Aaaahhhh, summer. I love the smell of fresh cut grass, hamburgers on the grill, and gentle summer rainstorms.

I also love the time I have during our summer break to reflect on the previous year and prepare for the fall. When I say that, the first thing that may come to mind is an academic review. After all, isn’t that the most important part of home education?

Yes, it is important, but not most important… at least not at our house.

Help Your Teen Create Better Habits

Grades are easy to assess. Students either master the material and are able to successfully pass a test or their answers will show that additional instruction is needed.

Good habits are a bit more difficult to manage.

As parents, we frequently find behaviors or habits we would like to see our children improve, but knowing how to help them buy into the idea is more of a challenge. Here are some ways you can begin to help your teen create better habits in time for fall!

Gently initiate change by setting goals one at a time.

We are all creatures of habit and habits are hard to break.

If your teen constantly asks for costly products or snacks without considering your grocery budget, rather than just saying no, give them an opportunity to learn about responsible spending. Here’s what I mean.

Set a reasonable budget for your teen’s items like shampoo, soap, razor blades, etc., and include costs for any special foods or snacks they enjoy.
Give them that amount in weekly or bi-weekly increments. If you don’t want to give them cash, keep a ledger instead.
Allow your teen to “purchase” these items when you do your normal grocery shopping. If they choose to purchase less expensive personal care products and more expensive snacks, then that is a choice they will have the opportunity to reevaluate next month. Either way, the question, “Can I get this?” has been left up to them.

If the goal is to keep their room clean, discuss why that’s important, list what determines a clean room and include the benefits of keeping it clean. Finally, set a reasonable goal to keep it clean for an extended period of time.

Nutrition is key.

Summer is a great time to reboot a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition is important to a child’s ability to learn.

If your child doesn’t eat breakfast or consumes lots of processed or fast foods, consider making small adjustments now so that when school begins, you will have established a good road toward change. Food allergies, dehydration, poor nutrition, and lack of proper exercise can affect your student’s ability to learn well.

Serve others.

Nothing humbles the soul like serving others. If your teen struggles with an air of entitlement, help them see the blessings they have by volunteering at a local homeless shelter or food bank.

If your teen isn’t excited about the idea, ask the volunteer coordinators if they have service opportunities that will allow you and your teen to work together in the back. Restocking the food pantry with donations or sorting clothes at the homeless shelter are important jobs and can be done while your teen learns the value of their service.

The patrons who frequent these locations are living a life full of challenge, so allow your teen to serve them face to face after they have become accustomed to the atmosphere and have developed a compassionate attitude.

Implement electronic-free quiet time.

Finally, the challenge I hear most from parents concerns the use of electronics.

Electronics are not bad. If used properly, they are a tool that is vital to your teen’s post-high school success. There are a host of places to find information on how to successfully navigate the teenage years with electronics and social media.

Two of my favorites are Dr. Kathy Koch with Celebrate Kids and Leah Nieman. One habit that the whole family can reinvent is maintaining a quiet time without electronics. Perhaps it’s a Bible study time or time spent organizing the tasks for the day.

Better yet, set a family challenge to rise, straighten bedrooms or the house, and eat breakfast together before removing electronics from their chargers.

When considering your academic growth in the upcoming school year, pause to evaluate the personal growth of your student as well. It may prove to be their most important lessons of the year.

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