How many of you struggled with homeschooling your teens during the end of the year? School is almost back in session, and families are facing the need to prepare for distance learning in the fall… Whether parents are trying to work from home, or they are keeping the household going while everyone is at home, there is the issue of handling the constant requests for help and interruptions. Let’s face it, right now, parents are wearing many hats, including productive business professional, homeschool teacher, chef and professional cat herder.
What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be the chaotic mess we all experienced in the spring?
Have you ever noticed how a day can just disappear before your eyes if there is no structure or plan in place? Or that you can feel “stuck” or directionless when you don’t spend your days working, at least in part, towards some purpose? This is especially true now after months of stay at home orders, and continued time at home. It is difficult to keep up with a routine if it’s not already established, and when a routine now feels like Groundhog Day, it’s just harder. This new reality is affecting our teens, who feel like their normalcy was taken away, and find refuge in spending hours and hours on their phones or playing video games. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make their day any easier. In fact, all the time spent watching videos and refreshing timelines ends up adding to their discontent and feelings of aimlessness, which only adds to their unhappiness during tough times. So, is there anything we can do about it? Choosing the right summer activities for teens can be the key to find a way out boredom and unhappiness.
Most teens and parents are probably a bit burned out from the transition to online learning. And while it’s great that kids continue to make progress in schooling, spending so much time in front of their computer screens working on worksheets on their own can definitely get a bit boring. We’ve been hearing from parents about their need for creative learning activities for teens, and how incorporating learning into activities like cooking, nature exploration, and even photography or videography, have made a significant positive impact on their teens’ demeanor and outlook on this “at home learning” thing we’re all trying to figure out.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in shutdowns of everything from sports, to schools, to even parks and beaches. The result, a completely unstructured day for teens and parents alike. One way to help your teens and tweens through this time of uncertainty is to provide them with a more structured day. We could just as easily let time pass by, but it would be too easy to forget to fit in activities that will help us thrive and be better as a result. I’ve seen many new schedules online that are useful for tweens and younger kids, but not many for teens and high schoolers. So I am sharing a suggested quarantine schedule specific for teens to address their different needs for schooling, connections with friends and family, while fostering their independence and encouraging them to build new life skills.
Like in most school systems around the U.S., we are looking at a minimum of four weeks of school cancellations. That has left parents all around looking for activities for teens during the coronavirus quarantine, to hopefully make the best of it. In our own house, we’re trying to turn this from a time of stress and anxiety into one of positive results. Beyond the conversations, knowing that this has become a very extended break with lots of restrictions on free time, we’re facing different challenges with our teens. While teens may be more self sufficient than if we had younger kids at home, they also see days disappear behind Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. It’s an interesting balance between using the time wisely so they’re not rusty when it’s time to go back to school, and not putting them on a work schedule like an adult.
Building the right habits and plans for goal setting can be totally overwhelming for anyone, but especially for teens. In our role as parents, we want to encourage our teens to be independent while they work on the life skills they will need for everything in the future: planning, prioritizing, self-accountability. But when it comes to setting goals, all of us could use extra support. The best way to help teens with their goals is to give them specific steps that they can follow easily and significantly increase their chances of success!
Studies have shown a significant increase in the chances of success when you write down goals, but then even more when you share your goals and commit to weekly accountability.
Whether teens realize it or not, they set goals every single day. From going to the movies with their friends, to planning a school project, to getting in some extra workouts to try out for the varsity team. The question is, do they know they’re doing this, and do they know how to do it in a way that actually helps them achieve their goal. So, you might be thinking, how can I help my teen set goals effectively, and help them improve their chances of success?
As adults, we understand that goal setting is an important life skill that can make your days productive and build your confidence as you make progress towards your goals. We hear stories all the time about successful people, and how they regularly set goals. And we would love it if our own kids would “get it” and see how important it is to set goals effectively.
Has your teen ever had a big science project or paper to submit at school, assigned at the beginning of the semester and they somehow forget to work on it at all until one or two days before it was due? How did that go? A little crazed, rushed, and probably with not great results, am I right?
How could that been different? Well, one way to make sure that your teen to make progress towards an end goal in a way that is more efficient, is to make it measurable.
Does your teen seems to always get stuck not knowing where to start, no matter what small or big goal they are trying to achieve?
Living spontaneously and in the moment is a great thing. But it’s not great if you end up spinning your wheels because you don’t even know where to start.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Teens have SO much going on! So much earlier than we had to. College prep, varsity sports, volunteer work/community service, the list goes on and on. They will need to build some pretty solid planning skills and habits to get through all of it.
So what’s the key? Goals have to be actionable. That is the only way to make sure they will know what steps to take, and don’t waste valuable time spinning their wheels.
Does your teen really have time for all those activities? Or, are they totally overscheduled? Or is it a combination of too much to do, but also way too much time lost to electronics and other distractions? Time management is a constant source of discussions in most homes as we try to teach our teens to take ownership of their own activities and accomplish everything they are trying to do.
I know my teens find it challenging to fit it all in. And as much as we all agree that having downtime is valuable to recharge, sometimes their free time is wasted in things that don’t make them feel rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle school and extracurricular activities. Plus it’s critical for teens to also have downtime that they can count on to relax and recharge.
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