Working Independently Yet Responsibly

A reader recently asked ~

“Do you have any ideas when dealing with boys?  My son (11) to be a different learner, wanting to be more independent and do things on his own, which I am fine with and would like to encourage, however he keeps putting everything off and doesn’t want to be told when to learn….”

Your son’s desire to work independently often occurs when children, both boys and girls, move into their tweens and teen years.  The trick is to find the balance between independence  and accountability.  

I believe that independence is given through trust that is earned by repeated responsible behaviour, and so my teen children gained more independence when they regularly worked up to standard.  

I have written several posts on High School and independence here and here, and the tips and advice that I share below applies to high school ages, but you can apply most these points to your independent learner, whatever his age.  Here’s what I found works for us ~

  • Collaborate and decide together what subjects/ topics/ themes/ courses/ or programs your child wishes to cover.  When you provide delight-directed subjects, he will definitely be more motivated.  He may still have to cover other compulsory subjects to meet your country/ state’s education requirements, but if the majority of his homeschooling focuses on his interests and passions, he should co-operate with you.
  • Plan and schedule his subjects and determine his goals and deadlines. Create a basic timetable and a year plan.  Once you schedule his chapters/ lessons/ and topics over each month, this will form your basic year plan.   You can plan your child’s work on  Google Calendar or Homeschool Tracker or in a Spiral Notebook.
    Google Calendar
  • Keep track and record his work. Provide your child his own checklist so he can keep track of his own work.  I use my year plan for my record of work and created space to write comments, marks and dates.
  • Allow your child freedom to choose what and where he wants to work, providing he achieves a certain standard of work.  (Lying on the floor or bed to work is fine for some subjects, but is not effective for written work.) Teens often want to work in their own rooms.  Privacy is important, but, again, they need to demonstrate their responsibility in order to earn your trust.
  • Be flexible yet consistent.  Independent learners should work at their most efficient times (maybe later in the mornings or in the afternoons), but they should work regularly.
  • Set the standards and encourage your teen to raise their standard to meet the requirements for high school.
  • Be firm about how their work is presented or how detailed their notes should be.  Phase this in as they start their new work.  Encourage them to improve as they master the basics.
  • Very Important — Schedule regular accountability sessions with your independent learner.  Start with daily meetings before schooling starts, to discuss the schedule and his assignments.  Sign-off his check lists and discuss and evaluate his assignments at the end of the day.  Once he has accomplished his assigned tasks correctly and independently, you can meet to sign off his work once a week. These accountability sessions should be friendly, but focused meetings.   They are essential to building trust in relationship so that he can work more and more independently.  For example, if a child skips work or produces inferior work, re-schedule the assignment for him to do/ redo.  It is good to sit side-by-side and talk about the work, rather than simply tick pages with a red pen.  Quite often these discussions are an excellent opportunity to evaluate your child’s understanding, their focus or ability.  I make notes in my record of work when we meet.   Please read Heather Woodie of Blog, She Wrote post Fostering Collaboration With Morning Meeting Time.
  • Mom, you need to be consistent.  Keep an eye on your child’s progress.  Don’t skip meetings or forget to have daily or weekly meetings, because, before you notice, your child may fall behind or skip work altogether!  I “dropped the ball”  when I lost track of our middle daughters’ progress in her first year when she worked independently.  If I skip weekly meetings, some tasks fall below the standard.  Children need regular checkups with the necessary encouragement or suggestions to upgrade and improve in their work.
  • Never stick to something that simply doesn’t work!  You can adjust the course as you go along.  Find alternatives such as a study group/  a tutor or an online course where there is conflict between you and your child.
  • Tailor-make your homeschooling to include a variety of subjects such as life skills and entrepreneur options.
  • Ensure that your independent learner avoids obvious distractions such as cell phones, social media notifications, computer games etc.  My hubby insisted that our children put their cellphones in our bedroom at night until after 2pm the next afternoon, so that they had undisturbed sleep and homeschool without temptations of constant online distractions.
  • Above all, maintain a heart-to-heart relationship with your child.  Remain interested and involved in your child’s interests, passions and friends.  Even though they seem to “push us away” in their desire to become independent, they still want and need us in their lives.  Listen to their music, watch their games and videos.  Read aloud to them, laugh with them, pray with them.  Despite your changing role, this is still the most wonderful, intimate way to educate your child!

Dear mom, your child’s desire to work independently is actually your goal!  Our role as homeschool moms is to facilitate our children to become independent.  We need to prayerfully and graciously learn how to move out of center stage and stand in the wings of our emerging young adults’ lives.

Wishing you much wisdom and grace as you work through your son’s transition.

Blessings, Nadene

 

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7 Things Not To Do For Your Teen

How do we raise competent adults if we’re always doing everything for our kids?  As devoted homeschool parents we often are very involved in our children’s lives, but as they mature, we should graciously back off and allow our teens to grow, learn and mature in every area of their lives.

“Parenting on Purpose” allows opportunity for our kids to develop the necessary life skills.  Some may view this as a lack of parenting, but research shows that “helicopter parenting” — over-involved, hyper-vigilant parenting —  is a one-way ticket to incompetent offspring,  While we don’t want our children to fail, we need to realize that adversity is a normal part of life and the only way to teach our children coping skills is to make them do and think for themselves.

To quote Ann Landers,

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

Here are some issues to avoid when parenting teens ~

  1. Do not speak for them.  Do not stand in for them in social situations, doctor’s consultations, interviews, bookings and introductions.  After blundering in this area and seeing my children cringe and roll their eyes when I butted in conversations, I made a decision to shut up and give my teens the space to speak for themselves.  They often amaze me with their eloquence.  My shy daughter still tries to avoid answering the telephone and greeting visitors, but she has become more confident.  Practice makes this life skill easier.
  2. Do not lie for them.  For over-protective parents, this may be a form of trying to soften the blows of life, but our teens need to connect with the consequences of their decisions, lack of diligence, mistakes or issues.  Our teens need to learn to be honest, admit their failings, and find ways to make right.  Often harsh consequences teach them far more than a weekend of lectures.
  3. 20161201_185333Do not manage their time.  Every teen should set their own alarms, wake up,  prepare and be on time without mom or dad cajoling, persuading, nagging or reminding.  Don’t rush around buying last-minute items, find lost clothes or projects or”helping” them reach their deadlines.  Teach your teens to make schedules, activate their own alarms and add reminders to their cellphones, or simply keep a calendar or notebook.  Our aim is to raise well-functioning adults here.
  4. Do not manage their budget & money.  No matter how little or how much pocket-money your teen receives, they need to learn how to save, budget, spend or share their own money.  If you constantly dish out money to your teen, you act as their personal ATM.  Now is the time to open a personal bank account for your teen and teach them how to spend and save wisely.  Don’t rescue them when they spend all their money or suddenly need more money.  Give them ideas or opportunities from young to work to earn extra pocket-money.  My kids tender for projects that need doing around the house to earn extra money.
  5. Do not fight their teacher/ “friend” battles.  When your teen has issues with teachers or friends, it may be wise to listen and ask questions which may lead them to figure out what to do about their unpleasant situation, but at this point, parents should not be personally involved in bringing about resolutions.  Let your teen figure things out for themselves.  My eldest daughter once told her dad, “I can navigate this situation better on my own.”  And she was right.
  6. 20161201_185345Do not take over incompleted work/ chores.  Do not rescue your teen when they forget their work, leave it behind, delay or procrastinate and run out of time with work or chores.  Again, allow the consequences to be the life lesson here.
  7. Stop filling out their paperwork.  Teens should learn how to complete forms or fill their own applications.  With a little advice, most teens should be able to complete all their own paperwork.  Practice this skill while they are still young.  Every teen should practice their own signature and write neatly and clearly.

My parenting goal is to raise competent and capable adults.  And to accomplish this, I am backing off in areas where my teens can stand on their own two feet.  So, despite my love and my desire to hover and help, I want to see my teens succeed in the real world.  This means that I may have to stand by as they navigate failure and real life stuff on their own.

So please don’t judge me if my kids seem a little unsure, make mistakes, or sometimes suffer the consequences … it’s all part of growing teens in independence.

And may I add here, that this is an area that calls for grace

… to yourself … to your children … and to others.  Grace to other moms who are trying to figure out just how much help is required .. or who don’t know how to step back …  Grace to young adults who are growing and learning.

In Grace, Nadene

Standing in the Wings

img-20160513-wa0002A precious friend and veteran fellow homeschooling mom of young adult and teen children shared her thoughts about her changing role in her children’s lives as

“Standing in the Wings”

It is such a lovely view of a homeschool parent of young adults and teens, that I thought about my own shifts and changes from this new perspective …

No longer stand centre stage

When I started homeschooling my toddler, I enthusiastically led our homeschooling  with dynamic activities and creative ideas .   I was very involved, very focussed, and very much in the spotlight.  My children, although the stars of the show, moved according to my directions, followed the scenes I laid out and progressed according to my timing and planning.  It took a few meltdowns, both theirs and mine, to learn to relax and follow their lead and let them learn at their pace and in their own way.

By the time they started primary or middle school I learnt to ask my children what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to present their learning — to tailor-make their learning.  I moved out of the spotlight and enjoyed seeing them make their learning experiences their own.

This is vital when raising teens.  They want their parents to fade into the background and not be centre stage.  It is a humbling experience to realise that our best efforts are sometimes intrusive and offensive to emerging adults.

Back off gracefully and yet be present and available.  For me, this is a humbling and sometimes uncertain role.

Stand in the wings

 As we move off centre stage we find ourselves standing in the wings.  I realized that much of what makes a play a success is due to the people and their roles out of sight, behind the curtains.  How does this apply in homeschooling young adults?

Lighting …nothing on stage can be seen without good lighting, and lighting often adds to the mood and tone of a scene.  The Word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  We should share the Word with our children.  As parents we have a better overview and can guide our teens through their turbulent changes and decisions.  We can be effective sounding boards and encourage our teens to hear from the Lord themselves.  I have learnt to answer their deep and probing questions with, “What does your own heart tell you?”

Prompt … Someone who knows the script is standing ready to whisper the forgotten lines or cues to an actor who may flounder on stage.  We back up our teens with prompts to prepare for exams, take the time to help them practice skills needed such as driving lessons, or preparing for job interviews.  We back them up and champion them in their endeavours.  They should always know that we are there for them unconditionally.

Props … all those items needed to set a scene or provide reality to the acting.  We should provide the opportunity for teens to shine in their own abilities, to discover their talents and passions.  Give teens real life skills and provide the necessary materials, lessons, experiences, and opportunities.  Give teens the tools to learn to bake or build a computer, start an online business or venture into an entrepreneur projects, learn to drive a car or sew with a overlocker … these are valuable skills and experiences that can open options for a job or a career.

Our children are the stars of their own lives.  Homeschooling teens is sometimes challenging, yet absolutely amazing!  I stand in awe of who my young adults are becoming!  They are emerging and developing into beautiful young women!

I am so grateful for the mentorship of fellow veteran homeschoolers, dear personal friends, as well as wisdom gained from those who share with others via the Internet.   What advice can you give parents of teens and young adults as move towards independence?

In Grace, Nadene

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Ultimate Goal is Independence

Revisiting posts from my archives ~

When I started out as a new mom, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous responsibility of raising such a needy, weak and fragile baby.  I remember thinking, one sleep-deprived night, while breastfeeding my baby, “If I can just make it through tomorrow …”

https://i1.wp.com/www.oceansbridge.com/paintings/artists/recently-added/mary-cassatt/big/Mary_Cassatt_xx_Mother_Jeanne_Nursing_Her_Baby_1907-1908.jpg

Goals were short back then – just to sleep through one night, introducing solid foods, potty training …

Once, when I consulted a mentor, she lovingly told me, “Little children, little problems.  Big children, big problems.” 

And it turns out she is right.   Sleepless nights, endless interruptions, toddler messes and wet beds cannot compare to the bigger issues we face as our children grow up and become independent.

When my first baby hit her Terrific Twos  (I don’t believe in the “terrible twos”), this amazing little person started to say, “I do it myself“, the glimmer of the ultimate goal emerged – Yes! Ultimately I will not be needed and she will do it all by herself.

Homeschool moms are full-time, they are everything for their children, but while this may seem overwhelming when raising little ones, things change as children mature, and goals shift.

https://i2.wp.com/www.oceansbridge.com/paintings/artists/recently-added/mary-cassatt/big/Mary_Cassatt_xx_Mother_Berthe_Holding_Her_Baby_1900.jpg

As I sit for months and months with my child partner reading, I know that she will eventually read fluently and become independent.  Maths drills and handwriting exercises will fall away as they mature into middle and high school grades and those foundation lessons seamlessly grow into these new, complex activities.

May I humbly suggest you ~

Enjoy these intimate moments.

Love these shared lessons.

Savour your young child’s need of you.

Kiss and cuddle as much as you can!http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_CvDCiEFbNy8/TE1Q46SBc7I/AAAAAAAAU9Y/_Q891l5Lymk/s1600/Mary+Cassatt+(1844-1926).++A+Kiss+for+Baby+Anne+c+1897.jpg

Have fun!

Find joy in newness and discovery with them.

Make every moment matter.

Live without regrets, loving your child in all their love languages!

All too soon, your toddler is that tall teenager, frequently opening the fridge door to make his own snacks!  In a flash, you will find yourself standing with your 16 year-old while she applies for her own ID documents, or wait while your son completes his driver’s license. Or pray as your young adult starts his first full-time job.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_CvDCiEFbNy8/TITUtClhOqI/AAAAAAAAX4M/jDzXfkomxuw/s1600/Mary+Cassatt+(1844-1926).+Mother+and+Sara+Admiring+the+Baby+(2).jpg

And then they are grown up.  Almost. Independent.

I find myself needing more time with my 16 year-old.  There are so many things I want to share with her, so many areas of her life that I feel she needs to prepare for. 

I’m not ready for her to be independent.  Although she demonstrates such amazing skills and readiness to meet the adult world, she still needs more time to become more independent.

https://i2.wp.com/www.artgraphica.net/images/impressionists/cassatt0011.jpg

And humbly I realize that I may I not be the one to do all the rest.  I pray she finds great spiritual mentors, loving and caring adults and friends who will walk with her in grace and truth as she enters adulthood and independence.

Parenting is truly done on the knees.  Praying.

And that never ends.

Blessings,

(Featuring Mary Cassatt’s beautiful art work of mothers and babies.)

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A Sacred Task

Charlotte Mason’s principles challenges me. When I read her chapter on Sacredness of Personality, these words jumped out ~https://i2.wp.com/www.classroom-teacher-resources.com/image-files/classroom-discipline-holding-hands.jpg

“Parents look on with a smile and think that all is well; but Bob or Mary is losing that growing time which should make a self-dependent, self-ordered person, and is day by day becoming a parasite who can go only as he is carried, the easy prey of fanatic or demagogue. 

This sort of encroachment upon the love of children offers as a motive, ‘do this for my sake’; wrong is to be avoided lest it grieve the teacher, good is to be done to pleasure him; for this end a boy learns his lessons, behaves properly, shows good will, produces a whole catalogue of schoolboy virtues and yet his character is being undermined.

https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/handholdingparentchild.jpgA due respect for the personality of children and a dread of making them incompetent to conduct their own lives will make us chary of employing a means so dangerous, no matter how good the immediate end.”

No parent sets out to create incompetent, parasitic and weak children who live their lives in shameful helplessness, inadequacy and co-dependency.

Intentional parenting motivates the child to grow into meaningful independence and responsibility.

As our eldest daughter completes her schooling this year, and our second eldest son plans for his marriage towards the end of the September, they want to be equipped and ready.  It is a joy to see them becoming self-determined and responsible.

Our parenting should provide the essential structures and routines, some basic rules and disciplines, and mixed in it all, grace, love and assistance.

Let me go back to when they were young and innocent. I remember giving my toddler choices.  My options, but she could chose in them, and the outcome was the one I wanted e.g.: ~ “We are going to bath, brush teeth (…insert your activities…) and then read a story.  Which story do you want to hear tonight?  This one or this one?  Great!  Quickly now, let’s …”

This approach works well with young homeschoolers too.  Our read aloud time is our “together” time and we usually do all the disciplined studies before morning tea so that we can enjoy our reading and hands-on activities.  When the child is given some choices in these activities, they do not resist and mope when lessons are short and sweet. (Thank you Charlotte Mason, for this lovely principle.)

Homeschooling a high schooler is slightly different.  They want to work independently.  The best tools for them is the year plan/ overview, a calendar and a weekly schedule or timetable.  We work out how many lessons per week, how many hours that requires, and they can tick the plan off as they go.  Both my highschoolers work to try finish and write off a subject by completing the work and the tests/ exams.  They ask me to tutor them. We book our time together and I enjoy the moments working side-by-side.

All too soon, it will pass and my role with them will change.

My parenting will be worthy if my children grow up to ~

  • love the Lord, His Word and His Ways
  • make good choices; in serving others, in excellence,
  • have an ethic that values hard work and diligence
  • form and maintain sincere and sound relationships with others
  • respect themselves and those in authority,  and be worthy of respect
  • persevere and endure even when it gets tough
  • be themselves, unique, creative, sincere
  • be faithful to the Lord’s gifting and purpose for their lives

So this is a “sacred” task.

How do you find your homeschooling and parenting sacred?

Blessings,

Ultimate Goal = Independence

When I started out as a new mom, I was overwhelmed by the tremendous responsibility of raising such a needy, weak and fragile baby.  I remember thinking, one sleep-deprived night, while breastfeeding my baby, “If I can just make it through tomorrow …”

https://i1.wp.com/www.oceansbridge.com/paintings/artists/recently-added/mary-cassatt/big/Mary_Cassatt_xx_Mother_Jeanne_Nursing_Her_Baby_1907-1908.jpg

Goals were short back then – just to sleep through one night, introducing solid foods, potty training …

Once, when I consulted a mentor, she lovingly told me, “Little children, little problems.  Big children, big problems.” 

And it turns out she is right.   Sleepless nights, endless interruptions, toddler messes and wet beds cannot compare to the bigger issues we face as our children grow up and become independent.

When my first baby hit her Terrific Twos  (I don’t believe in the “terrible twos”), this amazing little person started to say, “I do it myself“, the glimmer of the ultimate goal emerged – Yes! Ultimately I will not be needed and she will do it all by herself.

Homeschool moms are full-time, they are everything for their children, but while this may seem overwhelming when raising little ones, things change as children mature, and goals alter.

https://i2.wp.com/www.oceansbridge.com/paintings/artists/recently-added/mary-cassatt/big/Mary_Cassatt_xx_Mother_Berthe_Holding_Her_Baby_1900.jpg

As I sit for months and months with my child partner reading, I know that she will eventually read fluently and become independent.  Maths drills and handwriting exercises will fall away as they mature into middle and high school grades and those foundation lessons seamlessly grow into these new, complex activities.

May I humbly suggest you ~

Enjoy these intimate moments.

Love these shared lessons.

Savour your young child’s need of you.

Kiss and cuddle as much as you can!http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_CvDCiEFbNy8/TE1Q46SBc7I/AAAAAAAAU9Y/_Q891l5Lymk/s1600/Mary+Cassatt+(1844-1926).++A+Kiss+for+Baby+Anne+c+1897.jpg

Have fun!

Find joy in newness and discovery with them.

Make every moment matter.

Live without regrets, loving your child in all their love languages!

All too soon, your toddler is that tall teenager, frequently opening the fridge door to make his own snacks!  In a flash, you will find yourself standing with your 16 year-old while she applies for her own ID documents, or wait while your son completes his driver’s license. Or pray as your young adult starts his first full-time job.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_CvDCiEFbNy8/TITUtClhOqI/AAAAAAAAX4M/jDzXfkomxuw/s1600/Mary+Cassatt+(1844-1926).+Mother+and+Sara+Admiring+the+Baby+(2).jpg

And then they are grown up.  Almost. Independent.

I find myself needing more time with my 16 year-old.  There are so many things I want to share with her, so many areas of her life that I feel she needs to prepare for. 

I’m not ready for her to be independent.  Although she demonstrates such amazing skills and readiness to meet the adult world, she still needs more time to become more independent.

https://i2.wp.com/www.artgraphica.net/images/impressionists/cassatt0011.jpg

And humbly I realize that I may I not be the one to do all the rest.  I pray she finds great spiritual mentors, loving and caring adults and friends who will walk with her in grace and truth as she enters adulthood and independence.

Parenting is truly done on the knees.  Praying.

And that never ends.

Blessings,

(Featuring Mary Cassatt’s beautiful art work of mothers and babies.)