A Parent’s Guide To Talking Differently About School In 2020
The way your teen feels about school can be a mystery. Shape the conversation this year by infusing these 9 ideas.
What’s in a mind? Everything.
It doesn’t matter if your resolutions revolve around health, productivity, or parenting, the gateway to improvement is in the little organ where all good (and bad) ideas sprout.
What’s in your pre-teen or teenager’s mind? Well… we’ll probably never know. And as such, you can’t make resolutions for them. Does that mean they’ll be doomed to repeat the mistakes of 2019?
On the verge of the new year, you can’t vow to change the way kids act in school. But you can resolve to change the way you think, and more importantly, talk about school with your child.
(Act Like) It’s a Two-way Conversation
Listen… do you hear that? The sound of a genuine concern.
It’ll always be easier to color a student’s whines as melodrama. But by walking into every conversation ready to ask one simple follow-up question, you’ll almost always uncover something worthwhile.
Connect Your Work to Their “Work”
You probably have more in common than you realize. Politics, unclear directions, and stressful deadlines are all a part of life as a middle or high schooler.
Rather than asking what they did in school for the 5th time, compare notes on how each of you can better handle the hurdles that arise on a daily basis.
Everyone Is on Your Team
Life is the opposite of a race, and school isn’t about beating out your peers. If students are up against anything, it’s themselves. Self-improvement is the backbone of success. It’s also a habit.
Every student at their school, and any perceived competition is the chance to grow into a well-adjusted human being.
Every Answer Is Right (and Wrong)
From class projects to practicing music to cooking dinner, realizing it’s not black and white will help kids a lot more than thinking there’s “one right answer.” A prime example is the radical differences in education across the globe.
Are they doing it wrong? No. Are we? No.
Build Respect for the “Process”
Would you rather your child leave school with a 4.5 GPA or build the resolve to take on challenges and work through adversity? Changing the way you praise from “how smart they are” to “how hard they worked” builds respect for the process of learning.
A term coined by psychologist Sylvia Rimm, it’s the idea that parents can put off arguments by giving themselves and children the time to think instead of going on the offensive or defensive.
Put this into your parenting arsenal and watch the lines of communication flow.
Decipher Buzzwords, Don’t Dismiss Them
Common Core is more than just politics and over-testing. It’s an attempt at developing self-sufficient learners whose educational success doesn’t rely strictly on rote memorization. Likewise, growth mindset means teaching kids that effort and determination trumps innate skills.
See through the catchphrases and past the arguments. Ideas are being introduced, and strides are being made to bring learning into the lightning-fast digital age.
Be Prepared (to Avoid Cliches)
What are you going to say to your child’s teacher when you sit down with them or hear from them? How about when you see a good report card? Or a bad one? Maybe things like “I believe in you” or “I know you can do better” come to mind. But you can do better.
Grades are a pivotal point to talk about your child’s effort, and discuss the approaches and habits that work both for them and for you. The same can be said for conferences and parent-teacher dialogue. Determine what you want to know and make it count.
Don’t Settle for “I Can’t”
“I’m not good at math” or “coding is for boys, not for girls” have no business being on your child’s mind. They can learn anything they want and use that knowledge in ways no one’s ever imagined.
You can also push the bounds of “I can’t” in your parenting. There are things as a parent you don’t know you’re capable of. Realizing your capabilities, and helping kids to reach theirs, will make 2020 a turning point for positive communication and healthy growth.
Even if almost everything went right last year, there’s still some wiggle room. It’s more than listening (which is incredibly important) or devoting more time. It’s realizing that as a parent, the things you say and do can have a big effect on your child’s learning.
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