by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Your teen student is headed to high school. This is the last portion of his schooling, where he prepares for independence. The choices made here will help influence his life path. Should teen students choose their own schedules? As their parents, should we instead be making this choice? While I would certainly like to decide what is likely to give my teens the best head start in life, I still think the final decision is up to them. Here's why.
What if my teen doesn't know what's best? This is a concern many parents have when realizing that their high school student is going to be choosing their own schedule. Talk to your teen about what his life goals and dreams are. Make sure he knows that his schedule should reflect those plans. Also, there should be guidance counselors assigned to each high school student in most schools. If you are homeschooling, you are likely to have some extra influence over the courses your teen student chooses. Either way, your teen needs to know his options and also that you trust him with the choice.
Can a high school student get an easy schedule approved? Some teens may be sneaky and try to take all elective courses. But thankfully, this is not likely to fly with administration. There are certain courses required each semester. So, if your teen ticks off too many classes that are for fun, without selecting any core classes, she's going to have to fix that schedule to get it approved. It may work during senior year if the student has taken all the required courses. But hopefully, the advice given by parents and counselors will instead encourage choices related to the teen's career aspirations.
What if a parent wants the teen to have certain classes? Being too demanding with the choices your teen faces could cause unnecessary pressure. Remember that this is a part of the preparation toward becoming an adult. As parents, our job is not to control everything our kids do. Instead, it is our job to give them the knowledge and confidence to succeed independently. They won't live with us forever. Just like we made difficult choices and learned from our mistakes, our kids need to do the same. Instead of demanding that your teen take specific classes, talk with him about his goals. Go over the class options together and talk about which ones are best suited to his needs. Let him make the ultimate decision himself.
Will a student-created schedule be balanced? Parents often worry that if a high school student is choosing his own schedule, it might not be quite rounded. Fortunately, because most schools require a specific number of core classes and a set amount of electives, it will pretty much even out. The model ay not always be perfect. But most high school students will get to learn what's required, as well as something else directly related to their interests and career options.
Will my teen effectively schedule toward career options? Talking to your teen can help her decide what's best. You may not think she's listening and she may be rolling her eyes, but she does hear you. Because you don't want to be controlling or demanding, there is not an absolute certainty that your teen will make the right choices. But by giving her the knowledge, you put her one step closer to the right choice. By combining your advice, as well as that of the advisor or counselor, your teen should at least be doing something in relation to life goals.
It's scary raising a teenager, knowing that they have the freedom to make choices both good and bad. Providing your children with knowledge and resources is your job as a parent. But if you want them to be best prepared for life, they need to learn on their own how best to apply what you've given them. It's difficult to place such an important decision in the hands of a teenager. But they need to be given that power in order to have the ability to make even tougher decisions later in life.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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