Lots of churning and change in the grade 8 and grade 9 years — said a homeschool conference speaker.
I didn’t need someone to say that out loud–I have personal experience. Obviously because I have a few kids, and also, I was a kid.
I thought these turbulent years were significant because they were tough times for my parents. But I might have assumed that that time of life was a singular issue. In hindsight, with a little parenting experience under my belt, I can see that these are turbulent years no matter what our circumstance.
Besides surviving this turbulent time in our children’s lives, there are other skills that will help kiddos this age prep for their future, said the conference speaker.
Learn to digitize their work (uploading and emailing).
I had to giggle at this suggestion–is there a teenager out there that doesn’t email or upload stuff? Or teach their parents how to do online stuff?
If only they could snapchat their essays. Goofy smiles and emoticons included.
Standing in front of a crowd, learning Prezi software or just old fashioned performances, with violins or choirs, theatre or speeches. This all contributes to their public confidence.
Independently engage teachers.
Or other significant adults in their world. Allowing them to engage their adult worlds in an adult way, independently.
What we parents need to do in relationship to these kiddos?
Don’t be judgmental, be realistic.
Perish the thought. Who would judge a teenager? So many things to judge: Don’t talk to your friend that way? Do you know that your undergarment is showing? I think that’s too much eyeliner.
Get them to reflect on schoolwork.
From my unschooling mindset, this is my default setting. Think about each activity and do it with intent. Are you scheduling your time well? Is there a different framework in which you could think through this topic? What do you think of the theme?
Help them work through schedules.
But from my unschooling mindset, I don’t thrive on academic schedules, so I need to create these opportunities for my kiddos, whether through on line classes or brick and mortar classes. Funny that some kids love schedules and create them independently in my home; others like rising with lunch and assume that the world is on their timeline.
Don’t encourage perfectionism.
As a first born woman married to a first born man, this is tough advice for me. Since I’ve also learned that perfectionism is the bane of happiness, I know that letting go is requirement, for them and for me.
I’m learning this for myself still. When I make a mistake, I prefer getting out the boxing gloves. On the other hand, what would I say to a friend? Not to get out the boxing gloves. Learn from your mistake. Then move on in the expectation that you’ll learn what you need when you need to learn it.
Share opinions in respectful ways.
It’s taken me years to learn that in teaching them to share their opinions in respectful ways, I also had to learn to speak mine respectfully. Yelling, “be kind to your sister already,” doesn’t work. (Well, sometimes it seems to at first glance.)
Practice empathy–not black and white thinking.
The one thing that I didn’t realize I was doing in helping my kiddos was having more kiddos. Yes, it makes for a busy household. And no doubt it’s more expensive. Certainly it’s more work. But there are so many opportunities to learn empathy, kindness, gentleness, sharing opinions in respectful ways when there are many people to practice these skills.
Gradually pass over the reigns to your children.
When once I thought I must eventually choose to pass the reigns to my child, I have been challenged by my child and allow her as much independence as she can responsibly handle.
At the end of the conference seminar, the speaker encouraged me not to be judgmental, to remember that my kids are watching and listening, to admit my mistakes, to keep teaching my kids empathy and to breathe and pray all the way.