In an ongoing series in this column, we highlight one of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets that have a powerful positive impact on young people’s growth. These 40 assets comprise qualities, experiences, and relationships that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Asset #24 is Bonding to School.

It’s hard to believe the school year is one-quarter done. It’s even harder to believe that some kids have already dropped out of school — at least figuratively speaking. Some kids do, indeed, choose not to attend school but many more are simply disinterested, don’t care about school or feel unconnected at school. These kids are at higher risk of alcohol or drug use or engaging in other risky behaviors. Kids who feel connected to their school are significantly less likely to make bad choices and put themselves at risk.

Research shows kids who like school have friends and family that are proud of what they do in school. They have people at school who enjoy seeing them every day and miss them when they are absent. These kids feel cared for and they, in turn, care for their school and enjoy learning. Help your child identify caring adults, as well as supportive friends they can rely on in school. Consider volunteering at a school where you can forge bonds with students and show them that school can be a supportive and wonderful place.

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Tizzie Mantione