I have no problem admitting I have three very average teenagers who have little interest in academics. Since they graduated elementary school and entered middle school and junior high it’s been a struggle in every way.
My kids are average students
They hate getting up early and have never been able to get breakfast sown before they leave for school at 7am. Homework is a constant battle and as they’ve gotten older they’ve started lying about how much work they actually have and when it’s due.
Academically, they’ve always done the bare minimum to get by and they live for vacation. Their father and I are constantly on them to get their work done. It’s actually a full time job.
While we understand that not every child learns the same way, and we don’t need our kids to be on the honor roll every quarter, we want them to do their best and to hand in work on time.
They are thriving at home
But something has happened since they have been at home learning online: Their grades have gone up, there’s no complaining about having to do their work, and they seem happier in general.
And I think I know why.
My teens can wake up a little bit later and get something to eat before they start their day, which isn’t something they’ve ever done. In fact, I think we have all come to realize that they do absorb information better when they get more sleep and have something of nutritional value in their stomach.
My daughter admitted that she feels lighter because she can learn without all of the “drama” going on in her classes. Our teens worry about everything, from being called on when they don’t know the answer, to what they look like, to what their classmates are saying about them. Without having to use their brain power on that “other stuff,” it seems like my kids are better able to focus on their work.
It’s also been extremely helpful for them to set their own schedule. I have been letting them do this, but I also remind them that this is not vacation. I expect them to do work every day, during the day, but they can take breaks if they wish.
I think this has taken the pressure off because they know they have space to get outside and shoot hoops, take a longer lunch break, or just give their brain a rest if they are feeling frustrated or stuck.
I’m not the only one who has seen my kids thrive online. Grown and Flown talked with some of our readers who told us that online learning is working for their kids too.
Parents agree that online learning is working well
Carolyn, G., a mother of teenagers says, “Grades are up. Stress is gone. Sleeping and eating well again. It’s all good here!”
Lauren H. who is a mother of two reports that once her kids worked out the kinks, they started thriving. “Both of mine love it. My son is self motivated and more introverted – he’s just humming along. My daughter was struggling with 6th grade. Two weeks in she’s happy again. Laughing, smiling, playing tricks. She says she’s not missing 6th grade one bit.”
Cecilia T., says her son loves the flexibility, “With a much less frenetic pace and more free time my son now actually has the energy and mental space to explore and do things he otherwise couldn’t – he’s writing up a business plan for a new idea and back to reading for himself and teaching himself piano. Teachers are more flexible and his art teacher is allowing him to pursue the project that he wants instead of the one she’d originally set out for everyone.
He likes the greater autonomy to go at his own pace, teach himself more deeply in the subjects he loves, and not follow a one-size-fits-all environment. I think what’s different is that while the school was always caring, this time they truly are walking the talk in terms of prioritizing the kids’ mental health.”
Kristen O. says being less stressed is helping her daughter, “My high school sophomore seems to be thriving. She writes her to do list before bed. She sleeps until she wakes up generally, but has asked me to wake her up if she doesn’t get up by 9:30 am. In general she seems less stressed.”
Lisa K., admits that she didn’t know how much the drama was weighing on her daughter,”My high school sophomore and college freshman are doing great. My sophomore is actually very happy just being away from the drama of high school!”
Of course we all want things to go back to normal as soon as possible. Our kids’ routines and mental health are extremely important. But it’s nice to know that for some families, there is something positive coming out of the fact we are forced to stay at home.
We also recognize that not every student is thriving at home but teachers are doing such an amazing job and we are so thankful for them.
Learning is going to play a huge part in our children’s futures. If this virus teaches us that our kids need proper rest, nutrition, autonomy to set their own schedules and the ability to take breaks in order to be most productive, then it is a lesson well-learned.
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating these small victories because they are so needed right now.
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