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Help your teen get the most out of school

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Discover your teen's strengths and passions

Many teenagers think they simply don't like school. While in actuality, they may have simply not found the areas that truly interest them or discovered their strengths yet. As parents, it's our job to initiate discussions and encourage activities that will help our children tap into their abilities, get the most out of school and find their direction in life.

"The more our teens understand themselves and understand their world, the greater number and quality of options they can create to find things in work and life that fit their talents, interests and passions. Engaging teens in discussions, activities and conversations about what they hear and learn at school, and how this connects to today’s world, is a strong way to create a home/school partnership," says life coach and motivational speaker Jay Forte of Live Fired Up.

Talk about school regularly

Have an ongoing dialogue with your teens about the topics that they are learning and have learned in school. Discuss which subjects and concepts came easy to them and gauge their interest in these particular areas. Talk about how the things that they like and the areas they excel in fit in today's world.

"If they love math, share how it connects to roles in business, science, engineering and education," explains Forte. "If they love personal connection, share how it connects to roles in psychology, education, retail, healthcare, etc."

Establish technology-free zones

Forte stresses the importance of establishing technology-free zones and times in your home. All technology is turned off to allow conversation and discussion to happen. The dinner table, car trips and certain weekend time should be declared technology-free. "In a technology-free zone, reminisce with your teens," says Forte. "Have them remember back to when they were 5 to 9 years old. This is a time when they had few inhibitions and generally spent their time doing what appealed to them — this is very valuable information."

Talk your teens about their childhood heroes and dreams. Ask what they liked most about their friends back then. Talk about their dreams, interests and ambitions today. Discuss what activities your teen would like to try if there was no risk of failing.

Coach them along

It's important that parents help their teens discover their abilities and strengths without directing them into the areas of interest that Mom and Dad may like the most. You must be willing to let your children march to their own drums in life.

"A critical role of today’s parents is that of a coach," says Forte. "Parents should think as a coach would think. That is, to start to notice the unique abilities in each teen. Great coaches see sparks of interest and aptitude that parents sometimes miss as they are more interested in having their teens follow their approach to life than to help the teen learn how to use his or her best abilities to develop their own approach."

Read: Is it your passion or your teen's? >>

SheKnows Parenting challenge: Turn off the tech >>

Be realistic with your expectations

Not every teen is a scholar or a world-class athlete. However, every single person can be great at what they do. Help your teen discover more about his abilities and interests while in high school to lay the foundation for a successful future. Encourage him to dig deep into the areas that interest him, both in and out of school. By opening his eyes and mind to the things that he can do, you'll help your teen start on the road to greatness.

Jay Forte, a former CPA, financial executive and corporate educator, is now a business and motivational speaker, workplace and life coach, and author of two books. Jay provides practical tools to help people know themselves, find their fit and transform their worlds.

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