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Keep Calm and Win Scholarships

A strong scholarship essay could be your golden ticket to debt-free education!

Samara Zoetmulder - March 2014 - FutureSkills High School

Debt free education is attainable by exploring the wealth of scholarships available on websites such as Recognizing your strengths, selecting applications suited to your abilities, and communicating your eligibility with confidence and clarity are key steps towards obtaining this often unexplored source of income. While some scholarships accept more creative submissions, many require a formal written essay.

Consider the following tips to ensure that your scholarship essay receives the attention it deserves:

  • Brainstorm: List organizations you have volunteer/worked for, alongside the diverse achievements, responsibilities, and skills gained from each. Focus on areas of leadership and innovation.
  • Read Carefully: Read the essay question before, during, and after writing to ensure focused and relevant communication.
  • Formal Essay Structure: Answer the essay question with a direct statement. Follow with 2-3 supporting points. Prove each with anecdotes/examples. Highlight key ideas in connection with future goals.
  • Name Drop: Utilizing correct titles of organizations, positions, supervisors, etc. shows professionalism and legitimacy.
  • Consider Your Tone: Avoid sounding arrogant, while displaying confidence. Your achievements, skills, and experiences are valuable, but you are eager to learn from others, expand your abilities, and grow as an individual.
  • Proof-Read: Perfect grammar and spelling must be coupled with clear phrasing and intelligible vocabulary.
  • Ask for Assistance: With ample time and organized information, a teacher or professor can bring added value to your application.
  • Follow the Instructions: Adhere to submission deadlines and word/character count restrictions.
  • Letter of Reference: Select referees who are familiar with your experiences, achievements, and goals. A relevant and personalize letter can enhance your application.
  • Give Yourself Time: Rushing will only increase your stress level and margin for error, while limiting opportunities for support.
  • Never underestimate the wealth and value of your experiences!

Classical Theatre Project Presents Shakespeare’;s Hamlet

Live at The Toronto Centre for the Arts

With the cold and unforgiving winter finally behind us, one can’t help but long for the ice to quickly melt away. In his famous Sonnet 18, Shakespeare so eloquently brings to mind the imagery of “…the darling buds of May” that will soon fill our city with life and the promise of a more temperate climate.” What better way to spend a spring morning in early May than at the theatre, watching a live performance of one of  Shakespeare’s greatest literary dramas!

The Classical Theatre Project will be presenting Hamlet on Thursday May 1st and Tuesday May 6th at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Miss Samara’s English class will be in attendance once again this year, and all students at FutureSkills High School are encouraged to join. Friends and family members are also welcome to share in the unique experience that is live theatre! Reserve your tickets today by calling the CTP box office at 416-915-6750.

CTP specializes in live entertainment for the digital generation. Their shows range from traditional Elizabethan productions of Shakespeare’s works, to technologically innovative adaptations of modern musical classics. Founded in 2001 by David Galpern and Charles Roy, this Toronto based acting company has performed for more than 1,000,000 people in over 40 cities across North America.

The origins of established acting companies, such as Toronto’s CTP, date back to London in the 16th century. This was when Queen Elizabeth first began granting licenses by royal patent to organized acting troupes. Today, she is still remembered as one of the earliest patrons of the arts--theatre included.

Shakespeare himself was a member of a very notable Elizabethan acting company protected by the Queen, namely the Lord Chamberlin’s Men. Here Shakespeare wrote many of his most highly regarded plays, including Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. As an actor, he performed alongside the famous Richard Burbage, whose father, James Burbage, established the first London playhouse, which appropriately was given the name ‘The Theatre’.

Before 1576, acting troupes were performing their dramas on city street corners and in local inn yards. Eventually open air amphitheatres were constructed, much like in the time of the Ancient Greeks. In fact, the Elizabethan amphitheatres were designed to emulate the classical style of the Ancient Greek theatre.

It was in Athens in the 4th century B.C where the first playwrights in Western literature emerged, including Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.  These ancient dramatists established forms still relied on by their modern counterparts.  It was during this historical era that Aristotle wrote hisPoetics, the first play-writing manual and earliest surviving written work of dramatic literary theory. This ancient text is still highly regarded and continues to be studied by playwrights today! It was in this famous work that Aristotle examined the characteristics of a tragic hero, an archetypal character prevalent in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as well asmany works of literature throughout history.

When it comes the theatre and drama, the historical significance of the Ancient Greeks remains apparent when we consider the etymology of these very words. Theatre is derived from the Greek world theatron, which means to view as a spectator, while drama is a Greek word meaning action.

Unlike his ancient predecessors, Shakespeare’s interests and talents extended beyond play writing and acting, as he also focused his attention on the business side of this growing industry.  During the time of the Ancient Greeks, theatre was in no way a business enterprise, but rather connected to the state religious festival in honour of the god Dionysus. By the end of the 16th century, Shakespeare would become both a shareholder and senior member of the Lord Chamberlin’s Men. He was also a joint owner of the famous Globe Theatre, which sadly was destroyed by a fire in 1613. If you ever find yourself in London you can visit a modern reconstruction, named Shakespeare’s Globe, which was built near the site of the original theatre.  Today Shakespeare’s Globe is home to countless play productions as well as utilized by the Royal Opera House.

A lot has changed since Shakespeare’s time, as we live in a digital information age where all forms of literature are available at the click of a button. Pull out your smartphone or tablet, or just sit down at any computer and within minutes you can be reading one of Shakespeare’s great plays or Sophocles’ ancient tragedies. While access, and the mediums by which we enjoy literature today, has changed vastly over the centuries, the private reading of plays has been enjoyed since the time of the Ancient Greeks. By means of the written word we are granted access to the plot, which according to Aristotle is of central importance since “the plot is the soul of tragedy”. Nevertheless, drama is a unique form of literature in that it is written to be performed by actors on a stage in front of a live audience!  Therefore, when we merely read this literary genre we miss out on many theatrical elements that bring greater meaning and understanding to the play.  Therefore, everyone should take the time to visit one of Toronto’s many theatres and watch a live performance of your favourite play!  FutureSkills High School students have enjoyed this experience year after year, bridging the gap between history, literature, tradition, and entertainment. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

Posted By Miss Samara - March 2014
Grade 12 English Teacher | FutureSkill High School

Links and Sources:

Parents, Grade 9 - Grade 12 * and Adults

Re: Recording the Credits obtained in Private Schools

August 18, 2009

Kit Rankin
Field Services Branch
Ministry of Education
Mowat Block
Queen's Park
Toronto, ON, M7A 1L2

Dear Ms Rankin

RE: Memorandum dated July 17, 2009

Your memo is titled "Revision to the Recording of Credits on the Ontario Student Transcript."

The revision consists of wholesale rubber-stamping of the letter "P" on credits obtained in private schools.

Your memo provides no rationale for this labeling. It does not identify any benefits, nor does it mention any entities that might profit from any such possible benefits. In the absence of any persuasive reasons for appending a label to all private school credits, I will address the downside.

Labeling of all private school marks will inevitably raises in the public mind, a question about the meaning / purpose of the distinction. It is reasonable to suppose that the public will assume that it is a warning; similar to the ones placed on restaurants. However, you are putting the same label on all private schools. The bottom line is that this process might put some schools out of business without so intending.

I have no doubt that there are improper practices by some schools.However, the ministry itself holds the responsibility and has the authority to address this problem by identifying them and revoking their licenses.

It is four years since the ministry closed four private schools.Since then, the number of private schools has grown like mushrooms, yet the ministry has not closed any other school during this period.

It serves the ministry and its stakeholders best if you address specific questionable practices in individual schools directly. It is not fair to download the consequences of such practices onto the whole population of private schools.

The main problem with your proposed revision is that, intentional or not, it seems to tar ALL private schools with the same brush. It is arbitrary and patently unfair.

If there is a valid reason for rubber-stamping ALL private schools, it should be made public. The "P" stamp looks like a "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" solution to this problem.

I suggest that you consider the following alternatives for controlling private schools:

  • - Send your inspectors out more often.
  • - Send them randomly, without pre announcement
  • - Regulate the teaching practices
  • - Check teacher qualifications and their relevant experiences

Best regards,

Hassan Mirzai


Copy: Director of the Provincial School Branch

Copy: Chair, Ontario Universities' Council on Admissions

Copy: Chair, Committee of Registrars, Admissions, and Liaison Officers

Copy: The Ontario Universities' Application Centres

Copy: Dr. Reza Moridi MPP for Richmond Hill

Copy: The Toronto Star

Copy: The Canadian Press

Copy: Salam Toronto Publications

Copy: Inspected Private Secondary Schools


Here is the original Ministry Letter:

From FutureSkills to Our Parents

By Herb Alexander, FutureSkills' Parent Coordinator

Parenting Teenagers is generally considered the most difficult phase of parenting.

In Physical, mental and glandular respects, our teens are in turmoil. Their bodies, minds and glands are all preparing them for a new world: the world of adulthood and independence. They are confused about what is going on around them. At the same time, they are unsure of themselves. They are also susceptible to poor advice. Reliable guidance is critical. On the other hand, they are sensitive. This is a time when it is important for parents to play a stabilizing role in the life of the family. Open Communication and honesty are critical. The question is, where can we go for help.

Unfortunately, most of us have not received much formal training in the role we are expected to play. On the other hand, the problems parents face are not only common, they are the subject of many ideas and opinions. A basic challenge is deciding which source to trust.

As a teacher of many years experience, and a parent of two teenagers who are now themselves parents - I consider myself a reasonable judge of the material that can be of help to our parents.

This section of our website will, from time to time, include selected articles about parenting teens. Topics will range from - "Dealing with Peer Pressure" to "Teens with Eating Disorders"; from "Saying NO to Your Teens" to "TEN Mistakes Parents Make with their Teens"

Naturally you must use your own judgment. Your family is unique. But on the other hand, it always helps to consider what other are thinking about the problems we are facing as parents of teens.


1- Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11, and Grade 12

2-Courses offered:
Math Grade 9 (MPM1D), Math Grade 10 (MPM2D), Math Grade 11: Functions (MCR3U), Math Grade 12: Advanced Functions (MHF4U), Calculus and Vectors (MCV4U) and Mathematics of Data Management (MDM4U)

Science Grade 9 (GSNC1D), Science Grade 10 (SNC2D), Science Grade 11: Biology (SBI3U), Physics (SPH3U) and Chemistry (SCH3U), Science Grade 12: Biology (SBI4U), Chemistry (SCH4U) and Physics (SPH4U)

English ESL: ESLAO, ESLBO, ESLCO, ESLDO ESLEO, English Academic: ENG3U, ENG4U, Literacy Course: OLC4O and TOEFL preparation Course French grade 9 (FSF1D), French Grade 10 (FSF2D), French Grade 11 (FSF3U) and French Grade 12 (FSF4U)
Arabic Grade 10 (LYABD), Arabic Grade 11 (LYACU) and Arabic Grade 12 (LYADU)
Korean Grade 10 (LKKBD), Korean Grade 11 (LKKCU) and Korean Grade 12 (LKKDU)
Farsi (Persian) Grade 10 (LYGBD), Farsi Grade 11 (LYGCU) and Farsi Grade 12 (LYGDU)
Chinese Grade 10 (LKABD), Chinese Grade 11 (LKACU) and Chinese Grade 12 (LKADU)

Human Growth and Development (HHG4M), Individuals Families in a Diverse Society (HHS4M),
Computers Grade 11 (ICS3U), Computers Grade 12 (ICS4U), Media Arts Grade 11 (ASM3M), Media Arts Grade 12 (ASM4M), Visual Arts Grade 9 (AVI1O), Visual Arts Grade 10 (AVI2O), Visual Arts Grade 11 (AVI3M), Visual Arts Grade 12 (AVI4M), History Grade 12 (CHY4U), International Business Grade 12 (BBB4M), Economic Grade 12 (CIA4U)


Help Your Teen Resist Peer Pressure by Finding Their Strengths

By Catherine H. Knott, Ph.D.

Our teens often struggle both academically and socially because they lack a strong sense of self. Peer pressure becomes peer prediction of behavior when teenagers go with the crowd to gain a sense of personal value. Peer attachment can move from healthy friendship to an unhealthy loss of direction and values when teenagers do not see themselves as valuable individuals with strong connections to a whole community. Instead, they may follow peers into negative behaviors including drug and alcohol consumption, stealing, lying, disrespectful attitudes towards adults and society, and even violence. Authors Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, in Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, show us the problems of peer orientation and what we must do as adults to provide a caring "village of attachment" to help teenagers re-orient themselves to their families and to their society.

But the missing piece in the larger puzzle for most teens, and some adults, is figuring out their roles, or how they best fit into the larger community. A sense of personal value rests with the individual, but derives from recognition of how the individual relates to and fits into the larger community. Children do not usually question their role because it is obvious: They belong to their parents and their role is to be children who grow and learn. Teenagers, on the other hand, transition into viewing themselves as community members with future adult roles and responsibilities. Because our society does not dictate these roles, they begin to look inside themselves for a sense of direction. When they have trouble with introspection and contemplation of choices or with finding the particular strengths or gifts that could guide their future roles in society, teens flounder.

In traditional societies, many mechanisms helped teens find their future roles. In some societies, even today, birth into a particular family may dictate future work and even whom a person may marry. In most societies in the past, transitioning to adult roles happened in a natural context of farm work or training for professions that had been part of the family for generations, as well as earlier marriages, and a stronger sense of community. Community expectations that teens as young as 14 would be ready to assume more adult roles directed teens' experiences, and religious and social rites of passage clarified these expectations for most people.

While contemporary society in the United States has let go of many of these traditional expectations and practices, it has not replaced them with anything solid, aside from the most general expectations that young adults will get a driver's license, vote, work somewhere, pay taxes, and register for the draft if they are male. What is lacking is a sense of specific roles for the unique contributions that each individual can make. As adults, we must do a better job of providing guidance and assistance to teenagers as they try to figure out how to fit into the larger community. If our teenagers have a vision of how they can both belong to their community and responsibly devote their energy to enhancing community life in the future, they will be happier, more stable, and less likely to succumb to pressures from outside themselves. Help Them Find a Calm Center.

Our teenagers often lack quiet time to reflect on their lives and to find their own sense of direction. Calendars full of afterschool activities, long school days, and busy social schedules fill our teenagers' daily lives. In the past, farm chores after school allowed plenty of time for reflection. Now, working at fast food restaurants or other hectic jobs fill teen brains with exhausting details and do not encourage peaceful contemplation of life's possibilities.

In addition, the technological revolution often overloads any remaining free time with Internet surfing, electronic games, phone calls, text messaging, and endless sources of visual and audio entertainment. There is little time in the day to just think. Whereas most parents today grew up in an era with fewer of these distractions, our teens may not know any differently unless we take the time to show them. As parents, we are role models and guides and we must take on this role with passionate commitment if we are to help our teenagers thrive. In order to help them find a calm center, most of us need to start with ourselves and find our own calmer center, providing ourselves with a time and a place for peaceful contemplation.

We can provide a variety of times and places to center ourselves in the midst of our daily lives. By setting aside a room in the house as a "quiet space" without electronic devices, or by taking a few minutes each day to exercise, practice yoga or simply walk around our neighborhood, we signal to our children that peaceful, calm relaxation and contemplation is important. As we model this practice for them, we also can lead the way for them to achieve it themselves. We can offer to help them find a special quiet place in the house just for thinking. We also can offer to help teenagers figure out ways to reach that calm, centered place through exercise that appeals to them, whether walking, biking, hiking, swimming, or something else. We can set aside some time to discuss their busy schedule with them and whether they need to make more time for themselves. We can offer to buy an album of peaceful music that lends itself to relaxing time for contemplation. And we can learn to leave them alone when they are thinking, saving our own comments, reminders, and questions for later. Sometimes, however, adults and teenagers alike may find themselves so overwhelmed that they need a real retreat to find the calm, quiet place inside where they can think about their lives and the choices they are making. Taking a family vacation, or even a one-on-one parent-teen weekend, with quiet time in mind, can be a gift for more than just the teenagers. This type of retreat must be different from the high energy vacations planned around visiting relatives, strenuous sight-seeing, or busy activities such as visiting theme parks or ski resorts. A cabin in the woods with local hikes, a cottage on a lake with a couple of boats, or even house-sitting at a remote country house offer lots of possibilities for peace and quiet. When our teens appear to be hitting a wall mentally or reaching a low point in valuing themselves, or seem unable to find a sense of direction, this kind of timeout from hectic daily schedules may provide just the respite they need.

Observe Natural Strengths and Gifts

Every individual on the planet has natural strengths and gifts. Although more obvious in a Beethoven or Picasso, our teenagers have strengths and gifts that become clearer to us and to them if we take the time to look. One teenager may show unusual compassion and ability to communicate with pets. Another may sing along to the radio with perfect pitch, suggesting musical ability. Others may show aptitudes in academic subjects or sports, in getting along with other people, leadership, public speaking, or acting, even if we first observe it in a less promising behavior such as imitating the neighbors or family members.

Each strength can lead to adult work opportunities that give individuals a way to contribute to their community. With the right adult encouragement, teenagers can become veterinarians, musicians, scholars, athletes, coaches, actors, and even mayors or legislators. But in order for many teens, especially those who already feel discouraged or do not value themselves enough, to find these strengths in themselves, we as parents and adults in the community must do three things. We must:

  • Give up our preconceived notions of what our teenagers should be doing or being or becoming (such as lawyers, doctors, or other careers of our choice).
  • Take the time to stop what we are doing and observe our teens in action on a daily and weekly basis, watching for what they do well and what they enjoy doing.
  • Help them tap into these strengths and gifts by giving positive feedback about what we observe, asking how they feel about these capabilities or activities, and offering to help them achieve goals in these areas. Perhaps we could buy a sketchbook and pencils for a budding artist, or offer jazz trumpet lessons to a musician, or arrange for a visit to a farm for a teen who loves animals. It is important not to overwhelm our teenagers with too much praise or unnecessary support - they must find their own direction eventually, and will do better if they feel encouraged rather than pushed.

Discover Their Personal Passions

Perhaps the most important, and most difficult, step we must take as parents is to hold back and let our teenagers make the final decisions about the directions they will take in their lives, providing these are positive directions. Most teenagers have strengths and gifts in more than one area, and they, and only they, have the best insight into which of these areas they can remain committed to over a long period of time. A teenager with a gift for languages but who prefers biology should be allowed to pursue the field for which he or she has the most passion. Perhaps she will become a doctor who remembers Latin and Greek medical terminology better than others! A teenager who sings well but really loves working with children may become a teacher who uses music to enhance her teaching. During the last years of high school, teenagers make important decisions about pursuing, or not pursuing, their interests. If our households are too authoritarian, they may lack the self-assurance to pursue their passions in the face of different guidance from us.

As parents and community members, we have to allow these young adults the space to discover their passions themselves and give them the encouragement they deserve. If we do, we will find that they readily become valuable and contributing members of our community in the years to come. They will discover their own unique roles and, knowing their relationship to their communities, will be able to find their own happiness within them.


"Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community" Berry, Wendell. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993. Insightful essays about our responsibilities for building community.
"Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers" Neufeld, Gordon and Gabor Mate. New York: Random House, 2006.


Ten Mistakes Parents Make with Teens


  • Lecture Rather Than Discuss
  • We want our teens to grow into responsible adults able to make decisions. Why then do we fall back on the old lecture when we should be using any problem area as an opportunity to teach a child the process of making a good decision? Treating them like little children rather than budding adults simply alienates teens. This is not to say they no longer need guidance, it just has to be handled in a more adult manner, with discussion, negotiation, and understanding of the conflicting needs of maturing teens. They need the safety of the home and knowledge that the parents are there, but not suffocating control of an overprotective despot.

  • Ignore the Obvious
  • Our teens are suddenly sleeping late, missing classes, missing curfew, not introducing new friends, and we write it off as "normal teen behavior." We often wait until the situation is urgent, burying our heads in the sand to avoid confrontation and more displays of our teen's belligerent, hostile attitude. Overreacting or underreacting...

  • Not Following Through on Rules and Consequences
  • "You are grounded!" "That's it; no allowance this week!" Most parents have no problem creating punishments for breaking the rules. It's what happens a few days or so later that creates the cycle of defiance: your teen drives you nuts until you back down on the consequence. If you set rules, it is important to make clear in advance the consequences for breaking that rule. If that rule is broken, if you do not enforce the consequences you set, your teen has just learned that getting away with breaking the rules is really a piece of cake.

  • Setting Unreasonable Goals
  • Make sure that when you set goals, they are attainable. If your child has a learning disability, yelling at them for not doing well on a math test probably will not help them do better next time. Set expectations that allow the child to succeed based on his or her abilities. If your child needs academic help, find out about local tutoring and after-schools programs. If you want your child to be a concert pianist and they simply can't get to the next level, find out if there is something else they might have a natural ability to do well in.

  • Pointing Out Only the Negative, Expecting Only the Positive
  • Do you just expect good behavior, good grades, and, well, utter goodness, with little encouragement or praises, yet quickly jump on every mistake or example of poor judgment like a pit bull? Some parents believe a job well done is its own reward. While this is true, there is nothing that encourages a child more than the positive feedback of a parent. This is not to say you should jump up and down with joy just because your child didn't skip class this week. If you set consequences for bad behavior, the reward is getting to do the things they normally enjoy. Think of it this way: When you show up at your job every day your boss doesn't praise you for being there; he pays you your wages as he or she normally would.

  • Leaving the Educating up to "Someone Else"
  • Assuming your child will learn about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors at school or elsewhere is a risky assumption at best. Studies have show kids whose parents talk to them about high-risk behaviors and who set clear guidelines about the consequences for engaging in these behaviors are less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, or have sex.

  • Giving Up on Family Time - Too Much of a Hassle
  • Family time is essential. Setting time aside every day for the family to eat together and talk is one of the best defenses against negative peer influences on your teens. Make time for your children on a daily basis to keep communication open. Parents who spend time with their children will be more aware of changes in their demeanor and behavior. Parents who do not spend time with their children often take longer to notice changes in their teens that could signify behavioral or emotional issues.

  • Assume Good Grades Mean No Other Problems
  • A smart kid who does well in school may be able to maintain good grades even though they are drinking or using drugs. In fact, they may know that by maintaining their grades they will avoid your suspicion. Don't write off other signs of trouble just because the grades are not slipping.

  • Not Taking the Time to Know What's Up with Adolescents Today
  • We were all teens once. But teens are different every generation. They have different music and other cultural influences. The teen icons of the 70s and 80s were very different than the icons of today. Media influences are much stronger today as well. Not only are teens exposed to more outside influences on TV, they are also exposed to the Internet where there really are no rules of engagement. Anyone can put up a website. For example, there are websites by anorexic girls that teach other girls how to hide their disorder. It is a good idea to know the Internet and other cultural influences that may impact your child and impact their decision making. One of the best ways to keep a close eye on these influences is to put computers in common areas, making it more difficult for teens to secretly visit sites that might negatively influence their choices or even put them in danger.

  • Giving Up Too Soon: Forgetting the "Three Times" Rule
  • Most teens who have already figured out creative ways to get what they want will not "buckle down" after one attempt to change their behavior, especially if you have backed down on consequences consistently for a period of time. Face it: your teen is going to test your resolve. They are going to test it once, twice, and again. Some teens will look for that crack in the armor to appear and test every time they see it. Teens are smart. They know if you are tired and frustrated, and they often have an uncanny ability to test you just when you are least likely to have the energy to resist. Don't give up. Be consistent. Stay vigilant. This might sound alarmist, but as a parent, your primary job is to raise your children to be independent adults. If you relinquish this full-time responsibility, someone else will teach them the ropes, and that someone may not have their best interests in mind.

Why Is My Teen Sleeping So Much?

By Graciela Sholander

It's a struggle to get your teen out of bed. Her alarm clock goes off, but she continues to sleep soundly. Even when you open the blinds to let the morning light in, she groans and throws the covers over her head. You have to practically drag her out of bed to get her to class. Your once punctual child has become a perpetually tardy teenager. What's wrong with her?

Chances are, your teenager is not getting enough sleep. Recent studies show that teenagers need between 9 and 9 1/2 hours of sleep every night to perform their best during the day. Unfortunately, overloaded schedules prevent many teens from getting the sleep their developing bodies need. The demands of school, extracurricular activities, jobs, social life, and entertainment (movies, television, e-mail, video games) result in many teenagers getting only 6 or 7 hours of sleep.

Research shows that while teenagers sleep, hormones are released to promote growth and development. It's especially important that teens get enough rapid eye movement (REM) sleep to boost their learning and memorizing abilities. Not enough sleep can make your teenager struggle to stay awake in school. It can also make him moody, lethargic, and unable to concentrate on important activities, like driving. The solution is not as simple as getting him to bed by 8:00 PM. Your teenager's biological clock works differently than a child's or adult's. If your teen tends to stay up late and get up late, it's because of his internal clock.

Some school districts have begun to shift their schedules to accommodate students' biological clocks, starting classes after 8:00 AM. Until this becomes a universal practice, though, you'll have to work with your teen to help her get enough sleep and stay alert in class. Here are ways to help:

  • Empathize. Your teen is NOT lazy. On the contrary, she's probably overloaded and sleep-deprived. Remember, teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Encourage your teen to "wind down" near bedtime. Reading, listening to soft music, meditating, or doing yoga are great ways to slow down and prepare for a good night's rest.
  • Eliminate any caffeinated foods and drinks, including sodas, coffees, and chocolates, after about 4:00 PM.
  • Help your teenager simplify his life. Can he work fewer hours at his part-time job? Can he finish homework earlier in the day? Can he e-mail his friends well before bedtime?
  • Light up her room in the morning. Sunlight, daylight, or even bright room lights can help her shift into wake mode. But don't expect her to jump out of bed!
  • Talk. Tell your teen what's going on with his growing body. Let him know that getting more sleep will help him feel better and have more energy. Once he understands what's happening, he'll probably want to go to bed earlier.
Does My Teen Need a Babysitter

Does My Teen Need a Babysitter?
By Jane St. Clair

If you have the choice between leaving your kindergartner or your 17-year-old home alone, which one do you pick? Many would say you should choose the kindergartner because they can't get into as much trouble as your teenager can. After all, a kindergartner won't engage in such destructive behaviors as experimenting with drugs and alcohol, sex or gang-related activities. Nor will they text 200 friends on their cell phone and invite them over for a spontaneous party.

Does this mean your teenager needs a babysitter? No. Most researchers who study children believe that over-supervising a teen actually stunts development. What is important is to love, support and trust your teen, and respect their privacy and independence.

Experts in the field of adolescent psychology advise parents to allow their teens as much privacy as possible in areas that do not have to do with safety. For example, you can respect your teen's privacy by not reading their emails or letters, or going through papers in their room. You can still retain the right to view everything they post online or view anything left in a public place if you still feel like your teen isn't fully disclosing their activities to you.

While you need your teen to practice decent hygiene and occasionally tidy up their room, you do not need to be on their case about what they wear, what music they like and what hairstyle they choose. You can retain the right to not allow unkindness, obscene language and violence in your home. You should also intervene or seek professional help if your teen is into self-destructive or criminal behaviors such as abusing drugs or alcohol, suicidal ideation, stealing, violence, sexually abusive relationships or associations with gangs.

Keeping Tabs on Your Teen

Specialists in adolescent development do not believe it is a good idea to leave teenagers alone for long periods of time, such as over a weekend. Leaving them alone routinely for three or more hours a day is also not good practice, even if you check up by phone, because it is possible for your teen to lie to you about their whereabouts if they are using a cell phone. Criminal activity among teenagers actually increases dramatically between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., when many teens are left unsupervised.

The better thing to do is to encourage your teenager to engage in adult-supervised activities after school or to find an after-school job. Know where your child is, especially at night, and give them a curfew. Get to know his friends personally and, most importantly, keep the lines of communication open. The more you communicate with your teenager, the more they will seek your counsel and tell you about what's going on their life. Then you will never feel as though you need a babysitter for your teen.