Your teen needs your support and positive feedback during this transitional (but exciting) time.
Blake Palmer is the Vanderburgh County Teen Court Program Coordinator at Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana.