Brett wasn’t doing well with school. Some days, he just didn’t want to go...so he didn’t. Then it became easier not to go. He thinks he was too proud to ask for help. And he felt ashamed because he couldn’t do all the work. So he just quit going. He just hung out with his cousin and his friends. They were selling drugs. So Brett started to as well. Now he's in jail, able to get his GED, but wishes he'd asked for help, as things might have been different for him.
1. Why might it seem easier to quit school than to ask for help?
2. Brett thinks that "things might have been different". What might have been different if he'd gotten help and stayed in school?
3. Who do you ask for help from in school? How do you feel when you ask for help?
Cutting school on a regular basis can lead to dropping out all together. Dropouts are far more likely to be unemployed, imprisoned, and living in poverty.
When 500 dropout students were interviewed, they gave their reasons for leaving: 47% said class was not interesting, 43% missed too many days to catch up, 45% entered high school poorly prepared by earlier schooling, 69% said they weren't motivated to work hard, and 25% said they left to become parents. Two thirds said they would have tried harder if more was expected of them.
US Census data tells us the average income of different education levels. Those with Bachelor's degrees earn $51,554; high school diplomas earn $28,645; and high school dropout earns $19,169.
Emphasize reading. This doesn't have to be the traditional way through books. You can use magazines, online articles, road signs and billboards as you're driving, emails, write each other letters once a month, create a jeapordy game. Words are everywhere. Simply use whatever topic is interesting to your mentee and find something for them to read about it.
Make education come alive. Are they learning about Native Americans? Visit the Santa Barbara Mission, the 3rd mission located in the land of the Chumash. How about rocks and minerals? Go to the library and check out a rock and mineral guide and carry it with you on a walk around campus, the neighborhood, the beach. Learning about the first settlers in America? See if you can figure out how to talk like they did and read together trying only to use that accent. Or ask them what they think it would have been like to live during that time. Have them draw a picture of what their house looks like today and what it might have looked like then. Learning about synonyms? Play a game with words like "pretty" and "nice" by writing down as many as you can think of on scratch paper and use them like flash cards with your mentee. Flip one over and ask if it's a synonym or antonym. For more suggestions, talk with your case manager!
Help them develop their curiousities. What do they want to know more about in life? In the future? It's okay if they only want to know about a sport or about being an actor. Help them see what it would really be like. Random fact, but did you know that retired professional football players tend to have more physical and emotional difficulties than any other retired pro athletes? Find a sample athlete contract online and see if they can read it. Explain how important it would be to know what the contract says.
Help them take a quiz. A career quiz, that is. Registration is required, but you can find one here.
Ask them if they didn't have to be in school, but all their friends were in school and their parents at work, what they would do every day.