By Michelle Grappo, EdM

One of the most common profiles we see in our practice is students who have struggled with falling behind in the last two-plus years. Why is that? There are a few possibilities…

Never found their social ‘tribe’

These are students who may be moved schools or, for whatever reason, never found their ‘people’ in middle school. As the pandemic hit and they entered high school, these students struggled further socially. Maybe the student fell in with a crowd of kids who would accept them but also had their own negative peer culture. Maybe the student is further isolated – retreating to online gaming or friends. I have one student who maintained a group of friends through athletics but never found a group of peers at school and was bullied when classes resumed in person. Today, these students may find that they don’t feel they fit in at school, dread going to school, have significant gaps in attendance, and may have even stopped going to school altogether.

Never received the right learning support(s)

Again, these students may have moved schools or, for whatever reason(s), have had learning needs that went undiagnosed or underserved. I am currently working with a number of students whose learning needs went under-identified and unserved during the course of the pandemic, or for various other reasons such as frequent changing of schools. Whatever the origin story, these students may find themselves behind not only in school but also in their foundational academic/ study skills. As with the social difficulty students, this cohort may have fallen behind, have gaps in attendance, and even have withdrawn from school altogether.

Unmet emotional needs

These students may have struggled with some or all of the above, and then struggled with anxiety and depression. They may have fallen behind in school, isolated, and retreated into an online world. Sometimes they have struggled with cannabis or other substance use.

What next?

As we enter a post-pandemic world, young people especially are trying to move on. And yet, many are finding they are having a hard time doing so. How do they move on when they literally don’t have the credits to graduate on time and hate their school? Or how do they move on when they dread the idea of going to school and being bullied? Are there solutions?

In our practice, we are helping families tease this apart and find options every day. It’s a careful process but solutions do abound! The first thing is to normalize that a lot of young people and their families are going through this. You are not alone!! Next, we assess the situation – how do we prioritize mental health, any gaps in learning, etc.? Then, we look at solutions. Are there boarding schools where students can find their “tribe,” access therapy, and receive learning support? Yes! Are there ways to catch up

on missing credits? Absolutely! There are many boarding school options for these students, even at this “late” stage, including summer. Increasingly we are partnering with schools to creatively support students in helping them not only adjust to adolescence and have a corrective school experience, but also provide opportunities for missing foundational skills and credit recovery.

If your child has fallen behind or has struggled the last couple of years, it may be time to consider professional support in evaluating other options for your child. For more information, contact us at [email protected].

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