As my children grow older I start to give them more responsibility for their learning – they are more involved in choosing subjects, resources, and settling their routine. They don’t have complete freedom – I still give them boundaries to work within, but those boundaries widen as the years go along. In order to help them transition to being more involved and responsible we have parent-student meetings.
I tend to have two types of ‘meetings’ with my kids – one where we discuss heart issues and one where we discuss the details of their homeschooling. Though these issues over lap – as we are about teaching, training and guiding the whole child not just the intellect – I find relationally they come from different perspectives and look different so I approach them slightly differently.
For this parent-student meeting we are addressing the issues that directly affect their study and focus projects – the things that they spend their time on though it may well include attitudes and habits but it starts with the direction of their studies.
I may use formal language in describing this time – it is a meeting, I have done research, we set goals etc, but reality is that it is a relational time. I want my teens to know that I am on their side, that I want them to succeed, that I respect their feelings and how they understand themselves. I also want them to know that I know more about the world than they do, and that my knowledge and experience is at their disposal. So this ‘meeting’ is really just a catch up – a heart to heart talk, but mostly with clear goals and fresh focus being the outcome.
Before such a meeting can take place I need to do some ‘research’. For the parent research involves prayer, observation, talking to our spouse, reading and taking notes. I like to get together with my kids having some idea of what areas we need to discuss. Unless my child knows exactly where they are going and what they need to get there, they need me to help them see the wide world, the possibilities and opportunities, and the processes they’ll need to take. Highschool years are about preparing them for the years ahead. This meeting is about plotting their way – I need to have some ideas to discuss with my kids hence my research, but because we are in this together, I need to hold lightly to my ideas until we decide together how we are going to progress.
I also need to give my kids some time to prep themselves as well. Giving them a heads-up is respecting their independence and involvement in their learning and personal growth. So I let the kids know that we need to look at their direction, and set a time. I ask them to gather any ideas they want to talk with me about. Sometimes they raise ideas that need us (either me, or themselves, or us together) to go back and do more research and thinking before we make any clear decisions.
At our meeting we talk about:
- what is going well, and what is not
- our goals – both past, present and future
- ways to meet our current goals; the habits we need to form, and the resources we need to find
I want my kids to be intentional – that is to know where they are going (and why), and to know how they are going to get there. Sometimes it is hard, with teenagers, to see too far ahead – their life is changing so rapidly, so we work with what we’ve got. This is why I have these meetings fairly regularly; we constantly need to be reviewing our goals, tweaking them to fit current vision and opportunities.
As the children grow older our role in their education changes; we are less in charge and more stand with them as partners. We become mentors and facilitators – helping them reach their goals. This can only work as we build on their love of learning and their habit of good character that they have developed over their younger years – it is a progression.
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