By now, a lot of the summer "busy-ness" is winding down. After all, school starts in a few weeks for most of us.
I wanted to review a few things that you can do with your kids to get them back into a learning mindset. If you've been following me "live" every day on Facebook, you may have heard me discuss some of these issues in recent weeks.
(1) Math Brain
With few exceptions, most parents (unless they are PrepWell Parents) report that their kids have not done one ounce of "math work" this summer. I don't like this one bit. It's important that students keep up some level of engagement with math so that they are not starting next year from ground zero. Teachers confess that the first 3-4 months of the school year is spent reviewing last year's material in order to get kids' brains back in order.
Solution: Encourage your child to create a Khan Academy account (if they don't have one already) and work through the modules until they have achieved 100% mastery of last year's...
From Middle School to High School
Many cultures, religions, and social groups mark the transition from middle school to high school with some type of event, celebration, or activity.
For my two sons, I decided to make up my own transition event. I wanted it to be fun, significant, and memorable.
The Search for Advice
I started by soliciting advice from trusted friends and family members about their personal experiences with this transition as well as anything they learned from ushering their own children through this phase of life.
I received a ton of exceptional advice.
The hard part was parsing it down into something that was accessible and not overwhelming.
I boiled down pages of input into 11 Key Words. These words, in my opinion, represent some of the most important aspects of life that a rising high schooler will face.
There are no right or wrong answers to this puzzle, but here are my 11 Key Words:
Summer: A Terrible Thing to Waste
Does your child have a plan for the summer?
Summer is one of the most important and often underutilized blocks of time in a teen's life. With few mandatory school commitments, the possibilities for growth and life experience are endless.
Unfortunately, end-of-school fatigue and the allure of "time off" can overwhelm even the most well-intentioned parent and child. Snap your fingers and "poof" - it's September!
One of the most important skills a teen can learn is how to think about the future (vision), how to plan for the future (preparation), and how to follow-through on a plan (execute). This skill will be repeated hundreds of times over their lifetime.
The skill is known as goal-setting - and should be taught and practiced sooner rather than later.
Summer is the perfect time and duration to practice this skill.
What We Teach
PrepWell Academy's Lesson (Week 2) is all about goal-setting. I challenge students to not only ...
These days, connecting with admissions officers, coaches, and potential employers via Skype (or FaceTime) is becoming more and more common.
Video interviewing represents a new "life skill" that high schoolers should embrace and practice sooner rather than later.
Most of my mentoring sessions with PrepWell students are held via Skype (or FaceTime) to maximize efficiency.
Not only does this help me stay in touch with them, but it allows them to practice this important skill in a non-intimidating setting.
I'd rather that they learn and make mistakes with me, than with a college admissions officer, coach, or potential employer. I'm their mentor and part of my role is to provide praise and constructive criticism where appropriate.
I even mentor my own children via Skype when we are in the same house.
PREPARATION STILL WINS THE DAY
Just because an interview is conducted remotely, doesn't mean it's any less important. First impressions count whether in-person or online.
Summer is a few weeks away. Does your child have a plan?
Within PrepWell Academy, I spend significant time helping students plan their summers. This entails several weeks of advice, recommended websites, prompts for self-reflection, and interest inventories.
Why are summers so important?
If you would like your child to get the full playbook on these options and their pros and cons, enroll them in PrepWell Academy.
I do have a general recommendation, however, that applies to all high school students.
Have your child pursue a "sweet and sour" summer. That is, 50% sweet (or fun) and 50% sour (or hard). I'm sure they will have plenty of ideas for the sweet part.
For the sour part, they get to pick from these options:
My wife and I understand the importance of chores. They teach responsibility, accountability, discipline, pre-planning, and the value of money.
Our four children, apparently, never got the memo.
We have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to create a chore system that works. Each attempt has gotten progressively more serious.
The length of this email is reflective of the months it took us to get it right. If you value chores - but haven't quite cracked the code - it may be worth the read.
In military terms, we have now reached DEFCON 2 (Defense Condition 2: one step before maximum readiness for nuclear war).
Here is our journey to the brink of a nuclear chore war:
DEFCON 5 (lowest state of readiness): Just Tell Them
At first, we just told our kids what their chores were and expected them to do them. What a rookie mistake. Who were we kidding? It was a disaster. They claimed they didn't know what to do, wondered why they had to do X when their brother could do Y, insisted they...
In case you haven't heard, the NCAA just passed a proposal that would eliminate recruiting in high school lacrosse until September 1 of a student's junior year. The proposal hasn't been officially adopted yet, but most people say it will pass.
Yes, feel free to take a long, drawn-out, sigh of relief. You deserve it!
For those who don't appreciate this development, here's what's been going on:
Top college lacrosse programs have increasingly been making verbal "offers" to kids while they are still in 8th grade. I won't get into how messy this has made the recruiting process for all involved. I'm sure you can imagine the pressure, anxiety, and craziness that this has wrought for coaches, parents, and students.
Assuming the proposal passes, here's how things will likely change:
This is a big bonus for them. They didn't like this process either. They didn't enjoy having to keep track of middle school prospects. It was like a lottery, where coaches had to...
Role-playing can be a great way to teach kids how to deal with uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) situations.
For instance, consider the conditions surrounding a teenager when it comes to drinking alcohol for the first time.
Typically, this scenario plays out at a friend's house with a small group of friends or teammates. One of the kids has access to alcohol and suggests that they "try it".
If your son or daughter is part of the group, the pressure to conform can be daunting.
To prepare my kids for this scenario, I role-play with them.
Scenario #1: Sneaking alcohol
Teammate: "Hey, wanna try some beer? I took some from the garage. My parents have no clue."
Your child (reluctantly): "I'm not sure. I haven't ever tried it."
Teammate: "Dude, so what. Everyone has to start sometime. Try it..."
Your child: "Nah, no thanks."
Teammate: "Dude, what's the big deal? Just take a sip. It's not going to kill you. I do it all the time."
Your child: "I don't want to barf, man."
In addition to last week's question regarding How do I build a list of colleges? the next biggest challenge I hear from parents (and kids) seems to be:
"What should my child do this summer?"
Of course, the standard, generic advice is:
I like to provide more unconventional advice to my PrepWellers.
Cast a Wide Summer Shadow
If your child wants a unique summer experience, encourage them to "shadow" as many people in as many careers as possible.
These days, kids have no clue what people do at their jobs.
They see people rush into buildings, shuffle around the streets with their Starbucks coffee, and sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway.
What happens the other 97% of the time?
My 8th-grade son is obsessed with the question:
"Dad, what do people do all day at work?"
He is fascinated by the whole concept.
Unfortunately, I haven't the foggiest idea what to tell him.
I haven't had a conventional job for many years so I find it difficult to...
By the time your child gets to high school, they should be completely self-sufficient when it comes to homework.
This skill comes more naturally to some children than to others (first-born children seem to "get-it" a little sooner than second or third, for instance).
As parents, it's our responsibility to ensure they have this skill mastered by the time they reach 9th grade.
Consider these factors when helping your child build this important habit:
Same time: Establish a specific time to complete homework and stick to it. Ideally, this would be right after school and prior to sports, social activities, and entertainment. My favorite quote is "Do the hard stuff first".
Same place: Identify a place for homework and make it the same spot every time. (e.g. kitchen table, bedroom, home office, Starbucks, etc.)
Clutter free: Clear the workspace of non-homework related items - even if it means moving items into a different room temporarily during homework time. The fewer things on the desk...