Pregant Teenage Parents: Alternative Programs

Pregnant or teenage parents who are not finished with school are starting alternative programs which better fit their lifestyle. What are these programs? Find out!

Imagine a school where your toughest classes consist of Parenting and Nutrition. Is this a Home Economics teacher's fantasy? No, it's a reality in the lives of some pregnant and/or parenting teenagers. Students, both male and female, who are dealing with issues such as combining school and parenting now have another place to turn. Many school districts are now offering separate alternative programs in which the curriculum is set to meet the needs of parenting adolescents more so then that of a standard school. The result? The teens are less likely to drop out of school because it's easier to balance the hefty load they're carrying.

Alternative programs for school-age parents usually taper most everything, from classes to the schedule itself, in order to fit the challenging needs of these teens. For instance, a great percentage of the schools only attend class three days per week. This allows the students more family time. A later class time allows the teenager time to get up and get both themselves and a baby ready to go in the morning. A lot of teens attending a standard public school find it difficult to attend classes first thing in the morning after being up with a baby all night long. This forces them to be less dutiful about going to school because they cannot equally divide their time between their baby and their lessons. Sadly, they become less attentive in school and eventually end up losing interest in it at all. This creates a barrier in between their goals and their reality that is often a hard one to overcome. For this reason, Alternative programs are making their existence better known.

The curriculum in one of these programs usually brings together the traditional classes like reading, writing, and arithmetic with life skills classes such as nutrition. During pregnancy the students could learn about the changes that are going on in their body, how to take care of themselves during this time, and even take childbirth education classes that are free of charge. Once the child is born, parenting classes take the place of the pregnancy curriculum and the teens learn about their amazing newborn. The skills acquired during these classes are immense and appreciated.

As well as gaining the credits needed in order to graduate, the schools often give their students a chance to gain more work skills. Computers are commonly available either on location or in cooperation with a local library. Clerical skills can be gained through offered courses as well as many others that increase the chances of employability. School-to-Work programs are also on hand more often then not either through the program itself or through the students home school district. Constructing dual role skills in the teenager early on helps them to cope with reality later on in life.

Most often, childcare is provided at the facility for no or little cost to the parent. The baby is typically taken into a nursery with qualified care providers during learning times and then comes out in between to spend time with the mother or father. Having the care on hand creates uninterrupted class time and children who are having constant stimulation rather then having their needs momentarily set aside. During lunch time, their parents are in charge of getting them out of the nursery, feeding them, and making sure they're ready to go back into the care of the nursery worker.

Rather then having an ordinary school lunch served to them, the students are often put in charge of what they eat. Daily menus are created in a class such as Nutrition and are implemented throughout the semester. The teenagers get credit for doing their kitchen work and it goes toward their final grade. The meal provides more nutritional value then an average school lunch, as it has to follow certain guidelines. The food pyramid is used when deciding what to eat, and rarely to never do the meals go unbalanced.

Another advantage of attending an alternative program is that the students are in touch with many services such as counseling. An on-site health nurse is often available to keep the babies as healthy as possible. Accessibility to other services, such as WIC and financial help, is more easily obtainable through the schools. If a student is in need of housing or clothing, the schools have contacts that can set them up with this kind of help. Family planning is talked about and offered, too.

Many of the students whom I've known that have attended these programs have been thankful that they were available. They recognized the programs for the fact that they made it through school with little trouble. The statistic show that only 7 in 10 teenage mothers finish high school, and are less likely to go on to college then their peers. It's respectable to finally see young parents taking a stand on things and saying "I can!" instead of letting that generalization become who they are!

© High Speed Ventures 2011