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Alicia64

If you could go back in time -- question for parents of older teens

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My twin boys just turned 13 and I'm trying to decide what to emphasize for the coming 8th grade year.

 

I have regrets from their younger years re: what I didn't start them in when they were, say, five or six -- so they couldn't join when I finally did enroll them.

 

Basketball is one example. I thought it was odd to pay a lot of money for five years olds to take basketball classes. But when I put them in basketball at 11 -- they were totally behind! Something similar happened w/ tennis. I also wish I'd started them on Spanish sooner.

 

Here's what they do:

 

Math Mammoth with dh.

One son goes to a physics class each week.

Grammar

Spelling

Spanish: Duolingo and a workbook: Practice Makes Perfect.

One son does piano and theater.

Story of the World

Writing exercises from Brave Writer -- we don't spend a lot of time writing which worries me. When I push them, they're decent.

We travel a lot.

 

Question: What do you wish you'd emphasized -- if you could go back in time -- with your 13 year olds? I'm interested in all kinds of feedback: do you wish you'd taught them more about cooking? Wish they were responsible for cooking one night a week? Instilled stronger habits about cleaning the bathroom? Washing the car? Had them watch weekly movies in Spanish? Read harder books? Played piano at the local assisted care living home (my latest idea)? Do you wish they'd taken a yearly CPR or First Aid class? Do you wish you'd put them in Boy Scouts?

 

I'd love to hear ideas from parents of older teens. And please don't write saying, "you can't push teens to do anything." I'm talking more about strongly suggesting ideas to them. For example, if they truly don't want to do Boy Scouts: they won't. But I can insist on a CPR class. They very much want to homeschool and are willing to work with me on ideas and suggestions.

 

Thank you for your ideas!

 

Alley

 

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I believe some things, like sports and dance, are better started later than is typical. Bad habits or technique that were never noticed or corrected in a huge class of 5yos are very difficult to fix later. I would have saved all of the money spent before age 9 or so and used a small portion of that for a few private coaching sessions. So that might not help you now, but if they love basketball and you have the funds, try some private coaching sessions.

 

I wish I had been better about assigning and following up on household jobs. I wish I didn't have to make lists and check everything they did. At ages 20, 16, & 14 they should know what to do and how to do it, but I can't blame them.

 

I also would have had each child begin saving for a car from birth. Seriously! We do not live in an area where they can walk to anything, not even a park, and DH works over an hour away so driving him to work to have an extra car home is not a reasonable option. I have wasted SO MUCH TIME this past year driving around in circles to get everyone where they need and want to be because the oldest doesn't have her own car to get to her jobs.

 

academically, I wish I had ditched co-op sooner. We were spending an entire day traveling and in classes that were of very little value to us. Massive waste of time, money, and energy. But I would sign them up for worthwhile classes, but I will be much more selective about the overall fit for us.

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Organizational skills. 

 

Academics, ECs, sports, vocational stuff is all easier if you know how to be organized, know how to study, know how to prioritize. 

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I definitely would have focused more on organization skills and household management.

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This may not be the advice you're looking for, but in 8th grade, we seriously begin transitioning to high school schoolwork. 

We BEGIN to ramp up the academics, one subject at a time.

Keeping more official records, scores, paying attention more to establishing a good routine, and good habits (a broad term).

 

Our extracurriculars have a more academic bend, focusing on our sons' skills, passions, and potential future college courses.

We are working toward dual enrollment, the English CLEP, part-time jobs that revolve around tutoring, and establishing good friendship patterns.

We are working toward prepping for the PSAT & ACT, which are gateways to academic scholarships.

All of these things require that you & dh learn what is required for your local situation.

 

Honestly, we can NOT push our teens to do everything--may not even MOST things!
That's the challenge.

We've had to focus on the essentials, focus on our relationship, listen to their passions . . . while preparing them for the challenges of high school & college.

There is not much extra time!

 

(And FYI, we're graduating Child #4 this Saturday, and we're transitioning our Caboose into 9th grade this Fall.)

Honestly, it is a big relief to only have one left, but in hindsight it is a blessing to watch them transition to adulthood.

 

Best wishes!  You are wise to ask the Hive for advice now.

 

ETA:  I just realized I gave "what we've done" advice, rather than "what I wish we'd done".  I wish I could have gotten them to do more academics, more household chores, more extracurriculars, and more fun stuff.  Everything!  Time (& the child's desire) will always be limitations. ;)

Edited by Beth S
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Looking back, all I would do differently is to make more time, show more affection, and give them MORE HUGS. The rest is just noise.

 

 

 

Note to self: hug the older boy today.  :crying:

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Played piano at the local assisted care living home (my latest idea)?

I don't have much for you because GW and Geezle are on different paths and T is about a month older than your boys, but this caught my eye. Trinqueta has been part of a group of middle school homeschool musicians this year and the opportunity to perform in nursing homes has been awesome. It's just the right amount of motivation. I'd highly recommend making this a part of your son's music education.

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Looking back, all I would do differently is to make more time, show more affection, and give them MORE HUGS. The rest is just noise.

 

 

 

Note to self: hug the older boy today.  :crying:

 

I hear you, Noreen, I really do: I'm in your camp 100 percent. But I missed some important windows to get them involved in stuff they would have liked. And I just would rather not do that for the teen years too.

 

Plus I'd love for them to be good roommates to others and eventually good husbands. I want the to cook and clean up after themselves, do laundry etc.

 

So I'm trying to figure out how to HUG the heck out of them and let them play and still be kids -- and yet use these years wisely. Example: I'm very glad I started one boy in piano at 8. He loves it and it's been good for him.

 

Thank you, everyone, for your organizational skills suggestions!!

 

Alley

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Plus I'd love for them to be good roommates to others and eventually good husbands. I want the to cook and clean up after themselves, do laundry etc.

 

 

I want this, too. So, so, so badly, I do. My problem is that, with all of his medical issues and executive functioning deficits and complete lack of intrinsic motivation, I spent so much time during his teen years trying to *improve* him that I completely forgot to *enjoy/encourage/appreciate/love* him. I screwed up so badly, it hurts my heart.

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I want this, too. So, so, so badly, I do. My problem is that, with all of his medical issues and executive functioning deficits and complete lack of intrinsic motivation, I spent so much time during his teen years trying to *improve* him that I completely forgot to *enjoy/encourage/appreciate/love* him. I screwed up so badly, it hurts my heart.

 

I understand. Remember, your heart was always in the right place.

 

Hugs to you.

 

Alley

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At 13, it would have been nice to start on trade skills or a business, but that was hard to do in increments that worked with our schedule. It would have been helpful for them to do more with bike and lawn mower maintenance, so they understand why car engines need oil and the brakes checked.

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If I could go back in time, I would have been more adamant about daily exercise (as a life skill) and more household chores.  

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Things I did that I'm glad I did: 

organizational skills training -- how that looked in our home: for 8th and 9th grade, I plotted out their homework/school work schedule, as far as what needed done in a specific day, and if needed, even what to work on next each day (one needed that, one didn't). Then in 10th grade I started giving them the week's list at a time and having them help figure out how to get it all done, with assistance from me as needed (and of course I supervised). I showed them how to use a planner, including trying different types until they found a kind that worked for them. By 12th grade, my oldest (he graduates tomorrow) was able to stay completely on top of 3 dual-credit classes at the community college, just by following the syllabus and planning out, himself, when to study for what, when to work on which paper, etc. as well as juggle 3 classes at the co-op we attend and an extra curricular, with none of it falling through the cracks, none of it turned in late, and none of it done sloppily (he will end with As in all his classes this semester). 

 

So, definitely whatever it takes/needs to happen in your home to similarly become even more hands-off with school, so they can manage on their own by the end.

 

We forced each boy to choose one extra curricular, and stick with it for one year. After that, if they didn't want to continue, or wanted to switch to something else, we'd let them. They protested, grudgingly agreed....and stuck with it the 2nd year, happy that we'd made them do so. 

 

We didn't force driving, but let them choose when they're ready for that. 

 

We've always had a "help when asked" approach to chores; I will probably this summer, though, spend some time intentionally teaching them things I should have taught them long ago. Make them all come and work in the kitchen, cooking, loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, really becoming self-sufficient with all of that. We've never spent the time to teach them or required individual chores, so its' just fallen through the cracks. 

 

The one other thing I might do differently -- carefully think about the pros/cons of dual credit classes, AP classes, CLEP tests, etc. On the one hand, cheaper college. Yay! Saves time and money, and a good source of some of the harder high school courses. On the other hand -- for a child who doesn't have a super clear direction, the one downfall is...it saves time. Or rather, once he graduates, if you've done a lot of dual credit classes, he won't need to take his basics in college. Which means, if he doesn't know what he'd like to do, he won't have that year or two years of taking basics + a few courses in potential majors in order to figure out what he wants to do. He'll start college already needing only courses in his major. Which is great if you have a kid who knows what he wants, and saves a ton of money. But is not so great if you have a kid with no idea, who could have used the time in college, sitting in the basic courses with other freshmen, finding his footing and figuring out what he wants. Just another side to consider as you think about those options. 

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Mine are grown and gone from my house...here is what I wish I'd done more of...

 

We would have done fewer team sports and more individual life long sports (tennis, golf, running, yoga) plus more music and academic projects.

 

Emphasized good study habits from a small age....we can all improve there.

 

Hired a tutor to help with high school math or found an excellent math class. Both guys are good at math and we did okay, but they could have been better.

 

Had them do a couple of semester long projects--so they learned to plan and schedule and not procrastinate. For that matter, more dual enrollment classes sooner.

 

We DID teach laundry skills from age 13 on. They were assigned a day of the week to do their laundry and clean their rooms. Laundry got done, but the rooms--yeah, I should have been better at teaching them how to clean and organize.

 

We also taught cooking skills. It really stuck with my youngest--he's a chef now. My oldest would probably starve if he had to cook for himself. Go figure.

 

We also taught automotive care and maintenance--how to change the oil, how to change a tire, etc.

 

They got a lot of pet care opportunities as well as home care and gardening.

 

My youngest had an opportunity to take a public speaking class--it was very good for him. I wish my oldest had done the same.

 

I completely second the idea of more hugs, more love, more laughter together. Time goes SO fast.

 

Edited to add--I wish I'd gotten my guys into martial arts training...I think there are benefits to those classes that spill over into everyday life....perhaps that's wishful thinking on my part.  

 

 

Edited by Happy
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Some of mine are about our faith traditions--I am sorry, I don't remember where you are with that, but I wish I had really listened to their questions and not just fed them the standard stuff, and not relied on Sunday School to teach what I hold as truth.

 

I wish I had taught more cooking, and more "fancy" but actually basic social skills (firm handshake, which fork to use, introductions, even social dance).

 

With one of mine, I wish I had built a relationship that was less about following my shoulds and shouldn'ts and offered more grace. He struggled so much and felt he was different in major, alienating (to him) ways from the rest of us.

 

Tried to rectify some of the mistakes with my girl. What I am finding is it is often ME that needs to grow, so that I can be a better teacher and example, esp bc some things need to be consistently modeled in order to be taught effectively.

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What I wish I had done: established more of a set routine.  We are too busy for a strict schedule, but I went too far in the willy nilly direction.  I also tried to give too much independence too soon.  It's been hard to regroup.

 

What I'm glad I've done: emphasized community service, done my best to facilitate their interests and whims, and did a lot of academic and "extracurricular" nutrition, food systems, and cooking research/practice.  That is, with my 7th and 8th grade dds.  I didn't do nearly as much with my almost 18yo, and he no longer takes my word as gospel  :toetap05: .

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DS is 21.

 

When he was in high school he carried a heavy academic load and swam competitively.  He was very, very busy and I would periodically ask him if he wanted to continue swimming.  He always said yes.  Years later I found out that he kept swimming because he thought that I wanted him to swim.  Despite my best efforts for him to be the one making the decision, he said he wanted to quit long before he actually did. I have no idea how I cold have changed that.  I tried to be very neutral each time I talked to him about it, but apparently not neutral enough. 

 

When he was in college he finally reached out to ask for counseling for his depression. I knew it was there, but I had no idea how bad it really was until he came to me about it.  Again, I had offered several time over the years, but he always said things were ok.  They weren't. 

 

Academically, I wish we would have done a 2nd 8th grade year, instead of moving onto 9th grade.  DS is young for his grade with a summer birthday.  He is very gifted so academically he was always ahead of his peers even with the young b-day.  I think that while he was capable of the Level of work, the pacing of being advanced was hard on him. He started college at 15yo, and was in Chemisty, calculus and other advanced classes. It wasn't that he was pushed to hard too fast, but that by just doing the next thing, that is where he ended up.  This is why I wish we would have taken a year, off of the 'do the next thing' path and did some deeper discovery into his interests. He really needed much more down time than he got at the end of high school and beginning college and emotionally, he wore himself out.  Swimming was good for him, in that it gave him a social outlet, but it was also a huge time commitment. That is why I always let him make the decision.  My ideal 8th grade year, would have put all traditional academic aside and just spent a year following his own interests. We had talked about it, and a few classes we had discussed were Oceanography, Latin, Logic, Physics (discovery based-not just working through a text book, etc.  More of an 'unschooling year' than anything.  

 

 

On the other side of our decisions....ds loves the fact that he is 21, has 2 bachelors degrees, and is 1/3 of the way though his masters.  His plan is to have finished his second masters by the time he is 25/26yo.  His swimming gave him a lot of skills and self confidence. The time when he was depressed, he was able to hit bottom, while still living at home (during early college years), so he was surrounded by love and support.  He was able to face a few demons and put them behind him, which not everyone is able to do. 

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Well, I wish I had screened for LDs earlier, and related, wish I had learned supports for LDs earlier (way, way earlier).

 

But also: wish I had brow-beaten music practice more with DS16. And it would have been good for him to have been in Boy Scouts, because it is a resumé builder.

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With my older kids, I wished I had freed up more time in their schedules for things that they loved - mostly music, robotics, sports.

 

DD15 has the advantage of experienced parents - we give her hours a day to pursue her passions (music, art) along with the tough academics.  She's pretty happy.

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My boys are 14+ and here are some things I did differently with the younger ones:

 

1. Give them more ownership of their education - how I did this depended on each boy's personality, but it was always about making sure they knew that high school wasn't something I was doing to/for them; high school was an investment they were making in their own future - even the ones I didn't homeschool.

 

2. I insisted on some form of "outside learning situation" in which I had zero involvement - it could be performance, athletic, academic, anything. I volunteered all through elementary, and in some cases into middle school, but by late-middle and high school they needed space away from me as a Person In Charge. I had a few in Scouts, all are in competitive sports, and one did marching band. Through this I mentored them on how to handle conflict, disagreement, social politics, etc. without directly involving myself. These are the sort of skills I think are important to know and which are really only learned successfully through experience.

 

3. My eldest is naturally organized. I learned down the line that we had to cover organization as a literal lesson/class. We watched YouTube videos on different organizational systems (e.g., Bullet Journal) and tried a variety of planner types (paper and digital) until finding which one worked for each kid. They had different preferences and needs, and it was important that I respect that rather than expect them to use my system (no matter how wonderful it is - for me!) I expected my 2nd to follow in Eldest's footsteps, and we butted heads when he didn't.  By #3 I realized I had to present organizational skills as a topic of study rather than expect them to have in innately - of my kids, only the first has been naturally inclined towards organization.

 

4. WRT organization, by 9th grade we do "Monday Morning Meetings" -- we take 10 minutes (if we haven't already done so over the weekend) to look at our week and schedule it out. In pencil LOL. Included are school assignments, extra curricular events, social events, chores to be done, etc. Then I review each kid's week with him to be sure it's reasonable, and that they've taken into account my master calendar which hangs in the kitchen and has mandatory family stuff on it (doctor's appointments, siblings' concerts/games, etc.).  Usually by 11th grade we've been able to phase out of me NEEDING to check but so far they've all liked to keep having Monday Morning meetings with me. It might be because I hold these meetings at Starbucks ...!

 

5. Starting with high school I create a syllabus for each class. I'm a very relaxed homeschooler, I don't even do tests or grades before 9th grade. But I have relatives who are professors and junior college adjuncts who let me know where their incoming homeschoolers excel and where they struggle. The syllabus takes more time and effort (though I've lucked into finding a number of great ones online that just need minor tweaking) but lets my students know exactly where they stand and what they need to do.  This helps with #4 and #1 above in that they have the year on paper, in front of them. And it keeps me somewhat on schedule. That's not my strong suit, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.

 

6. I make them go outside every day, rain or shine. I don't care what they do, even if it's sit and read - but I want them in the fresh air, getting some sun. They mostly play, and with each other - which is nice, especially as they get older and start leaving home (good memories, fostering good relationships). It also gives me a break inside the house to regroup and have 30 minutes of blessed silence. I need them to learn how to give people space, they'll be roommates with someone some day!

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To recognize, understand and follow instructions. On products, on assignments, on deadlines. A student who can read well and follow instructions can teach himself anything.

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I also would never have put my older 2 kids (ds's) into organized sports, for a variety of reasons.  I corrected that with my younger 3 kids - never did organized anything, really.

Is there a reason for this that you could share?

 

Lee in New England

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I know you can't force kids to do anything, but you can definitely guide them!!! My oldest is not a teenager anymore, but if I could go back? 1) Homeschool her 2) Faith is important for us- pray the rosary often, take her to Adoration and read more about lives of the Saints 3) Definitely more life skills (the ones you mentioned, cooking dinner often, cleaning bathrooms better) 4) I wouldn't have let her have the cell phone my mom gave her, or mp3 players etc 5) Definitely more visits to nursing places, great idea on the piano!! 6) I'd have persuaded her more NOT to quit piano lessons at 14 7) I'd have encouraged her more to play board games, develop an interest...something!!! Instead of spending so much time in her room and useless time on electronics. A lot of my "would have done" you seem to be covering. Good for you!!!

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Well, this is more of a regret from the toddler/preschool years. I wish that I had more actively trained my kids to be polite and sociable. We're all a bunch of introverts and people interactions are not second nature to us. I remember not wanting to embarrass them by saying aloud, "Say thank you" if they neglected that for instance. I mean I did that a bit, but in hindsight I should have kept on embarrassing them until the behavior became automatic for them. I see the teens that talk naturally and with ease with adults while my kids barely say a word. They do not make a good first impression and can come off as rude though I know it's more awkwardness and unease rather than rudeness. We enjoy them a lot around the house--they just don't express that side very readily to others.

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The one other thing I might do differently -- carefully think about the pros/cons of dual credit classes, AP classes, CLEP tests, etc. On the one hand, cheaper college. Yay! Saves time and money, and a good source of some of the harder high school courses. On the other hand -- for a child who doesn't have a super clear direction, the one downfall is...it saves time. Or rather, once he graduates, if you've done a lot of dual credit classes, he won't need to take his basics in college. Which means, if he doesn't know what he'd like to do, he won't have that year or two years of taking basics + a few courses in potential majors in order to figure out what he wants to do. He'll start college already needing only courses in his major. Which is great if you have a kid who knows what he wants, and saves a ton of money. But is not so great if you have a kid with no idea, who could have used the time in college, sitting in the basic courses with other freshmen, finding his footing and figuring out what he wants. Just another side to consider as you think about those options. 

 

Had to say you just gave me a major lightbulb moment! I'd never even considered this aspect. Now I'm sitting here seriously reconsidering high school goals on a Friday night..... :w00t:  At least she's only in 9th grade! 

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Right now I would just sit and read with him more. And cuddle with him in bed. And hug him. I miss my little boy....

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