Teaching tweens more responsibility

October 09, 2012|By Liz Atwood | The Baltimore Sun

We've reached the point in the school year where I feel like we're settling down for the long slog. The new notebooks and binders are scuffed. The excitement of new teachers and new classes has faded.  October has only just begun and I'm already tired.

The transition to middle school has been tough on all of us. It isn't just that the work is harder. It's that my 11-year-old is expected to be much more responsible. This is a lesson I'm struggling to teach.

Six weeks have passed and he has yet to bring home his gym uniform for me to wash. He lost it for a few days, but now that he has found it, he insists it isn't dirty.

I bought a few things in the school fundraiser and he carried my check around for a week.  His notebook papers look like they were tossed by a tornado.  I find assignments in his folder days after they are due. Some are lost altogether.

Apparently this experience is common, especially among boys.  One expert I read suggests helping boys get organized by giving them a goal to work toward. The goal might not be what I want (all A's and B's), but what he wants (more time to play with friends.)

Another strategy is to focus on the process, such as writing in the planner every day or setting aside the same hours for homework each night.

I'm going to give it a try.  And I'm going to write in the planner every day: Bring home the gym uniform.

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