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After being unreachable for the last several months, yesterday evening I caught up with my 18-years-old nephew. He gave me updates and related. One thing is he's planning to drop-out. He is in his third (I think) high school now, going nights. He claims there are no particular reasons for his absence other than lack of motivation, apathy, and general disdain for the school system.

He's thinking of doing some sort of homeschooling concept because he can learn on his own terms. (Misc.: he mentioned Penn Foster which I suspect is overrated and also too expensive: he has to pay for this himself and he only has erratic income which is often spent on cigarettes, beer, clothes, and peer socialization.) He tells me this is great because he can learn better without the stuffiness and rigidity of the school system and essentially "people telling him what to do all the time who don't know better." (Paraphrase.)

Personally, I believe he has very poor self-motivation, perhaps a touch of ADHD or related, and possibly have learning disabilities. For example, he is a terrible reader, often unable/unwilling to understand or follow directions, etc. He's continued to refuse counseling, etc. for the possible disorders. In general, he needs a lot of support for academic and general reasons and on his own in this area, I think he will fail miserably.

He also apparently needs/wants a computer, but again no money for it (unless he pays for it himself) and no clue really how to use one beyond email. Unlike the reputation of most of today's teenagers, he is technology-averse.

I don't genuinely believe (though he tells me otherwise) he will / can follow a course of self-instruction after the initial novelty and idea wears off. I believe (and told him) he's a heavily social person and requires interaction with peers or others and relies much on external feedback (good or bad, whether negative reinforcement, peer pressure, or reactive rebellion). On his own, unless he *loves* something or has an inherently emotional gut feeling, he rarely goes through difficult and distasteful processes. I believe general academic studies would be considered difficult and distasteful for him. In short, I think he's looking to homeschooling as a cop-out to avoid and deny issues, not really to work on things. He's never shown a real interest in academic or what I refer with him to as "hands-off" or vicarious learning processes. He doesn't like reading (perhaps related to the fact he struggles with reading), is easily bored when not in a socially interactive environment or without TV/movies, etc. Everything I know of him screams "this idea won't work."

I'm struggling with ideas to keep him in school. There are several special alternate and public high school programs that I have already told him about by name and basic description that may suit his needs, but he doesn't take those seriously.

In any case, I could be wrong. I'm worried about him, but he may well just be a complete drop out on his own.

Anyone deal with keeping kids from dropping out? Guidance appreciated in this area.

ST
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ST,
I don't have any guidance about how to keep kids from dropping out of school, but I do have a hopeful story.

My sister dropped out.
Eventually, she figured out that she needed education to make her employable and got her GED. She went on to get a Master's Certificate in Early Childhood Education (a certificate program, not a Master's degree) and is now considered a leader in her field.

There is also an exam you can take to get out of high school, although he seems old for that.

Best wishes for being a good influence on your nephew. It's so heart-wrenching to see people you love insist on learning life's lessons the hard way.

Vickifool
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Hello Vickifool,

Thank you for your reply. I realize there's no real way to convince an 18-years-old mind if it's already been made up, but I'm hoping there's still some room for real doubt for him.

Nonetheless I hope he'll eventually see the value in getting his life on track and an open mind, as in helping him to realize that not all learning is about bad schooling as well as maybe, just maybe, things won't be as idyllic and perfect once he's on his own.

ST
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Thank you for your reply. I realize there's no real way to convince an 18-years-old mind if it's already been made up, but I'm hoping there's still some room for real doubt for him.

If he's really close to graduating, and you can afford it, have you considered bribery? Like promising him $100 if he graduates?

Yeah, it might not be the best idea, and then he wouldn't be graduating for the right reasons, but at least he'd be graduating.

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Wow! but for his age, he sound IDENTICAL to my step son. He's 14 and going into 7th grade next year. He moved in with us at the beginning of the school year last year after failing school twice while living with his dad. He did better with us. His lowest grade in the end was a 76%; still a "D" but not like the 29's he got under his father's pervue. Toward the end he lost motivation and got many zeros for homework and because he's very social, he likes going to school. All year he cheerfully went to school. He just didn't want to do the work he was given to do.

Even now I have a system that I put together for him in order to try to improve on his reading or at the very least prevent some academic apathy when he returns to school in August. He has to earn computer priviliges and Playstation 2 priviliges by reading a story once a week and answering questions on it. If he does it he earns 2 hours a day of both things until the next week. If he doesn't do it, he doesn't get priviliges. So far, he hasn't done any, but the summer has only just begun and him and his sister are going to camp next week while my partner and I go to Florida to see my mother and get some vacation in.

I'm hoping that at 14 he's still flexible to change, but like your nephew he has an aversion to anything academic. My fear is that he'll really struggle next year but I've told him that if he can get all "C's" and above in EVERYTHING in 7th grade that I'll buy him a PS 3. Your nephew is 18. Sometimes they have to do things on their own, suffer natural consequences in order to learn the lessons that they have to learn as hard as that might be to do. He might be a candidate for a GED path as well.
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If he's really close to graduating, and you can afford it, have you considered bribery? Like promising him $100 if he graduates?

Yeah, it might not be the best idea, and then he wouldn't be graduating for the right reasons, but at least he'd be graduating.


LOL! That's an ingenius idea, I think, but I don't think $100 would work for him. He would need a much bigger (and more expensive, in terms of dollars or commitment) *bribe* heh. I'm thinking of somehow bribing him with something related to a couple of his goals, such as looking for his first place to move into (an apartment, most likely a roommate situation, other). He's very independent-minded, if not yet fully capable.

Separately, I have never been able to get a clear picture from him how much time he has to go. I think at least 1-2 years, but I think he's been hiding academic problems from me, too.

Don't know.
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