What Teachers Wish Parents of High Schoolers Knew,By Crystal Chiang, from theparentcue.org
For almost a decade I was a high school Spanish teacher. Those were some of the best and hardest years of my life, and, if I’m honest, I still miss the excitement that comes with a new school year. There’s a lot of energy around setting kids up to win to have a successful school year. Teachers are confident and parents are hopeful. But setting a kid up to win in high school can look a lot different than it did in middle school and elementary school.
In my experience, when their kids entered high school, a lot of parents weren’t quite sure how to be involved in a helpful way. Either they didn’t engage enough, or they intervened way too much. Looking back, here are a few things that I wish I could tell every parent as they help their child navigate the high school years.
1. They can advocate for themselves.By ninth grade, your student can handle most teacher-student conversation on his or her own. If they need to know how to make up a missing assignment, what their grade was, or whether a teacher offers extra credit, they can (and should) ask for themselves. In fact, that’s just as true for when they need help in a subject, with a classmate, or in a challenging group projects. For MOST of the situations your student will face academically, they are completely capable of finding and speaking with the right person.
Here’s the problem: They don’t want to. Talking to adults can feel awkward and uncomfortable for ninth or tenth graders, and the discomfort can lead them avoid those conversations, telling their parents that they just can’t. But that doesn’t meant a parent has to jump right in. In fact, an uncomfortable conversation is one of the best times a parent can let their teenager know, “I believe in you and I believe you can handle this.” One of the chief goals of high school is to lead your student toward independence.In a few short years, they’ll be driving, dating and maybe even living on their own. And while they’re nowhere near ready for any of that in ninth grade, part of our job is to teach them the skills of doing things on their own.
2. You should still advocate for them (sometimes).In my experience, parents of high schoolers are tempted toward two extremes. They either over-involve themselves, never allowing their child to develop the skills of self-advocacy, OR they back away completely and miss some key opportunities to link arms with and support their child. The truth is, there will be times, even with your high school senior, that you may need to speak up on their behalf. It shouldn’t happen all the time, but when your high schooler has made the attempt to speak up for themselves, either with a coach or a teacher, it is okay to step into the conversation and simply ask the question, “How can I help resolve this?” You may find that your teenager lacks the right words and needs some coaching to know exactly what to say in these situations, or you may find an adult who has failed to recognize your teenager’s best efforts and needs you to provide some clarity.
3. Teachers WANT to help.Everyone can name a bad teacher. Maybe for you, it was your third grade teacher who insisted you recite multiplication tables backward. Maybe it was a middle school teacher who embarrassed you once (and probably didn’t realize it). Maybe it was a high school coach who made you feel like you didn’t have what it takes to succeed. A negative experience in school is the worst and can make you distrust everybody in that role, but the truth is that while there are a few bad apples, most teachers are genuinely good human beings who care a lot about teenagers.
And here’s the real secret, they’re just as nervous about talking to you as you are about talking to them. Just like parents have had a bad teacher experience, most teachers have had a traumatic parent conversation or two, which can leave both sides a little shy. But as uncomfortable as it is, very few things will benefit your son or daughter like establishing a true partnership with his or her teachers. You know your kid better than anybody. And teachers see your kid in an environment you rarely do. So, when the two of you communicate, share observations, and plot together, your teenager benefits.
The truth is, parenting a teenager is tricky. So is teaching one. And maybe one of the best things that could happen for your teenager this year is for you to partner with his or her teachers. One practical way to get the ball rolling is to offer to bring coffee. Teachers rarely get outside the classroom and legally can’t leave the school during the day. So simply asking, “Can I drop by with a latte for you?” will open the door to conversations that may have never happened otherwise
Sometimes the Heart Needs to Hear What It’s Doing Right,
By Autumn Ward, from theparentcue.org
“Well, I guess I can’t do anything right.”
I stopped loading the dishwasher and looked at my daughter when I heard her say that. I knew immediately I was the reason she had said it. I had been picking her apart since she got home from school. I had corrected her for at least five different things before we even had dinner.
Well, why didn’t you talk to your teacher about it? You have got to stop being so quiet and ask more questions.
You have got to start reading more if you are ever going to do better in that class.
That is not where your backpack goes.
The stack of clothes I put on your dresser is still sitting there. I told you to put them away this morning.
Please put your phone down. You are on that thing way too much!
Yes, kids need correcting. But on this day, God used what my daughter said to help me understand two things:
Sometimes the heart needs to hear what it’s doing right.
And, correcting is better received in small doses.
Basically, I imagined God asking me this question:
How would you feel if I told you everything you did wrong today all at once?
If God told me everything I did wrong all at once, I would feel like a total failure and probably want to give up on life. If I thought people only saw the bad, I would feel completely defeated.
Is this how I was making my daughter feel?
Maybe that’s the reason God reveals things to us a little at a time. We would become quickly discouraged and overwhelmed if our eyes were opened to everything that is not right in our lives all at once.
I knew I needed a different plan for helping my daughter. After a brief moment alone seeking how God would want me to respond, this is what I came up with. As always, His way is working much better than mine.
At the end of the day, I want our home to be a place my children want to run to, not away from—a place where they feel loved and encouraged while they learn and grow.The best part is I don’t have to do it alone. God promises to help me every step of the way if I will ask Him.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT FAITH WITH YOUR KIDS WHEN YOU AREN’T SO SURE YOURSELF,
By Sarah Anderson, from theparentcue.org
In the Jewish tradition, when someone is named, it’s believed that the essence of who that person is, is being named and drawn out. It’s why Abram, a name meaning exalted father, is changed to Abraham, meaning a father of a multitude, after God tells him of the descendants he’ll have outnumbering the stars in the sky.
When it came time to name my own two boys we searched for names we liked, but also names that had meanings we wanted to represent them and the essence we wanted drawn out of them.
Asher, in Hebrew means “blessed; happy”.
And Pace in Latin means “peace”.
It’s what I dreamt for my boys. If only it was that simple.
If only we could pick the trajectory we wanted for our children by simply speaking into existence the defining characteristics we want them to embody.
It didn’t take long before I realized this is not how parenting goes, and the names and meaning I wanted so badly for them, actually had more to do with the meanings and characteristics I wanted exemplified in myself.
Something in us as parents sees our children as the chance to live vicariously through them and the choices they have, that we no longer have. We are more tempted to see them as extensions of ourselves, as second chances instead of these entirely other, unique and individualized human beings, who came from us sure, but who are autonomous and unique and not at all under our control.
* * *
These days, as we raise our children I’ve found a common thread coming from the parents we parent with.
A lot of us are wondering what to do about faith.
We’ve noticed the faith of our own childhood looking different from the faith we have now, the things we thought were certain and strong and made as much sense as anything else, to not be as sturdy as we had assumed. It isn’t that we don’t believe. It’s that the belief is so different from where it once started, the metric of faith so other. We are glad to have arrived where we have in this journey of discovery. But it took a minute to get there. So how do we teach with any kind of authority about faith to our kids when so much feels dismantled, rearranged and unsettled for us personally?
I’ve wondered how to look my boys in their eyes and give them answers, when in truth, the answers feel more slippery than they once were, and my confidence in them unstable.
* * *
I think the uncertainty about how to tackle faith with my boys is born from the same place as the desire to name them the way I did. I want to teach them with certitude the things I’ve come to land on so they don’t have to have a period of dismantling, readjusting, rerouting. I want to teach them starting at the finish line, to spare the hardship the journey of faith sometimes initiates in its three steps forward, two steps back.
But what is true about their names is also true about their faith. They are their own. And to wish for them a life of only happiness, peace, and assurance in the big stuff of God, Scripture and all things spiritual—because the alternative is hard—is to rob them of who they are and the distinctly personal trajectory their individual lives will take.
Their story is not mine to write. It is mine to start. And then? To be present should the faith feel more wobbly than they expect.
So I’ll teach my boys on matters of faith like they are starting at square one. With concrete ideas. And certitude. With a lot of wonder but also with a lot of legality. Because they are children. And I’m okay with that. I am not going to introduce a dissonance they don’t yet feel. I’m not going to over complicate what to their young and developing minds feels straightforward and digestible. Even if square one for me was abandoned a long time ago, it was where I had to begin to get where I am now. And besides, that was my journey. It isn’t fair to start theirs at the place mine took 36 years to get to. Especially, when I’m pretty sure I won’t stay where I am now either. In fact, maybe I was wrong to believe that to teach them about faith meant I had to come from a place of having “arrived” myself, when the greatest gift could be a mom en route, in progress, in process.
My objective is to build a foundation in my boys. Not a finished product. And that means we put in place the cornerstones, and also some other pieces that may not stand up over time, but will serve their purpose for right now.
* * *
I named my boys Asher and Pace, happy and peace because I wanted it for me and I wanted it for them—not realizing it was mine to go after myself, and theirs to go after on their own. And I feared I couldn’t teach them a faith that was mine when I didn’t quite understand myself, not realizing faith was mine to introduce to them in the size and space and understanding that matched their minds, and not mine from my own journey to force into the constructs of their hearts and souls.
The story is better when it’s theirs to own, and not mine to dictate. It takes the pressure off me, and gives freedom to them to be their own person. To fight their own battles. Not mine. To posses their own faith. Not mine. To be who they were meant to be, not who I want them to be.
Which means I will hope for their happiness. I will pray for their peace. And I will work alongside them as they do the work of building a faith that stands up against all the world has to throw.
SHOULD YOU MAKE YOUR STUDENTS GO TO CHURCH?
I often talk with parents who tell me that they are struggling to get their students to go to church. They will tell me that their student came once, but just didn't really feel like they got connected. While we strive to make this student ministry the most inviting place for any student on the planet, it is nearly impossible to develop meaningful relationships in one visit, especially if they are here against their will. So what do I think is the solution? Make them go anyway because you know it is good for them. Come serve in the student ministry so they have someone they know in the room that might bring some comfort. Here is an article, that I believe spells out what to do and why.
I Won’t Force My Kids To Go To ChurchPosted on January 25, 2016 by jamesuglum
“My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. ‘Ewww, gross! Meatloaf? Seriously? Mom you know we hate this stuff!’ So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done. Click here to continue.
GOOD RESOURCES ON BULLYING
Many parents assume that a few scuffles with other kids are par for the course during childhood, and that dealing with a bully or two builds character, especially if a son or daughter learns to stand up to the offender (with or without a punch or two being thrown in the process). These themes have driven crowd-pleasing movies such as The Karate Kid and Back to the Future, but what happens off the silver screen is another story. Click here to continue.
CBN.com In the previous article entitled “A Faith-Based Response to Adolescent Bullying,” I ended by asking readers to email me their questions about bullying. Even I was surprised by the number of fathers, mothers, and grandparents who asked for help with bullying, which in some cases has lasted for years and without resolution.
One worried mother wrote:
This article came at the right time for me. When I picked up my 10-year-old son from school last night, he was crying. I asked him what happened. He said that he was teased because he is short. He said he went to the teacher but nothing was done. Click here to continue.
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