Cedar Ridge Academy Academics: a structured learning environment to support students

Cedar Ridge Academy Residential Treatment Therapeutic Boarding School Academics Program maximizes student strengths and encourages positive coping skills.

Parenting teenagers can be highly stressful. Desiring to help their child, parents reach for help from specifically trained and experienced professionals. The academics program at Cedar Ridge Academy Residential Treatment Therapeutic Boarding School employs such professionals who, working from a time-proven, empirically based model  provide a structured learning environment that is key to providing the help troubled teens and their families need. This environment allows students to recognize the opportunities they have to better their situations while being educated about the consequence of future choices.

Student strengths maximized Cedar-Ridge Academy co-ed therapeutic boarding School  Engaging in Academics | Cedar Ridge Academy Student strengths maximized Cedar Ridge Academy co ed therapeutic boarding SchoolAt time of enrollment, most students have a history of struggling to meet expectations. Transforming existing behaviors into positive, productive new habits is a process consistently taught and reinforced at Cedar Ridge Academy. As with most changes in human behavior, this process takes time and much effort on the part of both the student and staff. At times, it may appear to parents that their child’s progression is too slow. This causes increased frustration for the already frazzled care-giver. Treatment is expensive and expectations for the program to “fix” the problem are common. Parents may begin to fear that thier child’s situation may never improve.

The Cedar Ridge Academy program nurtures real change.

The natural reaction to parental anxiety is to return to strategies used previously. To help break this unproductive cycle, allow us to address some possible contributing factors to your child’s lack of progress, provide information that may help you accept and endure current and future challenges, and provide some positive, alternative responses for you.

The Cedar Ridge Academy program has proven effective for nurturing real, second-order (personally driven as opposed to externally driven) change for most students we treat. However, not every student shows immediate progress. The reasons for this are as diverse as the students themselves, but most can be addressed in the following categories: fit, motivation, and individual choice.

Optimizing your student’s “fit” at Cedar Ridge Academy

Whether you, an educational consultant, or another invested party took the lead in making the decision, Cedar Ridge Academy was deemed a good ‘fit’ for your child. Our Student Services and Admissions personnel also believed the program would benefit your student. To help optimize your child’s fit at Cedar Ridge Academy, it is important that pertinent information be honestly shared with our professionals. At times, information may have been withheld or was unavailable during the decision process. To best help your student achieve success – and for our program to be most effective – if you are aware of information that was unavailable or withheld, possibly for fear of affecting the student’s enrollment (e.g. history of aggression, extreme oppositionality, or suicidal ideations), please immediately provide that information to our therapeutic staff.  Additionally, you may find it helpful to discuss psychological testing with your child’s therapist. Once all pertinent information is available, our staff will be enabled to determine the best course of treatment for your student.

Helping motivate your student to take responsibility and learn to advocate for him or herself

Students taught motivational responsibility Cedar Ridge Academy co-ed therapeutic Boarding school  Engaging in Academics | Cedar Ridge Academy Students taught motivational responsibility Cedar Ridge Academy co ed therapeutic Boarding schoolBecause we focus on maximizing student strengths while encouraging positive coping strategies, only moderate to severe learning challenges and psychological issues fall outside our scope of treatment.  If a student’s progression is slow, the cause likely falls into one of the following two categories: motivation and individual choice.

Student motivation is probably the biggest factor affecting success. The role of the disengaged individual is the most powerful position to play in a power struggle, because a certain level of engagement is necessary to make second-order change. Most students that play the “I don’t care” card are being dishonest. They care very much (hence the conflict), but they believe their investment will be used to control, belittle, or manipulate them in some way. Regardless of the rationale behind student disengagement, we constantly look for ways to reengage students to help them reach success as we see it.

One ineffective motivation tool is what we term the ‘carrots and sticks’ method: the proverbial carrot is dangled in front of the student to move them forward. This method does not work – for reasons that are not readily apparent.

In a popular economic experiment conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), students were asked to complete a variety of challenging and diverse activities (e.g. puzzles, memorization, putting a ball through a hoop, etc.) while offered one of three amounts of money. The study found that as the monetary incentives increased, so did student performance (as was expected), but only on tasks that called for physical skill and engagement. Student performance actually decreased on skills that required even rudimentary cognitive skill and engagement even though the monetary incentives were increased. These results were duplicated and reconfirmed by many other individuals in various locations. The bottom line is, that once the activity calls for mental engagement above very basic levels, external incentive is negatively correlated to performance.

So how do we motivate students, especially those who feel that school is especially challenging, and for whom the carrot and stick aren’t working? This is the key message for you as a parent. Neither can we as a school nor you as a parent take responsibility for the student’s motivation. When parents or the program take on the role of “fixing” the student, they are taking away the chance for the student to own his or her successes or failures. When the student is less invested than the parent, the student feels in a position of power over the parent. This invites a power struggle.

However, we can look at three areas to determine why the students aren’t motivating themselves: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose (AMP).

Student Autonomy mastery purpose Cedar Ridge Academy co-ed therapeutic boarding school  Engaging in Academics | Cedar Ridge Academy Student Autonomy mastery purpose Cedar Ridge Academy co ed therapeutic boarding schoolAutomony, Mastery and Purpose (AMP) opportunities provided for Cedar ridge academy Students

Autonomy refers to the student’s desire to be self-directed. Mastery refers to their desire to get better at things. Purpose is the belief that their actions have worth. Cedar Ridge Academy provides opportunities for students to review, redo, and reevaluate their work at a pace that is within their ability – giving them a sense of mastery and an understanding that they can do better with academic issues that have plagued them in the past.

Our program educates students on the effects of choices and options that are available to them. Students learn that making alternate choices is of worth in their lives. They may even rediscover a sense of purpose they had forgotten. The program and school also expect the student to solve his or her own problems. They are encouraged to use people around them as resources, but their sense of autonomy is nurtured by the expectation that they advocate for themselves.

Students who are not succeeding due to lack of motivation are usually struggling with finding purpose in what our program is teaching them. They also struggle feeling the sense of autonomy they need in order to own the process. If your student is struggling with motivation, speaking with them authentically and humbly about the merits of our program goals may help them find the purpose they need to make real changes. If you recognize that you have been trying to control your student (using carrots or sticks) instead of recognizing the independent individual he or she is desperately trying to become, please adjust your approach and communicate your belief in your student and the accountability he or she has in life. Doing so will help your student be able to fully own the choices he or she makes.

If you find yourself struggling to support our program goals and/or are allowing your student to flounder as they try to accept that others will no longer step in and rescue them from growing up, then ‘fit’ may still be the issue. Your student may still be the right fit, but your own beliefs and attitudes may require another placement for your child.

individual choice is supported at Cedar Ridge Academy to help students achieve voluntary, real, growth and change

Student individual choice Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School  Engaging in Academics | Cedar Ridge Academy Student individual choice Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding SchoolAs educators and parents, it is important to recognize the influence we have over our students’ choices and work to maximize that influence. However, the student is ultimately in control of his or her thoughts and actions.

The student must realize that they have this control if they are to take advantage of opportunities available to them. In fact, many oppositional students do recognize the control they have – and work to punish those around them that would presume otherwise. However, once the power struggle is removed, the student is free to take accountability.

Cedar Ridge Academy does not advocate mere compliance and subservience in students. Rather, our staff actively work to help each student achieve voluntary, real, growth and change. It is possible that some students will not see the purpose behind changing. There may be those who will not be influenced by any instruction or incentive we introduce into the environment. These students choose to avoid success. In this case, we hope that the seeds we have planted will sprout into self-motivation at a later stage of development.

 “I think of you often as I move through life’s changes. What a life-saving force you were to Valerie, and a strong guide and mentor to both Karen and me to help us navigate Valerie’s maturation and deal with our own issues.” E. K. (Parent)