A teen close to you, maybe even your beloved daughter, confides, “I’m pregnant.” The words swirl in your mind. You want to hug that girl reassuringly and protect her; you want to stomp and scream about the situation. The two words bring up a whole range of choices you feel less than equipped to help her make.
School has necessarily been her main life focus up to now, and education or lack of it will impact the rest of her life. What will happen to that education now? Do you know how teenage pregnancy affects education?
According to an article by the National Conference of State Legislatures , about thirty percent of all teen girls who drop out of school cite pregnancy and parenting as the main reason. The CDC says that pregnancy is the number one reason girls drop out of high school.
Reasons Pregnant Teens Leave High School
- Some teen moms need to work and can’t get enough work hours if they have to work around schoolwork.
- Some pregnant teens may just be embarrassed, especially if some students or staff aren’t supportive.
- Pregnancy and new motherhood can involve health problems. A difficult delivery may cause a longer hospital stay or make it harder to heal. Postpartum depression is really common in teen moms. A baby may have health issues that interfere with the new mom’s ability to concentrate at school.
- Some schools, unfortunately, have a host of safety problems. A pregnant teen may feel more vulnerable and may be scared to be in a high school setting.
- Daycare is a concern. Not all family members are supportive enough or have enough free time to watch the baby while its mom goes to school and does homework.
- A pregnant or parenting teen needs support more than ever and may not get that support at school. Support from friends, family members, teachers, and other significant adults is crucial to the teen’s success as a parent.
- Many pregnant teens just don’t know their options. Their school district or their state may provide several programs the young woman just doesn’t know about. A check with the guidance office may be in order here.
- Pregnancy and childbirth come with possible problems that may put a teen behind in school. She may just feel too overwhelmed, too far behind, to even try to finish.
For a teen mom-to-be, finishing school may seem like an unclimbable mountain, but teen moms have some options.
Staying in School
The teen’s school probably will allow her to continue to attend with no changes if she’d like to do that. For some young women this is the best choice, especially if she’s not breaking new ground at her school. A guidance counselor or the school social worker may be her best ally and a great resource.
If it’s too hard to face her whole school with a growing baby bump or a toddler on her hip, or if she thinks some people may make life difficult for her there, she needs to know that there are other ways for her to finish school.
Schools Especially for Teen Moms
Did you know some school districts operate schools designed especially for teenage mothers? These usually offer individualized programs, mentoring, and peer as well as staff support for their students.
Many of these schools, in addition to academic subjects, provide childbirth and childcare classes. A young mom who wants to stay in that school through graduation may be able to bring her baby or toddler to school with her and leave him or her in the school’s day care.
Any parent, any time, can choose to homeschool their child for any reason. If a pregnant teen’s parent has the time, commitment, and energy to do this, homeschooling can be a great bonding time as the family makes this transition together.
States have different laws governing homeschooling and different procedures for beginnning. Every state has at least one state organization. Check Google using the keywords “Homeschool organizations in (your state)”. Once you are in touch with a state organization, they can provide you with a name and phone number in your area along with a multitude of information.
Today there are so many colleges and other institutions offering accredited online
education for teens that a teen mom may have a hard time choosing one! This variant of homeschooling may be just the thing for a well-motivated teen who wants to finish school without attending a brick-and-mortar school.
If a pregnant or parenting teen would like to, or needs to, work to earn money while finishing school, online schools may provide a more flexible schedule than any other type of schooling. Some are costly, but often not too different from a lower-cost private school.
How old is this teen? If she’s sixteen or seventeen, she may want to be done with school and move on into adulthood as a single mom. If that’s the case, and her parents are willing, they can check out your state’s GED requirements. Free GED prep classes are available in most areas in the evenings. Taking one of these will assure her that she can pass the test.
Some people think of a GED as a “loser’s option”, but this idea is outdated. The test isn’t easy and is proof that anyone who passed it deserves a high school diploma. If a parenting teen wants to go to a traditional college, she’ll still have to take the SAT or ACT, but the GED will serve as a high school diploma.
If there’s a teen mom in your life, help her realize that finishing school is the best thing thing she can do for herself and for her baby. Finishing school will build her self confidence and that diploma will be endlessly useful in adult life. You can help her make the best educational choice for her situation, reassure her that she’s still a worthwhile person, and assist her in any number of practical ways that will give her the support she needs to keep on going.