There are so many skills we work to teach our children, and among them is how to become a good self-advocate. As the nurse at Rock Point School, one of my jobs is to help students learn how to utilize the health care system and to become effective consumers. As children get older and become teenagers, it is important for them to begin to take ownership over their health and wellness.
In October, we hosted a discussion with local therapist and adoption specialist Benjamin Houchen on Adoption and Adolescents. We invited families in our community to join us to share insight and ask questions about how best to support teens who were adopted. While each family is unique, Houchen addressed the themes that emerge during adolescence and the particular significance they have for children who have been adopted.
Wilderness and therapeutic programs can be a significant resource for some teens and families. These programs provide a safe and structured environment where young people can work through a crisis point, address behaviors that are harmful, and gain emotional and social skills that will allow them to flourish. Because many of these programs are designed for short term treatment, families and educational consultants can be left searching for the right “next place” for their teenagers.
As they move into “back to school” season, teens may be experiencing lots of anxiety around school work, schedules, friendships, and activities. They have to negotiate new teachers, try-outs for activities, and navigate new social situations. Many teens are going from a relatively relaxing summer to a highly scheduled school year and they simply may be out of “shape” for the transition back to school.
If you’ve been paying attention to the educational landscape in the past few years, you’ve probably heard the terms “Social and Emotional Learning,” “Grit,” “Resilience,” “Life Skills,” or “Soft Skills” being thrown around. While it is clear that these skills are extremely important to our young people and can be a large factor in determining success, it can be difficult to sort out which specific skills fall into these categories and how to teach them. At Rock Point School, we refer to teaching these skills as educating the “whole person.”
You may have heard that Malia Obama is taking a year ‘off’, known as a gap year, before she enters Harvard University in the fall of 2017. This news has brought lots of attention to what has become a trend - students taking a year between graduating high school and beginning college. To some, this seems like a luxury, and certainly there are luxurious excursion or adventure options for a gap year, but to others this year can be extremely beneficial and make their college experience more meaningful.
When I tell people I’m the Head of a high school, I often get the response “Wow! It must be hard working with teenagers.” As a culture, we tend to be intimidated by adolescents based on some common misperceptions and stereotypes in the media. Let's explore some of the reasons why adolescents can seem intimidating plus tips for nurturing healthy teenage (and adult) brains.
As we are heading into our vacation, I am thinking about a student at Rock Point from many years ago who really struggled to get back into the school schedule when she returned from vacation. It was impossible to get her downstairs for breakfast before her first class of the day. Jokingly, we made the first day back from vacation “Tara clause” - making breakfast optional that first Monday morning to help students ease back into school. To this day, some students still use the “Tara clause” on the first morning back from break!
The other day, a visitor to Rock Point School noticed the many dogs we have in the building. He asked, “Are these all therapy dogs?” I paused before answering with a grin, “Therapy with a small t …” While our dogs are not certified therapy animals, they serve an informal therapeutic purpose for our students. This is just one example of how a school, particularly a small residential boarding school, can provide therapeutic supports without being a “big T” Therapeutic school.