I wrote a check-in about our curriculum choices for ninth grade, but I didn’t talk about the emotional development I’m seeing in my 14 year old daughter. I want to share that not as a brag, but as a reassurance to you moms who are struggling with children who seem irresponsible.
You may wonder, “Will this child ever
- keep up with her…?”
- put away her…?”
- remember to…?”
and so on.
I was (am) one of those moms. I always felt that my daughter was not as responsible as I thought she should have been at her age. I would think back to myself at her age and remember (or dream?) that I was so much more mature, neater, more responsible, and better at multi-tasking.
I’m probably remembering incorrectly! But at any rate, I wondered if my child would grow up to be an irresponsible adult due to some lack in my parenting. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in this fear. (Tell me I’m not, please.)
Well, this first semester of high school has demonstrated to me that responsibility blooms slowly but surely. It can’t be bludgeoned or dictated into existence. It must be nurtured. It has to be fertilized and staked and then left alone to grow at its own pace.
Rejoice with me! My teenager is growing into a responsible young woman.
My Teen is Learning How to Study
We are using Apologia science curriculum. This is Emma’s first time with a rigorous, textbook based program with tests. (Up to this point, we have always taken a living books approach.) It has been a big transition, and despite my offers to help, Emma has chosen to work out her difficulties on her own.
After doing poorly on a few initial tests, she learned that simply reading the textbook wasn’t enough. She needed to mark it, visualize it, draw diagrams, and make lists in her notebook. In other words, she worked out, on her own, how to study her biology lessons.
She knows that she is a very visual learner, so anytime there is a chart or diagram, it helps her learn. When there is no chart, she searches for one or makes her own.
So although I’m not requiring notebooking pages like I used to in earlier years, those experiences laid a foundation that she can build on to guide her own learning. I know that in previous years, I gave her a wide variety of learning tools. So now I’m I can trust her to choose what to use.
By the way, I let her retake the tests to improve her scores. This is something public school teachers do, and it seemed only fair to offer her some concessions as she makes this transition to a new way of learning.
Algebra is tough too, and Emma has discovered that she should tackle it early in her school day when her mind is fresh. She is finding her own rhythms for what works, and I am so proud of her for making those choices on her own.
I could have forced her to study in certain ways, but I feel strongly that the choices and discoveries have to come from her not from without. I frequently offered help, but when Emma declined, I let her make her own choices.
My Teen is Learning Self-Discipline
Emma has discovered that listening to music doesn’t help her while she works on her tough science and algebra courses. But it’s okay when she’s doing art or studying Arabic. So, she is monitoring her own phone usage during school time. You know that phone doesn’t mean phone but music, internet, texting, video, and a host of other distractions. Of course, you and I know that you can’t watch a movie on Netflix and also focus on a vocabulary lesson, but sometimes we have to let them come to that conclusion on their own. That’s how it sticks.
Time management has never been a huge strength, but I’m seeing growth in this area for Emma. I credit the growth to allowing her autonomy instead of clamping down.
I allow Emma to make her own decisions about when to complete her work. Sometimes she sleeps until noon and is doing schoolwork in the evenings. She often does studying on Saturdays when we have had a busy week.
Other times she studies Arabic or draws for hours at a time. This kind of binge studying is something I encourage. I know how important it is to operate in the flow. When it’s happening, go with it! This is one of the things I do to manage my own work at home business, and I know it makes for greater productivity. I respect her natural ebb and flow of interest in different topics, and as long as the work is done over the course of a few weeks, it doesn’t make any difference to me if it isn’t chunked into 50 minute periods that resemble a public school schedule.
Right now she is a week or so behind on a couple of subject areas, but she has a plan to catch up, so I’m trusting her to make it happen.
We still have weekly check-ins, and I’m always there to offer help or reassurance. But so far, she has done a good job of staying on track overall. It makes me happy to know that she has three and a half years to practice this before she is on her own at college where the stakes (and expenses) are much higher.
I am learning to trust the process of homeschooling. It works even in the area of building responsibility, study skills, and time management. So mom, take heart. If you feel like your child is a mess of irresponsibility, keep nudging and teaching. It will eventually click. No, my child is far from an adult. She still has a lot to learn about being responsible, but I can see that she is well on the road to maturity. And for today, I’m rejoicing in the growth that I see.