Because I work so closely with my youngest grandson on his daily homework assignments and on his test preparation, I am always on the lookout for books like Rebecca Deurlein’s Teenagers 101. In this case, it was the book’s more descriptive subtitle that grabbed my attention: “What a Top Teacher Wishes You Knew about Helping Your Kid Succeed.” My grandson has a variety of learning disabilities that frustrate his efforts, so keeping him properly motivated is a big part of helping him succeed with his school work.
Teenagers 101, though, is not just aimed at parents of children who are struggling with their school work. Much of the book, in fact, is aimed at parents whose children are doing better than most of their peers, those kids who take Pre-AP and AP classes and cannot imagine a future for themselves that does not include at least four years of secondary education. Deurlein’s advice regarding motivating your particular student, however, applies equally well to students at both ends of the spectrum.
And, if you in your role of parent or grandparent, need a little motivation to remain, or to become, active in helping your student succeed, Deurlein offers these two reminders of just how important that role is:
· “How you respond to your children’s actions, and what consequences they face as a result of their behavior will determine, almost entirely, their future behavior.”
· “Every kid does something well. Our job is to notice when that happens and use it as a tool of encouragement that will prod children to work harder next time.”
Deurlein, however, is quick to point out where your role as mentor begins and where it ends. Too many parents make the mistake of “editing” student homework to the point that it becomes more the work of the parent than that of the student – and no one, including the student, is fooled. Consequently, the author devotes an entire chapter to “knowing when to back off” and letting your teen assume responsibility for his day-to-day education, a process that should be well in place by the time they start high school.
Along the way, there are chapters on a diverse set of topics, such as: the advantages of allowing your children to take advanced classes; organizational skills; teaching children to “dress for success;” determining if your student is “college bound;” building self-esteem in children; and how to effectively work with your child’s teachers. Keep in mind that Teenagers 101 was written by an experienced high school teacher, someone who has probably seen it all by this stage in her career. She has a good idea of what works and what does not work.
If you are looking for some motivational tips or for something to explain what your child might be going through, Teenagers 101 is a good place to start.