Ask the Expert: How Can I Help My Child Stay Connected to School and Community?
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What are some initial signs that a child is on his/her way to youth disconnectedness?
Some of the signs are failing in classes, low grades, showing behavioral problems in school. With that, it’s when parents find that their child is trying to spend a lot of time alone in their space instead of spending time with the family. Once parents see this happening, it’s a great opportunity to have a conversation with the child and find out what’s going on with them. Another sign is seeing the child engaging with the wrong crowd, spending too much time on the Internet, and poor school attendance rate. There is also the aspect of them having low self-esteem and the inability to self-motivate.
How can community service help kids stay connected, and how can parents get their kids involved in the community?
I think that there are various resources that parents can use to get information. They should begin web browsing, talk to school administrators, and reach out to local organizations like the YMCA. There are also great websites to find community service activities. I think community service helps children by developing character—it matures them. They see the importance of helping out, it keeps them abreast of community needs, and it can be used to put on resumes. It gives them experience in volunteering and also provides them with a bigger picture of what the real world consists of. It also gives them a greater insight and awareness to others and develops compassion for others.
Tiffeny Forrest is the executive director of the Harlem YMCA, which serves 3,600 youth each year through its programs. A Michigan native, Forrest holds a BS in psychology and an MBA from Louisiana’s Grambling State University.