The high school years (Grades 9 -12) are crucial as they, whether one likes it or not, largely determine the choices a student has in college and beyond. As such, all parents are concerned about how to help their children during this time.
My daughter Priyanka is in Grade 11 and she has multiple goals for the next two years- staying focused on academics, taking standardized tests, creating a portfolio for music and dance, doing some writing and also applying to shortlisted colleges. Add to this the long commute to and from school, she really does have a jam packed schedule.
My first instinct, as a mother, was to see how I could directly pitch in and help her out, but my son (he is in college)’s words cautioning me about hand-holding her too much and hence not preparing her to manage college life by herself reverberated in my ears . So, I thought about how I could contribute without necessarily “doing things” for her and decided to put my “management background” to good use.
I suggested to her that she create a master plan on excel which tracked her goals across all her priority areas. More importantly, I persuaded (sometimes goaded J) her to review this every week.
In the first month, in her excitement, she went overboard and literally made an A-Z list of things to do. I desisted from pointing this out to her (with some difficulty I must admit) but only kept prodding her to check progress. End of month 1 and Priyanka reviewed the list. She used colours- red, orange and green- for indicating tasks that were at various stages of completion and was quite crestfallen at the number of reds she had. I consoled her and said that she had bitten off more than she could chew.
For the next month (October), she has been much more careful and put down a more pragmatic plan (while still keeping the bigger picture in mind). She has also thought about when she has her term break and packed more for that period, likewise she has reduced non-academic activities during her test week. The end of the month will give a clearer picture but I am quite sure that she has made good progress both on how to make a plan as well as delivering on the plan!
This experience made me feel really good on two counts- first, on how much learning she derived from the first month’s experience- at the risk of sounding clichéd, ultimately, experience is the biggest teacher, not lectures, however well-meaning they are! Second, I had grown up in this time as well; I had resisted my tendency to jump in, and instead tried to remain in the background, allowing her to deal with the challenges of managing multiple goals.
As a parent, letting go is not easy and I am hoping that small steps such as this will equip her better to deal with life more confidently and capably in the years to come.
Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.