(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.
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.
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 throughthis checklist.(Read more in thedescription 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.
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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.
Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.