How Social Workers Can Keep At-Risk Kids in School
- Little moments
- After-school Programs
- Incentivize Attendance
- SMART Goals
- Celebrate every achievement
Helping at-risk kids stay in school is challenging. They are more likely than most other youth to be held back or drop out of school altogether. Great people with social work degrees, however, can do a number of things that will help these students attend school and graduate. Here are 5 ways social workers can help at-risk kids stay in school:
1. Little Moments
Adults often forget the impact small moments can have on children’s lives. The moment where their parent sends them off to school, the moment they are bullied on the bus or the moment when they realized their favorite food was being served at lunch; all of these moments and many more have meaning to children. Talking to children and honing in on these moments can have a big impact. It’s a way for adults to demonstrate a genuine interest in at-risk children. Anyone with a social work degree understands just how important trust and understanding are when helping at-risk youth. Recognizing meaningful moments is an excellent tool for building them.
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2. After-school Programs
After-school programs have a number of advantages for at-risk youth. They give kids an incentive to get through the school day, provide opportunities to make friends and strengthen friendship and are a great resource for combating truancy. These programs are often at schools and will sometimes bus kids home. At-risk communities are also likely to have community centers with after-school programming. Many of these programs require children to attend school before participating. That creates one more reason for a child to stay in school. According to Youth.gov, these programs are proven to lower drop-out rates among students.
3. Incentivize Attendance
Having a social work degree does not make working with clients easy. Working with parents can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. Parents have great insight into who children like to visit and what they like to do. Setting school attendance or performance goals with the entire family, as well as creating incentives for achieving them, is yet another tool to keep kids attending class regularly.
4. SMART goals
Helping at-risk kids is not a simple task. SMART goals can make it easier. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based, and lays a framework for setting quality goals. Setting and achieving goals at school, like getting a specific grade or joining a varsity sports team, creates more reasons to keep attending.
5. Celebrate every achievement
Achievements are great. Celebrating achievements makes them wonderful. Celebrations can range from writing a card to having a party to going on a fun trip. Creating happy memories around school achievements further incentivizes any child to attend school, but celebrations are especially important when helping at-risk kids. They rarely participate in celebrations at home, so celebrations coordinated by a social worker can be especially meaningful.
These methods can change a child’s perspective on school altogether. Though difficult, helping a child develop a more positive outlook on school in general helps them to continue attending. These are not just ways to help keep a child in school, but to help them actually like it. Overall, these techniques can help with combating truancy and developing a healthier perspective towards school.