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goodbye to elementary school

Goodbye, Elementary School: Honoring the Past and Moving Forward with Joy

(Inside: Today we are saying goodbye to elementary school. Our family’s been there for over a decade. I can’t believe this day is here. )

Today we’re saying goodbye to elementary school.

Our youngest son is wrapping up 5th grade.

We’re saying goodbye to so many memories.

Captain America backpacks and little shoes climbing on the bus.

Unpacking school supplies into small desks and taking pictures of our kids by the locker with their names on it.

Book fairs, ice cream parties, parent meetings, Bingo night, and family dances.

We’re saying goodbye to sifting through the take-home folders stuffed with stars-stamped-on-top papers.

The baggie books brought home to be read three times each to a family member.

Field trips to the Nature Center, Mill City Museum, a local pumpkin patch, Target Field to see their rainwater recycle system, and Mall of America Nickelodeon Universe.

goodbye to elementary school
In middle school, one of our sons did not want to do his schoolwork, and it became a huge source of tension in the home. I didn’t handle the situation perfectly, but I kept trying and finally figured out how to better communicate with my son to where we both felt things were going smoother. Read more in the description here.

We’re saying goodbye to finding a show-and-tell item to tuck into a brown paper bag.

Signing reading logs, checking daily planners, and listening to them practice their recorders.

The Fun Run and Field Day and outdoor recess.

We’re saying goodbye to their projects, like the Living History Museum where they researched someone famous, dressed up like them, and showed off their information board and iMovie in front of tables in the library.

The cute Mother’s Day crafts like the Time Magazine cover where the mom is drawn with lines for hair and big round circles for glasses, and shaky crayon words spell out “Mother of the Year.”

Coasters with their picture decoupaged onto it, crooked mugs shaped out of clay, cards stamped with a heart-shaped print of their overlapping hands, pictures drawn of the family, and square 1 art magnets of their painted masterpiece.

We’re saying goodbye to the Halloween parade with proud kids walking through the halls, showing off their costumes.

Decorated Valentine’s boxes stuffed with cards and candy.

Class parties with rotations of candy corn bingo, bowling in the hall where you have to hand pick up the pins, snowman fingerprint ornaments crafts, and creative snacks like Oreo worm dirt pudding.

We’re saying goodbye to musical performances called things like “Wild Things Zoo Review” where they sang “Never Polka with a Porcupine” and “Raptor Rap.”

Parent-teacher conferences where we look at all the various art projects hung around the room, and we snap a picture of the crest they created representing all the things their classmates should know about them.

And chatting with other parents as we wait in the lobby for our kids at the end of the day.

But mainly we’re saying goodbye to the most wonderful teachers and the best school community.

I’m all nostalgic over here.

I’m not remembering any of the hard stuff.

Instead, I’m just feeling grateful.

For eleven years in a place that nourished and taught my kids well.

Today, we’re saying goodbye…

Then looking ahead…

To so many more great family memories still left to make in whatever the next chapter might bring.

You’re saying goodbye to elementary school and hello to the big kid years. Be encouraged by the full “raising tweens and teens series.”

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.


ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
*400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like

HEARTWARMING STORIES IN RAISING OLDER KIDS
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
To the Mom Who Mourns That Kids Grow Too Fast
Moms of Big Kids, Did You See Your Sacred Moments Today?

goodbye elementary school

Join this community of other moms who have said goodbye to elementary school and hello to so many other new wonderful seasons…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

goodbye to elementary school
goodbye elementary school
quit sports

It’s Okay to Feel Disappointed When Your Kids Quit Sports

Your kid quit sports, and you hate that you feel disappointed. Here are some good things that might come from your kid quitting sports.

Can we talk about parenting disappointment?

I don’t mean the socially acceptable disappointments like binge drinking or wrecking the car or failing classes. I mean times when we HAD A PLAN (a good, thought-out plan) that our kids decided NOT to follow and the disappointment hits unexpectedly (and annoyingly) hard.

My high school-age son quit soccer.

At first, I was okay with it.
 
But then he got asked to play on a just-for-fun winter league with his former team (“wear the red uniforms!”), and when I saw all those boys walk out with the new uniforms and my son wearing last year’s, my stomach twisted into a left-out-knot. Later, I questioned my son’s choice, “Soccer is so fun, why are you quitting?” He wavered but landed on his initial decision.
 
That night, I tucked myself under a blanket of disappointment and stared at the ceiling hating that I felt such big emotions over soccer. Because we’re not supposed to feel disappointed when our kids choose a different path. We remember the “miscarriage” or “hard pregnancy” or “infertility” days, and we know that we’re crazy-lucky to have kids.
 
But, guess what, moms and dads…

Parenting naturally evokes big emotions, and we GET TO FEEL.

We get to feel disappointed because we like sports, played sports, get how it all works, and wanted to share our knowledge with our kids.
 
We get to feel a loss because we loved watching our teens play and hanging out with the other parents.
 
We get to feel sad about not having the car rides home to talk about the game, grab a hamburger, and crank up the music.
 
We get to feel the let-down of not connecting with our kids anymore over something we love.
 
And we get to feel panicked because being a teammate teaches so many great life skills and provides an automatic community, and it seems like they’re going to miss out.
 
About soccer or AP classes or music or whatever that thing that YOU love that your kids are not having right now.
conversation starters teens
Do you want 400+ conversation starters to bring your family closer together? Grab them here.

They’re our feelings, and we get to FEEL all of them. Guilt-free – big emotions are a part of the parenting experience. But then, somewhere in the middle of the heart storm, let’s also remind ourselves of something else: what we KNOW.

God cares about our children way more than we can fully comprehend and is moving in their lives in mighty ways.
 
For example, maybe not playing soccer again will be the best thing that’s ever happened to my son.
 
Maybe the change is because he will meet new friends, perhaps even people he needs to know. (Like my friend who met in high school someone who helped him get into his current profession where he’s thriving.)
 
Maybe the change is because he’s going to get involved in something different and discover new sides of himself. (Like some of my high school students who have quit sports, taken more leadership roles in clubs, and flourished in new ways.)
 
Maybe the change is because he needs to slow down and the break from hurry-hurry is going to do wonders to his mood and attitude.
 
Maybe the change needs to happen for him to gain confidence in making choices and discerning the whispers of God’s voice – all in a low-stakes environment wrapped in the safety of our home.
 
Maybe my teen has learned all he needs to learn from the sport, and it’s time to move on.

So, about those parenting disappointments, I say – feel them.

Feel them deep and hard.
 
Then zoom out.
 
And remind ourselves what we KNOW: we might feel some loss to not connecting with our kids in one of the ways we envisioned, but only a minute’s worth. Because there’s much gain – crazy amounts of gain – in watching our children grow up into their own beautiful selves.

Join this community of moms raising big kids

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms

Read the Full Series on Parenting Tweens and Teens

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler.

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

Raising Tweens and Teens Articles

SCHOOL
Teen, Forget Grades, These Big Reasons are Why You’ll Like Trying Hard in School

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

HEARTWARMING STORIES IN RAISING OLDER KIDS
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
To the Mom Who Mourns That Kids Grow Too Fast

quit sports
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.
teen school

Teen, these big reasons are why you’ll like trying hard in school

Inside: Is your teen struggling in school? This heartfelt explanation could help you explain why school is so important for teens. (And, no, it’s not about the grades.) 

To my teen about school, 

I could see that you felt loved. 

A Chipotle beef burrito bowl does that. Between ‘hurry up the bus is coming’ and ‘did you finish your schoolwork’ and ‘I’m working late tonight,’ it’d been a long week for the entire family. It felt good to share salty chips and queso, then settle in for a family movie. 

As your mom, I love loving you through creating a relaxing Friday evening. I also enjoy showing care through hugs and road trips and birthday cakes and Christmas gifts. It makes me feel good to love you in those ways. 

However, there’s something else that is love that’s not fun.

Lately, we’ve had fewer sweet family moments and more situations where I’m checking your grades and quality of work and making you finish missing homework and redo poorly executed assignments. It hasn’t been a savory Chipotle burrito bowl.  


But, hear my heart… 

I want you to do well in school, not because I don’t think you’re “good enough” and school will validate your worth. No way. I promise – you were good enough the minute you were born. 

Instead, it’s more that I don’t think you see yourself with the same wide-eyed marvel that I do.

You, lovely, you – you’re just what the world needs…your thoughts, your talents, your light. School helps you see your own beauty and gives you tools to walk into adulthood with confidence. 


Let me explain… 

School unlocks your mind.

As you discuss poetry, learn history, ponder literature and graph parabolas, your brain expands and your thoughts deepen and light bulbs turn on. You’ll experience contributing to classroom conversations in meaningful ways, and you’ll continue to discover how bright and clever are. 

School unearths your gifts.

As you join clubs, try out for teams, volunteer for activities and engage in class, you’ll learn what you like, don’t enjoy, and naturally have a knack for. The journey uncovers your strengths and interests, and you’ll start to see arrows pointing to how you might want to use your talents in your big, bright future. It’s exciting. 

Is your teen struggling in school? Here is a tangible way to help. Read more in the description.

School is where you’ll learn to be part of a community.

You’ll meet lots of people, many like you and many not – school is a place to learn about others and share who you are. Your social-skills will sharpen, and you’ll find yourself making friends and feeling connected. I know this area can be tough – but, I promise there are students who need a friend just like you. Your school is so happy to have you.

School is a place to grow believing in yourself.

When you take something hard (a school task) and figure out how to use your resources to conquer it, wow, just wow – it builds your confidence and self-pride in powerful ways. Then one day when a dream swirls in your gut that you have to follow (Start a business! Try a venture!), the confidence you built in school will, often without you even realizing it, accelerate you into taking the first needed step.  

School sharpens your life-skills.

The world needs your talents and your dreams. But a part of effectively sharing those gifts is knowing how to get organized, get stuff done well, be timely and communicate with others. School is a safe place to grow those skills, surrounded by teachers to cheer you on. 

School teaches you to reach for help.

Education isn’t easy: the social scene, curriculum, organization, and deadlines can all be tricky. But, my son, I am here for you. Your whole family is. As so are your teachers and counselors and coaches – they all choose to work with students as a career because they want to support you. In school, the challenges teach you to reach out – we’re all happily waiting. 

And, I could go on and on, because in my 20+ years teaching high school over and over I’ve watched students grow in confidence, skill, wisdom, maturity, joy, and purpose. It makes me proud; students are amazing human beings.  

Is your teen struggling in school? Here is a tangible way to help. Read more in the description.

But education is like a bank, you have to put something into it, to get something out.  

So, we’re going to make some deposits by continually making school a priority. You’ll keep concentrating on completing all of your assignments, turning in quality work, and studying before tests. We’ll focus on effort over grades. And yes, I can imagine – based on past experiences they’ll be some conflict over this, including screen time being taken away – but it won’t be because I don’t love you. 

Quite the opposite. 

It’s because I love you more than anyone else; I will always look at you with star-eyed wonder for the gift that you are. And I will always believe in you – forever. 

Love, Your Mom 

Is your teen struggling in school? Do you need a tangible way to help?

My 13yo struggled 1st quarter, so I figured it was a chance to put my (slightly over-sappy) thoughts together on why I think education is so important, and how it’s not about getting perfect grades.

Thankfully, 2nd quarter was much better because of one simple trick we tried that clicked.

You can read more about that and the sources of the books that helped me the most in the description here. 

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms

Read the full motivate your teen to thrive in school series…

As a high school teacher for over two decades, I love, love, love watching kids learn. It’s okay if there are struggles in their educational journey. Not just okay – normal, even. We just keep stressing the importance of education and giving them the tools for success. And then we encourage our kids and love them well.

I hope you enjoy these articles.

Help Your Teen to Thrive in School Series

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Parents, Help Your Kids Thrive in School By Asking These 4 Questions
Why I’m Not Freaking Out that My Struggling Reader Has Low Reading Scores
A Mom’s 1st Day of School Wishes
Moms, You’ll Better Enjoy the End of the School Year Remembering THIS
*My Teen Was Struggling In School (With Distance/Hybrid Learning), So This Is What I Did

GETTING ORGANIZED
Kid’s Morning Routine Checklist: Get Your Kids Out the Door Happy and On-Time
A Simple Way to Motivate Teens to Be More Responsible

BOOKLISTS
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that Will Also Build Character
Compelling Books that High Schoolers Will Want to Read

motivate teens

A simple way to motivate teens to be more responsible

(Inside: Motivate teens to thrive even when they are tangled in the normal struggles of being a teen. Here’s a simple way to encourage and motivate your teen.)

Are you struggling to daily motivate your tween or teen? 

The milk sits out – again. The clothes are scattered across the bathroom floor – again. The online grade book displays a zero – again.  

It’s frustrating because you know the things your tween/teen is choosing to neglect will always be a normal part of a human being’s daily responsibilities: your kids will forever have to pick up after themselves, complete work for their career, and file their taxes. It’s important they learn to complete responsibilities even when they don’t feel like it now. Grit is a valuable life skill. 

Yet, in trying to teach this, you hate how much it feels like you’re fussing at your tween/teen. And you see your child not responding – the approach isn’t working.   

I hear you. I’ve been there too.  

I had such a discouraging parenting season with my middle schooler, I checked out a stack of parenting books and plowed through. My solution ended up being super simple. I’ll save you the reading… 

 

motivate teens
Grab the checklist here.

Motivate teens: recognize the root of the conflict

It wasn’t that my 13yo didn’t know what to do, but rather, that we were like passing ships when it came to me sharing daily expectations and my teen expressing what best sets him up for success. We needed to figure out a better way to communicate.

Motivate teens: operate from a place of hope

Also, I needed to adjust my attitude. Before I even approached my teen, I reflected on what I know from 20+ years of teaching high school: teens want to thrive. They do. 100%. They just can get lost in peer pressure and hormones and impulsive decisions and procrastination and shutting down. I knew my son wanted to succeed, so I shifted my temperament and chose to operate from a place of hope. 

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens: get monthly inspiration here.

Motivate teens: try a new approach to communication

My son and I agreed that things needed to change, already a hopeful start. So, I asked him to list his daily responsibilities. We examined his agenda and made some adjustments.

We then decided our communication would be through the list: he checks off the tasks as he completes them and that’s how I see his progress. We’d discuss any issues at the end of the day. One time. That’s it.  We’d set up a routine, boundaries, and a new form of communication – things were already looking up.

Motivate teens: honor the boundaries you just set up by sticking to them

And because I really needed this checklist to work, I listened to what the parenting books1 said about the importance of setting up routines and boundaries, then honoring them by sticking to them. You hold those boundaries using what Dr. Henry Could and Dr. John Townsend call “reality consequences.” (Boundaries with Kids, page 58) 

This means, that I needed to use the logical consequences that result from my child’s actions to help him learn about the realities of life. In “real life,” choices we make don’t come without some sort of outcome, whether the result serves us well or does not serve us well. For example, if I’m kind to the people in my life, I end up with some really great friendships – a choice with an outcome that serves me well.  If I don’t switch my laundry, I end up with moldy clothes – a choice with an outcome that doesn’t serve me well.
 

It’s not about trying to turn my teen into a robot, but rather help him understand the realities of life and control he has over many of his choices and outcomes. If my son peers out his window before school, he can see the line of cars driving past filled with people on their way to work. If those employees consistently choose to do their jobs well, they get a paycheck in the bank – an outcome that serves them well. Of course, the reality of continually choosing to skip work would be losing that job and paycheck – an outcome that does not serve them well.   

So, we decided (him unenthusiastically) that just like all those workers he daily watched drive by, he needed to finish his checklist before he got to play his video games, something that highly motivates him. If the checklist wasn’t done, I wasn’t going to get mad about it – I’d simply hang onto his gaming devices, and we’d try again tomorrow. Then, we did our best to stick like glue to that routine allowing him to be in control of if his choices and their outcomes served him well or not.  

(Side note:  I’m not a fan of taking away activities that surround him with positive peers like co-curricular activities or youth group.) 

The checklist gives your teen control

By the end of week one of the checklist, I could already see a noteworthy improvement. I had stepped back and tried hard to hold my tongue, while he stepped up and got through the list his way. I could see that with this new strategy, he felt more in control. 

Was it perfect? No part of raising kids is flawless, and yes, I had to let some things go, but we both liked this framework of routine and communication.

Be consistent

We know how hard consistency can be in parenting; however, I found checking in once at the end of the day much more manageable (and enjoyable) than asking 1.1 million times if that flip grid for band got turned in.

Grab the checklist here.

Do we use this checklist forever?

Please, no – just to get over the hump. The goal is always to raise independent teens.

Praise your teen’s effort big-time

And then this is the best part: we praise our teens a ton. We notice all the effort they are putting in and tell them so, as much as possible. Ignore the eye roll, they are letting it soak in. They crave words of affirmation like we all crave chocolate cake.

Save time – grab the checklist here!

Mom-friend, because I know how valuable your time is, I made a downloadable checklist for you. The checklist covers the basics in: 

  • Morning routine, including making sure everything is ready for the day 
  • School routine, including verifying assignments are done 
  • Other healthy habits, like exercise, reading, and being creative 
  • Picking up and helping around the house 


It’s a one-page, printable is with realistic, healthy, and manageable expectations for tweens/teens. It’s also in word document form so you can tweak it to fit your child exactly. Grab the checklist and as a bonus, you’ll get monthly(ish) encouraging raising tweens and teen emails. They’re free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

 

Momma, you’re doing a great job raising your tweens and teens

We all know there’s no magic formula to raising tweens and teens, and sometimes kids just make poor choices despite our best parenting efforts. But we also know that hearing each other’s stories of tangible ways we found a parenting win can be a great starting place when we’re trying to nail down our own solution.  

Maybe this checklist-solution will land your family at the end of the rainbow. Or perhaps it won’t…yet an introduction to the idea might spark a conversation where your teen eventually says, “Mom, I have an idea that I think will motivate me better than the checklist…”  

And that’s a win for everyone.  

Motivate Teens Sources:

[1] The parenting books that impacted me the most with their research, experience, and stories of when you’re trying to overcome a parenting challenge, connecting expectations with rewards and consequences that you see in real life were (affiliate links):

Have a New Kid by Friday: How To Change Your Child’s Attitude Behavior & Character In 5 Days (Dr. Kevin Leman)

Parenting Your Delinquent, Defiant, or Out-of-Control Teen: How to Help Your Kid Stay in School (Patrick M. Duffy, Jr., PsyD)

Boundaries with Kids (Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend)

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms

Read the full motivate your teen to thrive in school series…

As a high school teacher for over two decades, I love, love, love watching kids learn. It’s okay if there are struggles in their educational journey. Not just okay – normal, even. We just keep stressing the importance of education and giving them the tools for success. And then we encourage our kids and love them well.

I hope you enjoy these articles.

Help Your Kid to Thrive in School Series

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Parents, Help Your Kids Thrive in School By Asking These 4 Questions
Why I’m Not Freaking Out that My Struggling Reader Has Low Reading Scores
A Mom’s 1st Day of School Wishes
Moms, You’ll Better Enjoy the End of the School Year Remembering THIS
*My Teen Was Struggling In School (With Distance/Hybrid Learning), So This Is What I Did
Teen, These Big Reasons are Why You’ll Like Trying Hard in School

GETTING ORGANIZED
Kid’s Morning Routine Checklist: Get Your Kids Out the Door Happy and On-Time

BOOKLISTS
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that Will Also Build Character
Compelling Books that High Schoolers Will Want to Read

My teen was struggling in school, so I did this…

(Inside: Teens in school can be a challenge, especially when we’re in a pandemic and the hybrid/distance-learning is not clicking for them. My teen was struggling in school, so this is what I did…)

There’s nothing like sending messages to my high school students’ parents to let them know their kids need to turn in missing work, then looking at my own teen’s grades and my eyes bugging out like a 1980’s cartoon character.

Motherhood is humbling like that.
 
“What happened?” I asked my middle schooler about his poor grades, “This just isn’t like you.” (School doesn’t necessarily come easy to him, but he works at it and usually does well.)
 
My 13yo shrugged.
 
I waited
.
And waited some more.
 
What finally tumbled out is that 5 weeks into hybrid-school, it’s sinking in that this is the new norm. And he’s over it – he wants to be in school full-time. He likes learning the lesson and being able to start the homework in class, so if he has questions, he can ask his teacher or classmates. He’s finding it increasingly harder to self-motivate to sit in front of a screen on his distance learning days and crank out assignments – for hours. The novelty of education from home (like in the spring when he did well) has worn off.

He’s not alone.

In my high school grade book, I’ve noticed a dip in students turning in assignments on their at-home learning days. Some students are acing homework completion (as always), but some are – well, having a moment. Or two.
 
Even though, as a professional, I know my son isn’t alone, still in mom-life, my kids’ grade plummet pushes a sensitive button. Education is crazy-important to me, so if my child isn’t doing well my brain instantly entertains the worst-case scenarios: What if this means he’ll never do well again? Will he get into college? Or get hired? How am I failing as a mom in this area? (I am never dramatic or hard to be around at all.)
 
Then, I want to fix it all. All of his struggles, all of his disappointments, and for-the-love…all of his grades.
 
But, I can’t. School is on him.
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We’re all guiding our teens to find success in school. Join here.

And he is capable – all of our kids are.

Our kids are capable of getting organized and figuring out what class to do when.
 
Our kids are capable of navigating this updated technology.
 
Our kids are capable of reading the directions closely and following them.
 
Our kids are capable of producing quality work.
 
When they get stuck, they are capable of using their resources (notes, videos, materials, classmates, teachers, tech staff, The Google) to figure out how to understand the course content and complete their assignments well. Their schoolwork is age-appropriate, and they can do it. Even if they don’t feel like it or are struggling with distance learning.
 
(Side note: I’m painting with a broad stroke here. Teens struggling with mental illness or other serious challenges during this pandemic might need to pay attention to their personal lives first. The schools have many resources to help with this!)

However, even though I know my child is capable, my inner compass told me that my kid needs additional support right now. So, here’s what I did…

Together, my son and I went upstairs to examine his workplace. Talk about the aftermath of a category 5 hurricane – who can work in this chaos? Together, we straightened his room and desk.
 
Then, we looked through Campus (grades) and Schoology (calendars and assignments) and made his to-do list for the next day. Also, we agreed (him unenthusiastically) that I would need to check in more to make sure he’s both doing quality work and turning it in. We decided our method of communication would be through this checklist. (Read more in the description here.)  Of course, all with the goal of him reclaiming his independence.
 
 
I know my teen and I will probably clash over homework as he labors towards getting back on track; I don’t expect life to be flawless. However, I refuse to say that a struggle in school is telling the story of my kid. Or that I’m failing as a mom because he’s not producing top scores right now. This is just a normal part of mom life.

And then, as moms of teens so often do, I said a prayer and took a step back, leaving the responsibility of the next day’s schoolwork on him.

We had a plan and that felt good.
 
But if it doesn’t work (or only works for a short time), then we’ll next try something different. After all, problem-solving, resourcefulness, and loving our kids through it all is a mom-raising-tweens-and-teen’s superpower.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid and celebrate the awesome momma you are.

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. 

Join our community here or below.

gifts for moms

Teens in school can be a challenge, especially when we’re in a pandemic and the hybrid/distance-learning is not clicking for them, as I talked about in this article. But school can be hard even in the best of times. Be encouraged by reading the full “Help Your Teens Thrive in School” series.

As a high school teacher for over two decades, I love, love, love watching kids learn. It’s okay if there are struggles in their educational journey. Not just okay – normal, even. We just keep stressing the importance of education and giving them the tools for success. And then we encourage our kids and love them well.

I hope you enjoy these articles.

Help Your Teens Thrive in School Series

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Parents, Help Your Kids Thrive in School By Asking These 4 Questions
Why I’m Not Freaking Out that My Struggling Reader Has Low Reading Scores
A Mom’s 1st Day of School Wishes
Moms, You’ll Better Enjoy the End of the School Year Remembering THIS
My Teen Was Struggling In School (Hybrid/Distance-Learning), So I Did This 

GETTING ORGANIZED
Kid’s Morning Routine Checklist: Get Your Kids Out the Door Happy and On-Time

BOOKLISTS
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that Will Also Build Character
Compelling Books that High Schoolers Will Want to Read

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We’re all guiding our teens to find success in school. Join here.
freshman year of high school

To the Mom of a High School Freshman

(Inside: Freshman year of high school is a milestone transition for both the moms and the kids. Moms, this is how you mentally prepare for freshman year of high school.)

I watched from the driver’s seat as my oldest son shut the passenger door and walk towards the high school entrance for freshman orientation.

My eyes shut and opened, and the scene changed.

Instead, I saw a small blond-headed kindergartner proudly sporting his Captain America backpack turn to make sure he caught my eye. He lingered, smiled, and waved.

Then I blinked again and was back to watching a 6’1’’ freshman’s back getting smaller.

It felt strange.

freshman year of high school
Freshman year of high school can be challenging for both the mom and the kid. Join our community of moms raising older kids and be encouraged. Join here.

I’d never not gone with him to see him meet his teachers, find his classroom(s), and unpack his school supplies in his locker.

From kindergarten to 8th grade, bustling around the school with other parents and their students is the only norm I knew.

As I observed my son gather with his peers outside the main door, unexpected big emotions swirled. But how exactly did I feel? It was hard to pinpoint: Disappointment that I can’t go with him? Pride that he’s getting independent? Disbelief that I’m old enough to have a high school kid?

My muddled feelings, though, pointed me to this truth: my role as a parent just changed.

I just took a new place in his journey – a few steps back.

I know these next four years will be important years with big life lessons. To grow and mature he needs to learn to navigate his path with independence. But still, I catch my breath at this change.

Because I know people are going to hold his heart who don’t deserve it.

Yes, he will make solid life-long friends, but these years are when his peers are figuring themselves out too. So, sometimes he’ll be overlooked or mistreated or not cherished the way I’d like to see, and it’s all a part of growing up. He’ll learn the value of true friendships and how to navigate the social scene.

However, as he maneuvers through peer relationships, even though my role has changed, he’ll still need me. And I’ll be waiting – simply a few steps back.

I also know expectations are higher.

Grades count. ACT scores stick. Teams start cutting. Clubs do adult things like build robots and give speeches. In it all, he’ll start figuring out his skill-set and interests and direction. Then, everyone will be asking where he wants to go to college and what are his post-graduation plans – he’s going to experience a new kind of pressure.

However, as he maneuvers through learning about himself and finding direction, even though my role has changed, he’ll still need me. And I’ll be waiting – simply a few steps back.

Responsibilities grow.

From getting a job to learning to drive, he learns to manage more. His schedule becomes his charge as the school staff and coaches and bosses communicate with him and not me. In these years, he’ll get a glimpse of adulting.

However, as he learns to get organized and manage heavier responsibilities, even though my role has changed, he’ll still need me. And I’ll be waiting – simply a few steps back.

There will be joy and struggle.

He’ll find success in unexpected ways, and his confidence will grow. But also, he’ll mess up and be disappointed. And sometimes, I will draw the line on important things and say “no” to remind him who he is – a good kid growing into a good man. I will also get to cheer him on and tell him how he makes me so proud.

As he goes through the highs and lows of the teen years, even though my role has changed, he’ll still need me. And I’ll be waiting – simply a few steps back.

Just like in elementary school and in middle school, the homework assignments and practices and homecomings and evenings-with-friends-over will all tick by so fast.

I’ll blink, and he’ll be in a cap and gown receiving his diploma.

But, I’m not there yet, I’m sitting here in the car at the start of this journey. My hands maneuvered the steering wheel out of the drop-off zone. Even though I began inching away, a piece of my heart stayed. And a mourning for that little boy and his Captain America backpack flashed through me.

Yet, I also felt something else: gratitude I get to be with him during these next four impactful years – what a gift!

And it’s okay that I’m a few steps back.

conversation starters teens
Connect with your teen over these 400+ conversation starters.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms

Read the full Help Your Kid Thrive in School Series

As a high school teacher for over two decades, I love, love, love watching kids learn. It’s okay if there are struggles in their educational journey. Not just okay – normal, even. We just keep stressing the importance of education and giving them the tools of success. And then we encourage our kids and love them well.

I hope you enjoy these articles.

Help Your Kid Thrive in School Series

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Parents, Help Your Kids Thrive in School By Asking These 4 Questions
Why I’m Not Freaking Out that My Struggling Reader Has Low Reading Scores
A Mom’s 1st Day of School Wishes
Moms, You’ll Better Enjoy the End of the School Year Remembering THIS

GETTING ORGANIZED
Kid’s Morning Routine Checklist: Get Your Kids Out the Door Happy and On-Time

BOOKLISTS
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that Will Also Build Character
Compelling Books that High Schoolers Will Want to Read

freshman year of high school
Freshman year of high school can be challenging for both the mom and the kid. Join our community of moms raising older kids and be encouraged. Join here.
graduation sentiments

Graduation Sentiments: Class of 2020, Your Graduation was Extra Beautiful

(Inside: Graduation sentiments for the class of 2020. Why the class of 2020’s graduation celebration was extra amazing.)

I wondered if the socially distanced graduation would be special enough for our cherished class of 2020.

As a teacher, I love working high school graduation. The walking across the stage, the mid-shake-pause-and-smile for the camera, the speeches, the music, the sea of family members, the energy of pride and hope – graduation always feels sacred.

Of all the things the class of 2020 lost in the end-of-the year-pandemic-let-down (spring activities and prom and moments together), I mourned their loss of graduation the most.

When I heard that the high school where I teach was going to host a graduation processional, all I thought was is that special enough for these remarkable young people?

Cars and signs and balloons and seniors – the parade happened.

A week later, I find myself thinking back to this event, trying to engrave memories permanently in my brain. It was so special – way more than I could have ever imagined. This is what I always want to remember…

Graduation sentiments
Connect with your family over these 400+ conversation starters. Grab them here.

I want to remember what the entrance to the path the seniors followed through the school grounds looked like.

Hundreds of professionally-made signs, one for each senior, boasted the school emblem and a congratulations message with the senior’s name. In neat rows, the sheer number looked impressive and beautifully greeted our seniors.

I want to remember the hundred-plus school staff lined up. 

Our clothes flashed the school colors, we waved pom-poms, we held clever signs (math department: Good luck and “calc – u – later”), balloons shimmered, a dry-ice concoction created fog (thank you, science department), and we clapped noise-makers. There were smiles, laughter, cheering, and so much love.

 

Related Article: A Mom’s Prayer – Transform Your Anxious Thoughts

I want to remember the look of our seniors’ faces.

Big eyes became liquid eyes as the staff cheered “Congratulations,” “We’re so proud of you!”, “We’ll miss you!”, “Come back and visit us!”

I want to remember how many cars were transformed into float-like creations.

The doors boasted senior pictures and words like “University of Minnesota bound” and “I’m 2020% done!” There were streamers and balloons and a giant paper-mache graduation cap riding on the top of one vehicle.

I want to remember our seniors in all of their glory.

Some sitting on the passenger windows, perching on the back of convertibles, championing bucket seats behind open van doors, standing through sunroofs (one playing her sax), commanding armchairs in the back of trucks, or towering in a sky-high semi cab. (Yes, everyone, lift those seniors up!)

I want to remember the long line of family cars behind the one showcasing the seniors

Smiley grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. (“Congrats, families! We’ll miss you too!”)

 

Related article: Importance of Motherhood – The One Things Moms Do That Forever Sticks

I want to remember all of the recording phones.

Multiple phones in one car capturing it all, it felt like no one wanted to miss a moment.

I want to remember the students who went through the line three, four or more times

to wave again and again because we all wanted to linger

family at dinner table
Connect with your family over these 400+ conversation starters. Grab them here.

I want to remember the moms who got out of their cars 

and from a coronavirus-safe distance videoed the parade from a new angle, snapped pictures of the teachers, and offered kind words to the staff.

I want to remember how beautiful our seniors looked

 beaming in their cap and gowns.

I want to remember how good it felt for all of us to see each other.

Students, parents, families, teachers, administrators – our faces lit up, our hearts celebrated just by being in the same place.

Every graduation is special. But there was something extra beautiful about a community that came together after being apart for so long.

I worried the class of 2020 wouldn’t get enough; instead, I felt like they got more –

More hype.

More gratitude.

More connection.

More celebration.

More pride.

More joy.

Of all the graduations I’ve worked, the graduation celebration for the class of 2020 has been my favorite.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

Your brain bounces between your day at work, what time(s) your kids need to be at practice, your teen’s missing school assignments, that you haven’t called your mom lately, the load of the laundry to be switched, “What’s for dinner?” and “Why are 3 of my brain-tabs frozen?”  

You are raising tweens and teens – the unique parenting phase where everything gets easier…and harder.

We’re finally believing all those “they grow so fast” comments. This is your last hurray with kids in your home and you want to love every minute.  

You’re taking a second look at your career, your hobbies, how to share your gifts and talents. 

Parenting grows your faith and then makes you wonder where your faith is. 

You long for friendships and deep relationships, but you’re just so busy. 

You’d love a quick place to connect and feel encouraged.  

Join the hundreds of other women who’ve signed up for Empowered Moms and Kid’s inspirational monthly emails. You’ll look forward to opening them. (Plus, it’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.)  

gifts for moms

Graduation sentiments for the class of 2020

"Every #highschool graduation is special. But there was something extra beautiful about a community that came together after being apart for so long. I worried the #Classof2020 wouldn’t get enough; instead, I felt like they got more." Read on… Click To Tweet
Graduation sentiments
Connect with your family over these 400+ conversation starters. Grab them here.
distance learning

Distance Learning Students – you nailed it and we are so proud

(Inside: Distance learning can be hard. But, students who moved to online school during this pandemic, you nailed distance learning, and here’s why.)

To Our Kids, 

We want to talk to you about eLearning. Not to criticize, but instead, to tell you – we see you. 

We know this eLearning thing has taken some getting used to. This “break” from school isn’t what you’re familiar with – spring break, winter break, Memorial Day weekend. 

In it all, we see you. 

We see you getting up when you’d rather sleep in to go after your eLearning. We see you clicking all over the Schoology, Google Classroom, and Seesaw sites trying to find where all the information is. We see you adjusting to all of your teachers organizing their classes in different ways. 

We see you watching videos and taking notes and googling “hyperbole in poetry” so that you can put your assignment together and submit it. We see you learning to teach yourself. 

We see you figuring out how to organize your day to best set yourself up for success. We see you bounce from the couch to the kitchen table to your bedroom, figuring out WHERE you learn best. We see you trying out different times of day, figuring out WHEN you learn best. We see you cranking through all of the material; then at a different time, taking lots of breaks, figuring out HOW you learn best. 

And when you get behind and there are conflicts between us about it, know we still see you – we know this has all been unsettling and motivation sometimes is hard to find. But we see you go back to eLearning and catching up despite your big feelings. 

Also, we feel your disappointment.

Spring musicals, sports, clubs, end-of-the-school-year celebrations, prom, awards nights, graduation – we know you’ve forever anticipated those activities and milestones. We also know you miss your friends, your teachers, and the energy of the school building.  Even though people tell you there’s so much to be grateful for (there is!), it’s okay to be disappointed and grieve the loss of important things in your lives. We feel the letdown.

family at dinner table
Connect with your family over these 400+ conversation starters. Grab them here.

In watching you navigate distance learning and this experience; we want you to know – we’re proud of you. 

Oh, my all-the-stars…We. Are. Proud. Of. You. 

You’re figuring it out. 

You’re learning to find your voice as you reach out to your teachers for help and direction. 

You’re learning so much about yourself, about self-discipline, and about how to steer your own ship. 

You’re learning to handle technology like a boss and that will serve you well in your future careers. 

You’re figuring out how to keep going through loss and how to focus on the silver linings. 

You’re spamming the perseverance button, and we are so proud. 

Good job, eLearners. Good job to our beloved warrior kids. 

We’re proud of you. 

Love, All Moms Everywhere 

Want more parenting stories and resources?

AWESOME BOOKLISTS
Book Ideas for High School Teenagers

Book Ideas for Middle School Tweens

Inspirational Books Ideas for Moms

GIFT IDEAS
Gift ideas for Moms of Tweens and Teens (Great for Mother’s Day!)

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls

SCHOOL
Teen, These Big Reasons are Why You’ll Like Trying Hard in School (And, no, it’s not about grades.)

FAMILY CONNECTION IDEAS
Connect as a Family Over These Conversation Starters

GROW TOGETHER IN FAITH
7 Powerful Reasons to Pray as a Family

 

 

Connect with your family over these 400+ conversation starters. Grab them here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms
my teen has low motivation

Frustrated Mom – Your Unmotivated Teen Will Find Success

(Inside: My teen has no motivation. What should I do? Help me gain perspective on this!)

My teen has no motivation

I had a wretched evening. My middle school son and I battled over his schoolwork and I felt completely discouraged…

The next morning, I went to a student-of-the-year presentation at the high school where I teach. Each teacher picks a student who has stood out over the year. This award is a big deal.

Low motivation in teens is not uncommon

A teacher stood up with a graduating senior I’d had in previous years. She’d both warmed-my-teacher-heart and broken-my-teacher-heart. Incredibly likable, this girl was kind and fun to be around. But she didn’t like homework, or goals…or really doing anything academic at all.

Despite encouragement and talking-to and phone calls home, her mom and I barely dragged her over the passing line in my class. For three high school years, she struggled to find any success at all in school.

Are you tired of nagging your big kid to take care of their responsibilities? I would through a tough school phase with my son, and communicating through a checklist was a game changer. Read more in the description here.

How this teen became motivated

Then something happened – I don’t know really, but her senior year, we all saw a change in her.

She carried herself differently. With more confidence. Like she’d made up her mind to do well and now she was ready to take some steps.

She started making plans for after graduation – her future excited her. She took on more leadership roles in school – her confidence grew. She focused on getting assignments completed and turned in – her grades went up.

And now she was standing on a stage being applauded by a room full of teachers, administrators, parents, and peers.

Her mom beamed as she came over to say hello after the presentation. I asked, “What changed?” She said, her daughter…

Ready for this life-changing event?

This lighting strike moment?

…she said her daughter simply matured.

Related Article: A family connection activity to increase you and your kid’s happiness

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Moms, we keep giving our unmotivated teens the tools to success

No big dramatic moment, instead, at the end of her junior year, she quietly began to “grow up.” All the things her parents and teachers said to her finally started to sink in. And because she’d been given the tools to find success over the years, she knew to pull them out and start testing a few. Also, because everyone unconditionally loved her when she wasn’t using her gifts, I imagine she knew she had nothing to lose by simply trying.

This mom’s words were exactly what I needed to hear.

Just because my kid fought me on completing homework well, doesn’t mean he always will….

And just because our kids don’t always make good choices, doesn’t mean they always will… Just because our kids are moody and cranky with us, doesn’t mean they always will… And just because our kids can seem apathetic with no ambition or direction, it doesn’t mean they always will…

Sometimes kids just need time…

to grow…
to let it all sink in…
to be a late bloomer…
and mature.

 

Related Article: How to Get Your Teen to Their Aha Moments (Better communicate with your teen)

Have faith – your kid will find their way

Moms, we stay the course. We keep loving and encouraging our kids through the high moments and the low moments. Even if our kids don’t respond to our “motivation” and “wisdom,” we keep giving them tools. We keep placing in their toolbox life lessons and tangible steps of how to be successful along with a ton of unconditional love.

And then we know – we really know and believe…
…that maturity will happen…eventually.

Join this mom community of moms of older kids

Are you parenting tweens and teens? Then you’re in the right place and I’d love to stay connected. Get instant access to 17+ helpful freebies and monthly empowering emails by clicking here (or below).

gifts for moms

Read more in the helping your big kid thrive in school series…

As a high school teacher for over two decades, I love, love, love watching kids learn. It’s okay if there are struggles in their educational journey. Not just okay – normal, even. We just keep stressing the importance of education and giving them the tools for success. And then we encourage our kids and love them well.

I hope you enjoy these articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Teen, These Big Reasons are Why You’ll Like Trying Hard in School

GETTING ORGANIZED
A Simple Way to Motivate Teens to Be More Responsible

BOOKLISTS
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that Will Also Build Character
Compelling Books that High Schoolers Will Want to Read

my tween has low motivation
Photo by Rubén Rodriguez on Unsplash