Parenting a Teenager 101

By Catherine Powell, Learning Support Specialist

All children are different; they learn in different styles and different rates. Their brains are still developing, and will still be till their early 20s. I have two boys, and they were very different from each other. My older son would come home, and all he wanted to do was play. He did not want to do his homework, or read a book. He just wanted to go outside and play. He was a challenge for me. So, I went to the school, and got a lot of suggestions on how to work with my son. They gave me some ideas back then, and I’ll share them with you.

Timing is Everything!

There were times when I felt I would pull my hair out, and be frustrated as a parent. I would ask my son, “Do you have homework?” He would reply, “No! I don’t have any.” But I knew that he did, or he’d say, “Oh, I finished my homework at school.” This might be a familiar situation for a lot of parents. A lot of times our kids are just overwhelmed, which is something I have realized from experience, and with my son. By the time I realized that he was struggling so much, he was frustrated and had given up. And that daily struggle even affected my relationship with my son. So I received a book titled, Homework Without Tears by Lee Canter. And what this book says that instead of asking your child, “Do you have homework?” it says you must set a specific time for homework. This is a workable first step.

Signs to Watch Out For

One of the things that is often highlighted in discussions about children’s academic performance is behaviors to watch for. When they start to get overwhelmed, they stop doing their homework. You might start to see a lack of performance in their grades. You might see that they are no longer motivated. You might see frustration while they are trying to do their homework. So a set time may help deal with some of these issues.

It is also important to create a study plan. While doing so, one of the things to consider is the place where a student is working. And if the student is struggling, perhaps he/she needs, what we call, a public space, for instance the kitchen table. Then once the study plan – hourly schedule after a school day – is made, it would be useful to post it where every family member can see it. This then becomes the routine, an expectation rather than asking the student everyday, “Do you have homework?”

For instance if you have set aside a 2-hour block of time for homework, the expectation is that you are doing your homework, or that you are doing other school-related work in that set time, such as revising new vocabulary learned in the day. Students could be reviewing their class notes, or checking their school planner for upcoming project or assignment deadlines. The school planner has a lot of useful information for students and parents, such as the IB approaches to learning and learner profiles, as well as the academic calendar. It is also a good communication tool. Parents can look at the planner with their child and talk about their projects and assignments. It is also important that children follow an end-day routine, which includes getting their planner signed by parents, especially in grades 6 and 7. They should also check to ensure their backpacks have everything they need for the next day. This is a good visual reminder for students and parents and demands organization. Students struggle with organization at this age and we can give them the tools to support them.

Supporting Your Child

Parents can also speak to their children about time management as you look through the school planner, and discuss upcoming assignments and projects. Parents can also encourage children to approach relevant teachers if they need more help. Children can often be apprehensive to approach teachers, but parents can continue to encourage them to do so, if not in person then via email. And I would also emphasize that we should refrain from rescuing our children too much. They must learn to fall down, and pick themselves up. If we rescue them every time, they will not learn that important skill. A good question you can ask them if they are facing a difficult situation is, “What can you do about that?” You can come up with ideas together with your child to solve the problem they are facing, but also letting them choose their solution.

Here is the study plan for Keystone’s residential students:


KAP activities. Teachers may also be available in their classroom, and students are free to approach them






Room Inspection and phone collection


Supervised study in the dorm or library


Get ready for bed


Turn in all technology


Lights out

One element I would like to emphasize is the routine phone collection we follow before study time. It is important that students are not distracted with phone alerts, texts and messages during homework time. You can follow this procedure at home too. You can insert this step into your individual study plans at home. Students get plenty of support at school in addition to support they get from parents, which includes academic advisors, teachers, grade-level leaders, counselor, learning support staff, and others. Together students will get all the support they need to flourish academically and socially.

Posted by steven on Friday December, 11, 2015 at 01:00PM


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