Programs That Can Help Troubled Teens

The year of 1985, in the state of Louisiana, marked the introduction of juvenile boot camps as short-term, cost-reducing, court-ordered alternatives to correctional facilities for troubled youth. (National Institute of Justice, n.d.) However, this quick-fix soon met its faults of over emphasizing problem behavior, lacking family involvement, leading to re-entry into the correction system, and causing recent tragic events. Thus, the intense, military-style boot camp for teenagers is losing its appeal to safer, longer term, more holistic alternative programs to help troubled teens.

Residential Treatment Program

One of the alternative programs for troubled youth is a residential treatment program that provides adolescents with therapy and continuous supervision. The New Foundation in Arizona is a great example of this program that offers therapeutic behavioral health programs and education to youth with mental and behavioral disturbances including depression, oppositional-defiant behavior, substance abuse and addiction, and learning disabilities. Although this program has existed since the 1970s, it established its first 30-day Residential Intensive Substance Use for youth ages 11 to 17 in 2008, providing support to both adolescents and their families. Application details are available on their website

Wilderness Therapy

Other troubled youth programs include wilderness therapy, where survival in the wildlife provides youth with profound life lessons. One such program is Wood Creek Academy in the rural mountains of Western Montana. It targets troubled boys and girls with “dual diagnoses” from ages 13 to 17. A holistic approach is used to emphasize understanding the whole person over changing problem behaviors. Lasting 30-45 days, wilderness therapy provides long-lasting results by fostering “cooperation” over “confrontation”. The basic concept is that nature has a healing quality as it creates a “responsive rather than resistant environment” for youth to build on their strengths, learn independent living skills, and practice more effective alternative behaviors.

Therapeutic Boarding School

Therapeutic boarding schools provide emotionally and behaviorally disturbed youth with therapy and education in a private out-of-home placement. Crosswinds of Indiana offers a Christian therapeutic boarding school called Caribbean Mountain Academy with programs spanning from a semester to 18 months for youth ages 13 to 18. A unique feature of this program is the school’s location in the Dominican Republic that encourages freedom from material value. In addition to therapeutic activities, this program involves an academic curriculum, spiritual guidance, leadership training, relationship building, family communication skills training, and service building.

The main concept to take away is that the most effective troubled teen programs possess holistic, life-changing, strength-based, and family-based qualities.


Choose a Good High School for Your Child

 Good High School A good school allows the child to not just excel academically, but also motivates him/her to explore other interests. This leads to the all-round development of the child which enables him/her to succeed in life. With top colleges in the country receiving a record numbers of applications each year and with the eligibility criteria ramped up, it is important for parents to choose a high school that ensures quality education that opens avenues for further academic and personal growth of the child.

Instead of choosing a neighborhood school or one of repute, select a high school that allows a child to grow intellectually and personally. It is not important to find the best school in the world, but rather find one that will support and enhance your child’s interests and passion. In this Buzzle article, we provide some simple tips on how to choose a good high school for your child that will help him or her excel in life.

Shortlisting a High School: Things to Consider

Public School Vs. Private School

The age-old debate about public and private schools leaves many parents confused. Is it better to opt for a local public school or choose an exclusive private school with a hefty tuition fee? Public schools administered by local, state, or national governments offer free education. They are often criticized for a high pupil-teacher ratio and bureaucratic style of functioning. However, these schools do have their own set of advantages like a diverse student population, qualified teachers, and provision of programs for children with special needs.

Private schools, also known as independent schools, are funded in whole by students’ tuition fees. Although these schools charge quite a hefty amount, they do have the advantage of smaller classes, less bureaucracy, and more parent involvement. This does not mean that just because you pay more at a private school, the education is better. A good public school may be a better match for your child. You need to look beneath the label of ‘public’ or ‘private’ to choose a school that is a right for your kid. Apart from public and private schools, there are charter schools, religious schools, and special performing arts schools.

Academic Record and Reputation of the School

This is probably the first thing that parents consider while choosing a school for their child. All parents want their child to excel academically. Therefore, academic performance of the school and its overall reputation is one of the major deciding factors when choosing a high school. If the students of a school consistently perform well in tests and examinations, it is a good indicator of the academic quality of the school. You can check how students at a school perform as compared to others, using statistics provided by The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the State Department of Education.

Check the Number of Students

The student-teacher ratio in a class and the overall number of students in a school is extremely important. One of the reasons why many parents prefer a private school is because of the small class sizes. A ratio of fifteen children per teacher ensures that the child gets adequate personal attention. However, it is important to consider that there is no set ratio for every student. While some students do well in a smaller environment with personal attention, others thrive in larger schools with a wide variety of classes and activities.

Consider a School with Good Teachers

The importance of good teachers cannot be overstated. The high school curriculum is structured around core academics. This is vital as it forms the basis of future college education. Apart from wide array of subjects like physics and calculus, high school students begin to study foreign languages. They also have greater flexibility with electives such as art. Considering the diverse topics and subjects being taught, it is imperative that the teachers be experts of the subjects that they teach.

Along with appropriate educational qualification, teachers should also possess necessary license and certification for teaching that is provided by an accredited teacher’s training program such as National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). If the school offers special courses, then there should be specialist staff such as music or art teachers who have the necessary training and skill to teach the subject.

Check the Available Courses

If the child is interested in a special subject, you need to look for schools that offer that course. Ideally, a good high school should have a balanced, comprehensive curriculum. In addition to this, there are many schools that also offer specialized classes like astronomy, music, and computing. You also need to consider additional facilities at the school, like libraries or sports facilities.

Check the Extracurricular Activities on Offer

Extracurricular activities and events promote socialization, raise self-esteem, and allow the child to explore his/her varied interests. Choose a school that offers a broad range of activities that complement and are an extension of the academic program. Performing arts, competitive sports, and other after-school activities help in the development of leadership and additional skills in children.

Look for Maintenance and Hygiene

There are many schools that offer tours and host open-house events. Although you might not get to spend time in a class, you can verify if the school maintains cleanliness, hygiene, and offers a good environment. It is also important to consider the area around the school, and ensure that it is safe for the child. Check the playground equipment to see if it is safe and well-maintained.

Consider the Distance

It is important to consider the distance of the school from home. Can the child go to school without being parent-driven? Is it easy to go for after-school activities? A school which is excellent but is too far away from home can be frustrating for parents as well as children who have to spend a lot of time traveling.

Involve the Child

It is vital to consider a teenager’s needs when choosing a high school for him or her. Involve the child actively in the selection process. Ask him/her about his/her interests and goals so that you can choose a school that is aligned with these interests and goals. Some teens would want to go to the same school as their friends. As a parent, you need to consider these things as well.

Shortlisting a High School: What to Do

➾ Consider all possibilities when choosing the high school.
➾ Research school websites and blogs.
➾ Visit the school to know more about the school’s environment and authorities.
➾ Ask the right questions about the school, the teachers, and the assignments workload.
➾ Consider the administration’s attitude towards parents. If it seems inappropriate, then it will definitely not improve once the child is enrolled in the school
➾ Know when and how to enroll your child.
➾ Always have a backup plan in case the child does not get admission in his/her preferred school.
➾ Watch your child’s reaction to the school, and trust your instincts.

The four years of high school are extremely important for a child. Make a list of all the high schools, and then narrow down the options based on the good and not-so-good elements of the school. Contact all the favored schools, and preferably visit them. Choose the right school by asking the right questions and researching well. Consider all your options and make an informed decision.

Career Tests for High School Students

High school students are at a stage in their lives when they have to decide upon a career path. For most, it is a time riddled with confusion with so many career options to choose from. The need to take into account several factors can make the process of choosing a career a daunting task. At this juncture, taking a career test is seen to help. In fact, this is the ideal time for students to take a career test because it helps them gain a direction about the kind of career to take up. These tests are specially designed to evaluate the intelligence, aptitudes, interests, inclinations, and personality of a student.

In the following sections of this article, we will help you understand why these tests are important, and give you examples of some of the tests commonly used for this purpose.

What the Tests Include

Career tests are specially designed to understand the level of intelligence, the kind of personality, varied interests, and aptitudes of a student; which when combined with an interview by a career counselor help a student to shortlist those careers that seem to be the most suitable in terms of strengths and weaknesses, preferred lifestyle, social environment, growth in a career, the consequent possibility of success, and thereby happiness in life.

Career tests help identify the varied factors mentioned above. This becomes important because different jobs require different levels of intelligence. Some courses require higher levels of intelligence as compared to others. Similarly, certain jobs are better suited for certain personality types. For example, an outgoing person will fare better in an event planning job which requires one to be open and outgoing. A career test will help identify the same.

As far as interests are concerned, sometimes there are hidden or latent interests which are revealed only through a test. Along with that, there are different capacities that a person possesses which are evaluated by an aptitude test — these capacities include mechanical aptitude, numerical aptitude, spatial aptitude, verbal aptitude, clerical aptitude, kinesthetic aptitude, aptitude for music, sports and so on. When a person has an aptitude in a particular area, the person benefits most when training is imparted, therefore, it becomes important for a student to take a career test because it will throw light on his strong areas and help him choose a direction to take.

Interpretation of the Tests and After

Once the tests are administered, their interpretation becomes important. However, training is required for scoring and interpretation. Hence it is necessary to answer these tests with a professional career counselor. Generally, these scores are combined with an in-depth interview to understand the other crucial aspects required for making the right career choices. At the end of such a session, the student is able to shortlist 3-5 career choices which are placed in a ranking order, and he can thus start planning how to go about preparing for the same. Accordingly, a student can then choose certain courses for studying, or prepare for answering a competitive entrance exam.

The counselor is also able to provide additional information regarding these courses, like the institutions in which they are conducted, the fee structure, duration of the course, as well as details of an exam such as whether they are conducted annually or bi-annually, around which month, mode of payment and so on.

A career test, therefore, provides helpful guidelines for a high school student for whom it may not be possible to make objective assessments about oneself. In fact, many times it is not possible for parents to objectively assess their children either. For one, they do not have updated information about careers (new careers are added everyday. For example, cyber law or environmental science are fairly new additions to the career market), and two, they might let their personal choices influence their decision. That is where career tests help because they are scientifically designed and therefore provide reliable and valid information. They are standardized tools of measurement.

The Advent of Computers

With the advances in technology, most of these tests have been converted into computer tests. This works out effectively and efficiently — both in terms of administering the tests and evaluating them.

In interactive computer systems, the individual is in direct contact with the computer by means of response stations — in effect, the individual engages in a dialog with the computer. This technique has been studied with regard to the educational aspects, career planning, and decision-making. In this, test scores are usually incorporated in the computer database along with the other information provided by the student or client. Essentially, the computer combines all the available information about the individual and the stored data on educational programs and occupations, and utilizes all the relevant facts in answering the individual’s questions, thereby aiding him/her in reaching decisions. An example of such interactive computer systems is the System for Interactive Guidance Information (SIGI). In use for over a decade in colleges and universities, this system was subsequently updated and revised to serve not only students, but also adults preparing to re-enter the job market, or those considering career changes or career advancements.

Types of Career Tests

The following are the different types of career tests that are in use, with examples of the same.

Intelligence Tests

Wechsler Intelligence Scales
Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices (RPM)

Aptitude Tests

Multidimensional Aptitude Battery-II
Differential Aptitude Test Battery

Personality Tests

16PF Questionnaire
R.B. Cattell and Cattell

Interest Tests

Vocational Interest Record
Educational Interest Record

This article emphasizes the importance of why career tests are an essential tool in today’s society. However, hard work and consistent efforts are equally important in order to reach great heights in one’s career.

Activities to Increase Vocabulary for High School Students

Vocabulary is important for high school students, rather any grade student due to its direct connection to reading and writing. Vocabulary is helpful for students who are preparing for future competitive exams. Gone are the days when teachers would write down a set of five words on the board and ask you to jot them down in your notebook seven times. This method was used to grill these words in your head, but honestly you would forget about the words and their meanings the next day itself.

Copying the word’s meaning directly from a dictionary would definitely do us no good. Studies have inferred that students need multiple exposure to that word, before they can understand and apply it further. Relying on a list of weekly vocabulary would not help students with adequate word knowledge despite their best efforts. So to increase vocabulary in high school students, there are many fun and creative activities mentioned in this article. But keep in mind that different students learn words differently. So while one activity may be suitable for some kid, other methods would work for another kid.

Vocabulary Games For High School Students
Distribute blank bingo sheets of five boxes across and five boxes down to every student. Let them fill these boxes with their choice of vocabulary words. Once they are done, pick out a word randomly from a bowl and define the word in front of the class. Students are allowed to use a marker on the related word square. If a student gets five words in a row, he has to call out ‘Bingo’. In addition he also needs to name the words to ascertain that he/she has correctly identified them.
Vocabulary Toss
For this activity you require a wastebasket, a sponge, and a chalkboard eraser. Next split your class into two teams and make them stand in two lines, parallel to each other. This game integrates basketball shooting game with a vocabulary guessing game. Now let the player in the front of one team define a vocabulary word. If he is correct, his team will earn a point. They have a second chance of earning another point, if he throws the eraser into the basket. However, if his answer is incorrect the player on the other team can answer it and shoot into the basket. Continue the game until everybody gets a chance to define a word. The team with maximum points wins the game.
Vocabulary Basketball
This game can be played in the classroom itself. For this game, you need a small wastebasket or any container and a small blackboard. You can use a piece of masking tape to create a foul shot line on the floor. Divide the class into teams of two, make sure everybody gets a chance to shoot the hoops. When any team sends its member to the foul shot line, give them a definition for any vocabulary word. If he/she answers it correctly, her/his team earns a point. They earn an extra point if he/she makes a subsequent shot. They play until all the words are used.
Vocabulary Baseball
Split your class into two teams. Draw a baseball diamond on the blackboard, both the team get three outs each inning and a player from each team goes at a time. The teacher has to say the word, and every student needs to define the word within 20 seconds. If he/she can answer it in five seconds, their team scores a home run, within ten seconds it’s a triple, within fifteen seconds it’s a double and just before time out it’s a single. However, if he/she is unable to answer the question or get the definition wrong, they are out. The team with the maximum runs at the end of nine innings wins the game.
Vocabulary Relay
This vocabulary building activity is suitable for students who struggle to remember science vocabulary. This game will help to test a student’s knowledge of paraphrasing definitions. Divide the class into two teams, let the students form two lines in front of the chalkboard. One line should be on the left side of the board and one team on the right side of the board. Next, choose an even number of vocabulary words and jot down first half of the word on one side of the board and the rest on the other side. Decide which team will go first. Once the member reaches the board, let him read the word aloud and give you the definition in his own words. If he/she can define it, have him/her erase the word. If not let the next student in the line try the word. Alternate between the two teams, until all the words are answered. The team which clears their side of the board first is the winner.
Drawing Activities
Also known as pictionary, it is a fun game to be played and is really helpful for maths and science. This game also motivates students to be creative and helps them to work as a team. Separate the class into two teams. Let one representative from one team select a word. Now he has to draw something related to the word on the board. He needs to draw the word in action, so that his team can guess what the word is. If his team members can answer the word and define it, they earn a point, if not, members from the other team can steal the point. This activity enables the students to learn more about the practical application of vocabulary.
Guess The Word
Pretty simple to play yet can get complicated sometimes. Nevertheless it is a major hit amongst many students. Let one student sit in front of the classroom facing away from the blackboard. The teacher has to write down the word on the blackboard, but the student facing other students is not allowed to look at it. The student has a list of ten questions, which he needs to ask his fellow students to determine what that word is. They are supposed to give answers only in yes or no form.
Selecting Words
While a particular word may be difficult for one student, it may not be the same for others. Making long lists of words and teaching these words in one class can be a tiring experience. Let the students go through every chapter, and ask them to remove words which they feel they don’t understand. Once they are done collect all the lists and go through it. The process of explaining the words can then begin.
Ranking Words
It is difficult to narrow down on words which are supposed to be taught. Divide the vocabulary words into three tiers. Tier one consists words that are basic and which don’t require much focus (door, books, house). Tier two comprises words that are used often, appear in a higher frequency, and are applicable in many fields (reluctant, analysis). Tier three has words that are used in less frequency and are limited to specific field of study (Buddhism, isotope). Once you shortlist the words, go ahead and teach those words which you and your students feel are related to the subject.

By implementing vocabulary building activities in high school, teachers and students both can enjoy a pleasurable learning experience. Just like engaging in new activities will improve your vocabulary, so will interacting with people. You may learn and pick up words which they use, this will thus aid in increasing your vocabulary.

Leadership Activities for High School Students

The school is a place where a child can learn much more than the structured courses included in the curriculum, provided the right training is given. There are many leadership ideas for high school students which can help develop their confidence and make them assertive. As self-awareness is the key to development, leadership activities help in self assessment and personality development. Developing these skills in children from the high school days is very important.

Various leadership activities for students can inculcate personal assessment, and help develop potential leadership skills along with a sense of responsibility and identifying their leadership style.

Defining the term leadership is a difficult thing to do. However, it could be described as the process by which one influences people in order to get them enlisted in an activity for achieving a particular objective.
The participants for this activity could be from a minimum of 4 to 20 at the most. It takes around 1 hour to complete this activity. The objective of conducting this leadership activity is to help the participants identify their development needs and work towards the path of personal development. The activity is started with a group discussion on self assessment followed by a questionnaire to be completed by the participants. The questions included in the questionnaire could be such that they test a person’s behavior. One can prepare his own list of questions for the test (for example, which thing holds more importance to you, self-esteem or power). The questions may or may not be provided with multiple-choice options. The participants should be asked to work in pairs and carry out the assessment of their peers. This leadership activity enables the participants to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is necessary for a leader to understand his strengths and weaknesses before thinking about leading a group or a team. The ‘Learning to Lead’ activity thus, proves to be the first step in the development of leadership in students.
The students are divided into groups of three in this activity. Objective of the activity is to enable the students to share their experiences and build rapport. A list of situations is provided to the students and they have to think of an experience similar to these situations. Here is a list of some of the situations provided to the participants:

Something that generated a great deal of excitement.
A pleasant surprise.
A creative twist on a situation or issue.
An ‘Aha’ moment.
A clever improvisation.
A really tough situation.
A breakthrough insight or solution.
A conflict resolved.
An emotional situation.
A blindside experience.

Learn from The Apprentice
In this activity, the students are divided in teams and the same activity is assigned to each of these groups. The activities should be such that the success could be measurable. Selling a product like lemonade, car wash, etc., could be assigned to the groups. Once the tasks assigned to the teams are over, the successes and failures of these teams are discussed. The team leader thus, understands the right as well as wrong moves made by his team. Such assessments help the teams improve their performance during the next round of activities. To make the activity interesting, the best team leader could be chosen.

Body Language Identification
In this activity, students are provided with a list of commonly observed behavior in people. On the basis of this information, students have to interpret the expression conveyed by means of the behavior. Here is the list of commonly observed behavior.

A person rolls his eyes after saying or hearing something.
A person plays with the change in his pocket while communicating.
A person refuses to make eye contact while he is speaking.
A person stands with folded arms while speaking.
A person talks to others while invading their personal space.
A person squirms or rocks while he is speaking.
A person whispers to another person while in a group setting.
A person turns his back on someone as the other person is entering the group.
A person looks towards the ground or slumps his shoulders while speaking.
A person shakes his fist or points finger at another person.

It is important to actively participate in leadership activities in order to realize one’s potential towards becoming a good leader.