Skip directly to content

teen health

Getting Teens to Talk

on Mon, 08/12/2013 - 6:21pm

Have you ever asked, "How was your day?", and received the response, “Good.”? If you’re like most parents, when you ask your child a question, you receive the same one word answer, and the conversation is over.  Asking open ended questions is one way to learn about your child’s day, it gets your child to use more than one-word answers, and encourages them to think.

When children are young, they are very curious, and don’t care that you know what they don’t know.  They ask questions all of the time and, in many instances, they talk all of the time!  But somewhere around 6th, 7th or 8th grade, that changes.  The questions decrease, and the answers to adult questions shrink.  More one-word answers are given, and often as an adult you may feel like it’s a bother for them to talk.

In a classroom, as well as at home, open-ended questions encourage creative thinking, problem-solving, written expression and communication skills. Some open-ended questions and question starters are:

  1. What do you think about…?

  2. What did you like most about the movie?

  3. What else can you do?

  4. What if we…?

  5. What made you happy today? or,

  6. If you could be principal, what would you do?

Begin asking open-ended questions about your child’s future. Even if they don’t answer, they may begin to think about it.  Of course, there is the all too familiar question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Often, followed by the same response, “I don’t know.”   However, if you start with a conversation about an interesting career or even talking about your work-day and your career, your child may talk more.

Teachers are typically very good at asking open-ended questions. However, many complain that students don’t know how to answer them, or to fully express a thought or describe a concept. Good questioning skills may be difficult to learn. But, if you ask the right questions in the right way, you can help your child express ideas they may not realize they have.

Helping children learn how to express themselves in words, is very beneficial at home and in school, and can begin with a simple statement, Tell me about your day, instead of a question, How was school today? The earlier they begin talking about their future, the better.  As children get older, it’s important to keep them talking. 

Solving the Dropout Crisis: Jean Hudley

Boys2Men Home & Sanctuary for Youth founder, Jean Hudley has a passion for helping youth based on her own experience of being a dropout herself.  Among other things, her program helps young men obtain a GED and with family counceling.  Previously, Jean worked in the Fulton County Juvenile Court as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Child Abuse Victims. She recently spoke at the American Graduate Community Forum in Atlanta. Jean says that we don't always know what's going on at the child's home and when the child is not at school.

Solving the Dropout Crisis: Marcia Jackson

Atlanta Public Schools Language Arts Teacher, Marcia Jackson, has over 15 years of teaching experience. She also has a degree in Journalism. Marcia recently spoke at the American Graduate Community Forum in Atlanta. Marcia says that our area parents don't have the resources to send their kids to school ready to learn.  Students need to come to school well nourished.  They need to be able to show respect.  She says that the graduation coach is helping kids from falling through the cracks and that needs to continue.  Also, school psychologists are needed at every school, everyday.

Inspiring Teens with a Sense of Purpose

on Mon, 06/24/2013 - 2:55pm

A few days ago, my daughter and I flew to Las Vegas to attend my niece's wedding.    While approaching Las Vegas, we flew over the magnificent Grand Canyon.  If you have ever flown over this wonder, I am sure you've experienced the awe I do each time I see it.  However, during this experience, I had a thought, or should we say a correlation.   To say it another way, something came to me, as never before.  

Sure, many people have seen the Grand Canyon from the air, as well as up close and personal.  Sure, others have acclaimed the majesty of God because of this work of wonder.  However, yesterday, when we flew over the Grand Canyon, I noticed the width and girth of it, but also the correlation between this wonder and the wonder of the possibility we had for our children who fall between the cracks every day.  Stay with me for a moment.

When a child is born, typically the parents consider the possibilities of what their child's life can be.  They think about how they can fashion their child's life to make sure that he or she reaches the full potential that was birthed in them.   Unfortunately, after a period of time, we forget about those possibilities.  Life happens, and we go with the present and not the majesty of what we saw when the child was born.  

The Grand Canyon was formed for a reason, and positioned to fulfill a purpose.  People observe and talk about the joy that it brings to see this structure.  They pay tribute to its greatness.  They pledge funds to help take care of its upkeep.  They write about it.  Take pictures of it.  They host special events in its honor.  Well think about the Grand Canyon as if it was a child; a student.

I believe children are formed for a reason.  They are positioned in life for a purpose.  They have a great wealth of potential and possibility from day one, and they bring joy to many people.  However, for far too many, something happens.  As children get older; people stop telling them how great they are; how much potential they have; and the girth of the possibilities their lives hold.  Tribute is not paid when they bring home good reports, or go a period of time without a bad report.  People stop writing about how every child can learn, be successful, and achieve greatness in their own right.  Pictures become few and far between, and unless they are among the brightness of the bright, we stop pledging funds to help them succeed.  

Although it is important to teach students to inspire, motivate, and validate themselves, all do not have this ability.  Our goal is to graduate as close to 100 percent of all students who begin kindergarten as possible.  However, as I have mentioned before, they often need more than curriculum instruction.  They need to be told how great they are.  They need to be reminded of their potential.  They need help in setting and reaching goals.  It is up to us, as parents, teachers, mentors, and important people in students' lives to provide the guidance and assistance they need.  Let's not talk about how bad the school systems are, or how sad it is because so many children are failing or dropping out of school, if we are not willing to do something to help change it.

From the desk of Dr. Lori

Solving the Dropout Crisis: Liz Lieberman

Liz Lieberman is a career coach and founder of Talk About Your Future, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on helping teens get on a meaningful career path. She recently spoke at the American Graduate Community Forum in Atlanta. Liz says we should help kids follow their dreams. She thinks we must deal with anger issues by helping teens develop a strategy for communitcating.  Liz feels strongly that we should focus more on learning and less on testing. She says that what's most important is not how teens treat adults, it's how they treat each other that really counts. If students had each other's back, there would be far fewer students dropping out of school.

Coach Speaks: Do More

on Mon, 06/17/2013 - 2:32pm


Do more than exist. Live.

Do more than hear. Listen.

Do more than agree. Cooperate.

Do more than talk. Communicate.

Do more than grow. Bloom.

Do more than spend. Invest.

Do more than think. Create.

Do more than work. Excel.

Do more than share. Give.

Do more than decide. Discern.

Do more than consider. Commit.

Do more than forgive. Forget.

Do more than help. Serve.

Do more than coexist. Reconcile.

Do more than sing. Worship.

Do more than think. Plan.

Do more than dream. Do.

Do more than see. Perceive.

Do more than read. Apply.

Do more than receive. Reciprocate.

Do more than choose. Focus.



Coach Speaks

Teens, Physical Health, and School

In February and March of 2013, Talk About Your Future, Inc. partnered with PBA to provide and record a series of health talks for 30 students at the Rosel Fann Recreation Center Teen Club in Southeast Atlanta. 

Healthy Habits: Getting Proper Nutrition

Public Broadcasting Atlanta has partnered with Talk About Your Future, Inc. to provide a series of health presentations aimed at keeping middle school students from developing bad habits that might lead to dropping out of school. This project is supported in part by a grant from the Rita Allen Foundation. This is the third talk in the series and is about nutrition.

American Graduate Community Forum

On March 28, 2013, Public Broadcasting Atlanta (PBA) in collaboration with the American Graduate:  Let's Make it Happen initiative hosted a panel of experts and advocates to speak to parents and concerned citizens about the growing high school dropout crisis in Atlanta.  The panel provided essential information and community resources to help parents/guardians keep their children on track to graduation.  The event was held at D.M. Therrell High School in Atlanta.