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Halloween, report cards, technology use, and parent’s expectations as seen by middle school students

Halloween, report cards, technology use, and parent’s expectations as seen by middle school students pablo-2

Photo credit: Pablo by Buffer

If you are a parent and you are wondering how your children may feel about your parenting style, you may want to read this post. Once in a while I help out at a local German school as a sub for middle and high school students. It is a fabulous way to give back and at the same time it is fascinating to listen to what the younger children have got to say. Fairly recently I subbed for a level in which 6 through 8 graders are learning German. I asked them about a few topics and please find below the rather interesting results.

First I asked them about their Halloween experience and what costumes they wore. 3 out of 10 did not even go. The others did go and some of them were excited talking about their costumes. 2 however did not have costumes – they went as “themselves”. Fascinating, huh?

Then I proceeded asking them about what they get for good grades on their report cards in school (report cards in general). I received a storm of interesting answers. Quite a few said that they get to go to a restaurant and they get rewarded with great food. Some said that they receive nothing: “A’s are expected and I get nothing but a nudge to do better when I get an A- or a B”. Only very few get a monetary reward when they get good grades.

Finally, I observed their interpersonal behavior and technology use. I was really positively surprised to see that they treated each other with a lot of respect. By a vast majority, the girls were so much more into learning and paying attention. Interesting, huh? I did not expect this result. Out of 10 children, 4 had their smart phone in class and they were using them as much as they could. Once I gave them the option of either keeping but not using them, or dropping them off up front until class was over. They chose to not use them for the rest of class. Once we took a small break about half of them looked at and played with stuff on their phones. The others took the time and got really creative drawing on the white boards in the class room.

Take away from this was that times appear to be changing as we speak. More and more technology is invading our lives. Nothing we used to do as kids is being done this way anymore. Expecting for the kids to do any different requires for us parents helping out being mindful by what we expect from them. It was heartbreaking to hear most of the kids speak about their parents as being very demanding and yet not being approachable. They seemed missing the personal closeness.

How can we make a difference as parents? There is no right or wrong. Perhaps there is just a better and best practice. Technology does not need to be seen as a foe either. What is needed is for parents to actively think about what they want for their kids to experience. If we want for them to do better, we need to do better.

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