The teenage years are such a struggle between childhood and adulthood. Teens want to be treated like adults, but many times lack some of the skill and foresight that is expected from adults. When do we give a teen some wiggle room in their school work as part of their learning curve, and when do we treat it like a boss would, rejecting anything that’s under par?
I realized quickly last year that I did not set the stage for complete and thorough work earlier on, and it was a huge learning curve for Kira to find that I was drilling down to each individual point when she hit the high school years. She was working so hard on some things, and in middle school I failed to notice the finer details that were getting missed because I figured a grading rubric wasn’t necessary yet. Have you set the stage? Have you slowly introduced new expectations as they get older? If not, it probably isn’t fair to expect that type of output from them until they have some practice.
I’m also learning that 9th graders really are largely adult sized children. I don’t mean this in an offensive way, but it’s easy for me to think of my daughter as a budding college student. She wants college level work, she wants college level privileges and I believe she thinks of herself as basically an adult. How easy it is to expect college level work from someone who communicates such needs and wants, but I have to remember that she may underestimate what college level work really looks like. Going from middle school to college is confidence-smashing, and not helpful to anyone.
Some teenagers are really hard on themselves for even the most minor bump in the road. In my opinion, it’s more important to get a child emotionally ready for the world than intellectually ready. You can always learn new things, but learning how to cope with other people and with trying situations takes a lot more work, and causes a lot more pain. If your student needs a bit of grace with a couple assignments in order to realize where their strengths lie, then so be it. I’m not saying to give students a blind pass, but instead of nit picking the grammar of a self-doubting teen, let’s focus on their fantastic creativity and form.
Write it down
I’ll say it again. Write it down. And don’t just write it down, follow up. Kira is a classic skimmer. She will skim instructions, lesson plans, whatever, and details will get missed. Don’t get me wrong, she has great strengths in seeing the big picture! She finishes things fast, but in that effort to be fast, sometimes details get missed. If it wasn’t written down, then it’s not fair to expect something to get done. I highly recommend a lesson planner that will automatically move forward missed work, like Homeschool Planet. If something was written down for a week that you are so sick you’re barely getting out of bed, who’s to say you’re going to get to everything in a timely manner from that week? Busy high school days require some automation, at least in my house.
When it goes wrong
Sometimes things aren’t going to go as planned. Sometimes it will be a downright failure. There are lessons to be learned along the way, and that’s how it has to be treated. Kira knows I’m not afraid to hold her back a grade if I feel that her work wasn’t actually completed, but that’s a drastic measure, and we haven’t gotten to that point, alhamdulilah. Instead, anything we’ve experience thus far has been a life lesson, because the best life lessons are the ones learned while still at home.
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When it goes right
Accountability is not just recognizing when thing go wrong! Celebrate successes, and notice them every time they come up. We should be our child’s biggest supporter, whether that’s supporting them during tough times, or times of celebration. Be the first to suggest a mother daughter date in celebration of work reliably done on time. Take time out to watch a movie together to bask in free time on Friday night. Organize a surprise visit with her best friend, just because you can. The teen years can be a really tough time where kids get really down on themselves. Make sure to lift them up more than you criticize them. They’ll remember that.
Patricia “UmmAyana” Milton says
I’m at this point now with my ninth grader. It’s high time that I set some boundaries because there are days when I feel like I’m getting walked on. Thank you very much for the useful tips on accountability.