Best Books for Teens About Social Justice

Best Books for Teens About Social Justice

Lessons we need to learn…

Social justice for teens is a real world lesson that needs to start at a younger age, and continue throughout their lives. Social justice is an ongoing issue in real life. As a mom, as a teacher, as a person, I need to be willing to put myself in someone else’s shoes. To empathize with my fellow man. As I live out my life, I hope that the lessons my own children, as well as my students, have learned from me will help them to be better people. To be empathetic, sympathetic, to be GOOD people, now and always.

Respect.

Tolerance.

Diversity.

Equality.

Justice.

These are all concepts that need to be taught. Defined. Lived. As mothers, teachers, parents, we can only do so much, but with everyone’s help, our world can be a better place.

With headline after headline of police brutality, rioting, social injustice-sadly, the list goes on and on. We need to do better. We need to BE better. No excuses. We have run out of time.

What I have taught….

One of the units that I teach as a middle school English teacher is Deep Study of Character -with Lucy Calkins curriculum. It is literature based on all the above characteristics woven through their themes. I love to use books to teach all sorts of lessons.

I was new back to the classroom last year after a long hiatus bringing up my boys, so many of the books on the following list are still new to me. However, I have researched all of these, and I am part of a wonderful group of teachers on Facebook that shares and elaborates, so I pulled a lot of information from that group.

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Books That Were Chosen

These books were chosen to represent the best of what I have taught and what I have learned as a teacher listening to other teachers…

There are sections for picture books, short stories, young adult and adult, and finally, authors who have written so many books to choose from. I wanted to get this out and published because this is such an important subject and will be adding to this list frequently! *This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”― Martin Luther King Jr.

Picture Books

Not My Idea -Higginbotham This is an honest book that looks at race, racism and being white in today’s world. This addresses the topic of civic responsibility in a great way for kids to relate to. I have ordered for my classroom!

For white folks who aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about race, this book is the perfect beginning. —O MAGAZINE

It’s Our World, Too: Young People Who Are Making a Difference: How They Do It -How You Can Too! -Hoose  This is two books in one. First part is stories about kids today who are making a difference in various ways. The second part is how-to advice to get started for young people who WANT to make a difference in positive ways.

Separate is Never Equal – Tonatiuh  The unknown story of school integration in California 10 years before Brown v. The Board of Education. This began school integration in California for Mexican-Spanish American children.

You, Me, and Empathy -Sanders   “Showing empathy towards others is a learnt trait, and one to nurture and cherish with the children in our care,” -this quote taken from the book description. Such a wonderful book about the main character, Quinn learning that empathy means “being able to understand how another person is feeling and recognizing their needs helps people to connect to one another across race, culture and the diversity that is ever-present and so important to our world.”  Everyone needs to read this one!

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”― Georg Lichtenberg

Short Stories

Thank You, M’am – Langston Hughes This short story is all about morality. What is good? How do we know? A boy tries to steal a woman’s purse to buy a new pair of shoes. Find out what happens… I found this on the CommonLit website.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories -Ellen Oh   This selection of stories is such a great collection. I have not read them all, but between my classes last year, I have heard about all of them from my students. All sorts of stories about all sorts of people. My students chose the story with this book that resonated with to do a project on for class. These ten stories are all great in their own way.

The Hero Next Door -Rhuday-Perkovich  This is another gathering of stories about being brave in today’s world. Young people can make a difference, all it takes a little courage. Again, I have not read all of this collection, but the couple that I have read were great!

Fresh Ink – Giles  These short stories are unfinished. Their endings are still playing out in today’s headlines. These are all amazing stories of individuality and bravery. Diverse and raw and uplifting. Please read!

Our Stories, Our Voices -Reed  These are essays by popular YA authors who all have something to say about all sorts of things that happen as kids grow up.

The Treasure of Lemon Brown -Myers  I found this on CommonLit.org  We studied this story in my eighth grade class this year. So many lessons contained in this short story! We all loved it.


“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”― Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Young Adult

Wishtree -Applegate  An old oak tree that has been used as a “wishtree” for the surrounding community. A new family that is not necessarily welcomed by all. A crow and other creatures watch from the trees branches as this story unfolds. This is a wonderful story told by a tree, but so much more! If you are not a fan of fantasy, give this a try anyway-because, a tree is wise.

Dear Martin -Stone  This follows the story of a Justyce, who always Is doing the right thing: honor student, helps those in need, all-around good guy. Then, he is arrested and cuffed by an off-duty police officer after an event which Justyce just happens to be there. I have not read this, but it’s on my list! There is a sequel, Dear Justyce, which follows up as Justyce is at Yale as a college student.

Refugee -Gratz  This was another class favorite. Three refugees on three different paths are all connected  by the end of the story. All of them leave homes that they love for reasons beyond their control. They encounter so many difficulties both on their journeys and at their different destinations. I learned a lot about the plight of refugees and many of their circumstances!

All-American Boys -Co-written by Reynolds and Kiely  This story could unfortunately be ripped out of today’s headlines. Gripping and realistic. Could not put down!

Long Way Down -Reynolds  This book has haunted me. My students all were intrigued by this story and a lot of great discussion came from this. The length of time it takes to get down Will’s building’s elevator. His brother has been shot and killed. While Will rides the elevator down one day, he is visited by people from his brother’s past as it stops at each floor.

Will got on the elevator with a singular purpose. Will he get out at the bottom and carry through his plan?

The Poet X – Acevedo  The main character her, Xiomara, is a young woman with a lot to say. She writes in her journal, and has many thoughts that she feels cannot be shared anywhere else. She is invited to a slam poetry contest, but she knows that her family would not approve.

The 57 Bus -Slater  This is based on a true story. Two kids from completely different parts of the world, within one city. They have eight minutes together each day. Then a tragic event occurs. One is injured. One is charged with a crime…

Monster -Myers  This is a complicated story about the trial of a young man for a crime. Is he guilty or innocent?  A pawn of the system and the characters surrounding the crime. Is he a “monster” as he has been titled? Steve, the young man in this story, starts to transcribe his story as a film script. What is the verdict? This would be a good one to read with your teen…

Mexican White Boy – de la Peña  Half Mexican, half white, Danny is struggling with a lot of things as a teenager in San Diego. He mostly wants to figure out where he belongs…

The Hate You Give -Thomas  I have to admit that I have not read the book, but I loved the movie!

Harbor Me -Woodson  I loved this book! Six kids meet in a room that they have a special name for.  They can talk about their lives. It’s a wonderful story about a caring teacher, a group of kids dealing with so much, and the friendships that evolve from their meetings. My students loved this book.

Out of My Mind – Draper  This book really got to me. Locked into a body that won’t work, Melody is assumed to be stupid. Far from it. She finally proves that she is really smart only to be rejected again. Heartbreaking, heartwarming… My students learned that students with disabilities are always what they seem! Along the same lines as Wonder, another wonderful book and movie -talk about overcoming adversity!

Ghost Boys -Rhodes  Two boys meet who have been tragically been killed as a result of racism in different places and times. They help one another to figure out some things about what happened to each of them. This is on my list to order for my classroom!

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry -Taylor  This is a classic! A wonderful story set in the depression about hate and racism and social injustice. It stands the test of time.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You -Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi  The authors reworked Kendi’s book Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and write it in a way so that you can identify racist thoughts and ideas and “stamp” them out when they begin. I have not read this, but it was recommended by a good friend who is a counselor as a great choice for this list.

“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.”― Ijeoma Oluo


For Adults

Just Mercy  -Stevenson  This is a true story about a young lawyer defending a young man accused of a crime he swears that he did not commit. Compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, another great book about good v. evil.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness -Brown  Written by Austin Brown, who finds out at the age of 7, that her parents named her Austin so that future schools and employers would think that she was a white man. As she grows up, Austin learns that people don’t mean what they say, and she grapples with what it means to be a woman of color in today’s world. Really good insight for me.

Raising Fences -Datcher  I read this a few years ago for a book club. It’s a memoir written by a black man who wants to be a good father without having had one himself. This was painful to read, but I never felt so white while reading this.

Americanah -Aditchie  This is a novel that really opened my eyes. It is a love story, but is also a story about how unaware we are of race in this country as white people. This was so good!

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration -Wilkerson  This is a story that covers the migration of six million people from the south to the north in the US from 1915 to 1970. Thousands of interviews and really great stories of a people who tried to escape oppression and find a better life for themselves and their families.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America -Kendi  “In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.” This is at the top of my list to read. Grab the companion book co-authored by Kendi and Jason Reynolds, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.

“The world howls for social justice, but when it comes to social responsibility, you sometimes can’t even hear crickets chirping.”― Dean Koontz 

Authors to Check Out

Kwame Alexander

Matt de la Peña

Gary Soto

Jason Reynolds

Jacqueline Woodson

Walter Dean Myer

Alan Gratz

Hope this helps you start a conversation…

This list is by no means complete! Please let me know if you have a good suggestion that will help to teach our young people lifelong lessons. I hope that these books will help you start or continue a conversation that has to happen in order for our world to be a better place for everyone.

Other book posts: 9 Books to Read With or Without Your Teen, Great Book Gifts for Teens (And Adults!),

And, here is a link to my ongoing list of favorite books on Amazon!

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Social justice for teens|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

15 Ways Parents Can Help A Stressed Out Teen

15 Ways Parents Can Help A Stressed Out Teen

Today is such a strange reality. We are all home. Working at home. Staying at home. Our teens are home from school and college. There are so many things that keep happening, it makes your head spin! Here are some ideas that will  help out a stressed out teen in overwhelming times.

Our whole world completely turned upside down! What is next? For about four days in a row, I kept thinking that it could not get any worse, and I kept being wrong… If our adult heads are spinning, just imagine what is going on in our teen’s brains and hearts right now.

I have reached out to my blogging friends to find the best advice that they have for our stressed out teens today and any other time.

Here is the advice that they have shared.

*This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

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Grab a Coronavirus Survival Chart for your stressed out teen here!

Calming Tips

Leo Baubata posted his zen habits for calmness. Here are his 7 habits and the link to his article with much more information:

  1. A calm morning ritual
  2. Watch your response when you are stressed
  3. Don’t take things personally
  4. Be grateful
  5. Create stress coping habits
  6. Single task
  7. Reduce noise

If you can encourage your teen to just try one or two of these habits to try, it will go a long way to relieving their stress. I, for one, reduced the noise I was hearing over the past weekend. I did not listen to news. I did not read anything that might stress me out.

I basically took a time out from news for a couple of days. It was wonderful, and I plan on doing this every weekend from now for as long as the current (insert whatever you want!) situation goes on.

The news isn’t going anywhere. I was available to my family and friends if something came up, but it really refreshed my soul to tune the world out for a bit.

Have your teen try a time out, even if it’s just for a few hours, they will be glad they did it!  This will be a great way to help a stressed out teen.

Here are my friends’ tips for calming your teens…

Calming Activities by Karen at Nourishing Teens

Tips for Getting to Sleep Faster by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Calming an Anxiety Attack by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

 

Diverting Activities

 

Our teens have a lot of time on their hands even with school, friends, social media, and right now, a world-wide pandemic. Here are a few fun things that might distract them when they have a moment of boredom!

 

Staying busy is good for a stressed out teen, as long as it is balanced with rest and relaxation.

 

Here are my friend’s tips for keeping your teen busy…

 

18 Killer Podcasts by Nancy at Raising Teens Today

 

101 Things to Do When You’re Stuck at Home by Nancy at Raising Teens Today

 

Things for Bored Teens/Tweens To Do While Stuck Inside by Karen at Nourishing Teens

 

100 Blissful Solutions to Teen Boredom by Shannon at Skip to My Life

 

5 Things That Your Teen Needs to Know About Their Grandparents by Shannon at Skip to My Life

 

Things To Do During Quarantine by Loren at LorenKellyCoaching

 

Stressed out teens|www.parentinghighschooelrs.com

Helping Your Teen With Anxiety

If a teen has anxiety, it’s a whole other dimension of stress. It is all-consuming, and overpowering. Teens may need outside help. They for sure need for you to know that it is very real to them. More than anything, they need your love and support!

Here are my friends’ tips for dealing with teen anxiety…

Why Anxiety Can Destroy Your Gen Z Child by Shannon at Skip to My Life  

How To Mitigate Anxiety In Your Teen by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Helping Teens Manage Their Anger by Dana at Parenting in Real Life

Parenting Through Mental Health Challenges and a Global Health Crisis by Betsy at Betsyjewell.com with Dr. Marcia Morris  (This is a podcast as well as a blog post.)

Natural Stress Relievers for Teens by Miranda at The Reluctant Cowgirl

School Angst

Here are some basic tips to help teens with school stress…

  1. Have a schedule 
  2. Use a planner or some sort of calendar
  3. Start big projects early-as in right away!
  4. Create a dedicated work space
  5. Talk to the teacher
  6. Get a tutor
  7. Prioritize work by date due and amount of work that will be needed

Here are my friends’ tips for dealing with school stress…

Helping Kids to Thrive As They Adjust to Distance Learning by Betsy at Betsyjewell.com with Kellyann Rohr  (This is a podcast as well as a blog post.)

Ways That You Can Help Your Teen With Finals (Or School Stress in General!) by me

Model behaviors to help a stressed out teen

Stress is a factor every day in our teens’ lives. School, work, family, money, dating relationships, the list is endless. We need to model behaviors that are positive for our teens to emulate. We need to practice self-care, so that we can help meet their needs and show that it’s a great stress management tool.

Let’s help our teens to fill their toolboxes with strategies for dealing with stress today and any other time that will be stressful in the future.

Here is a great post on coping with all this as a mom from my friend Miranda at The Reluctant Cowgirl.

Here is a post that I wrote about self-care under the best of times, but is great for now because there are tiny doable things that you can do to have a better day, every day!

Here are some affirmations to get us through these days from my friend Shannon at Skip To My Life

Conversation can help

We have time now because everyone is at home. The thing is that we should always make time to have conversations. Our teens are only with us for a limited amount of time-the countdown has started for them to leave for college or a job or the military or one of a million things.

Use the time that you have with your kids to have some of these important conversations about making their future a better place to be. Help you teen to have an advantage by discussing important tips that will help them no matter what is going on in the world.

The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School by me

5 Easy Ways to Improve Communication With Your Teen by me

Things to Know If You Love a Teenager by me

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How To Say “No” To your Teenager

How To Say “No” To your Teenager

Are you exhausted from your whining, wheedling teenager? What is your teen wanting you to say “yes” to? It takes a lot of strength to say “no” in the face of major teen drama-and there will be drama if you use that BAD word. Stick to your guns, and just say no to your teen-they might thank you later! *This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

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There are so many things your teen might be asking… Going out is probably the biggest one I can think of. Here are the questions that you will have: Who will they be with? Where are they going? Who will be driving? Will they be going anywhere else? Will the parents be there? Will there be drinking or drugs?

The questions are endless. “Can I…” -you fill in the blank.

Here are three ways it’s hard to say no to a teenager.

Stage 1:  Your teen will be very sweet and/or uber reasonable. Say no!
Stage 2:  Your teen will mope. Say no!
Stage 3:  Your teen will try to intimidate you with his anger. Say no!

Ways to Make Saying “No” Easier!

Have clear boundaries. 

I recommend having very few rules. If you have a lot of family rules, look them over. Condense them down. Make them crystal clear. We have two rules in our house. Here is my blog post about discipline.  If you have few rules and they are concise, then there is less chance for your teen to try to wiggle around them.

When our kids were younger, we really worked on obedience and respect. This helped as they became teenagers. If you have had a lot of rules, your teen might appreciate a new, fresh approach from you. 

Time for self-management.

This is a time for you to start letting your teen begin to manage themselves. Contracts are great conversation starters, and writing them can be really freeing. One thing that we learned in the process of using these, is once we have shared our non-negotiables, our boys have written contracts that were much stricter than what we would have written! The final product has to be agreed upon and signed by all parties.

If the contract is broken, your teen has to face the consequences which have been written and agreed upon at an earlier date. (Don’t get crazy with this! A piece of paper and a pen is enough to get started.) Here is a link to what a contract with your child is all about.

The best part about this time for your teen, is that, as your teen begins to try new things and have new experiences, they can prove to you that they are responsible. Eventually, contracts can be amended, lessened, and eventually eliminated!

One of our boys never had a curfew because he never pushed it, and we trusted him. Our next son had a very strict one for quite awhile because he kept pushing it. Every kid and every situation is different, so you may not have the exact same rules for each kid, and that is okay. You are the parent, and you do not have to explain yourself!

Be flexible.

The other piece of this is flexibility. Teens will present you with all sorts of new parenting issues-welcome to the seven year challenge called parenting teens!

As new situations arise, you may not be ready to make a decision right away. Our answer to this has always been, “This is a new situation, we need to think about this first.”  This has saved us many times!

We used this when they wanted to ride with a new older friend who could drive. We used this when they wanted to get new apps on their phones. We used this when one of them snuck a friend into our house while we were gone…

Stay clear of the drama. 

Teens are all about drama! I only have boys and can assure you that they are dramatic in their own way! I have been a teacher of preschool, elementary and middle school for more than 20 years, and so, I know about girl drama as well! 

The arsenal of teen histrionics is deep and wide. Teens will use whining, moping, angry behavior meant to intimidate us, and on and on… Do not cave in. 

I have used a Josh Shipp quote before, but I love it and will use it again here. He said, “Teenagers will test you to see if you, like the lap bar on a roller coaster will hold.”  They need to know if you are “steady and safe” and if your love for them will “hold”. This is truth! But, boy, is it hard!

Keep talking.

The best way to stay on track with your teen, to know who their friends are, to know what is happening in your teen’s life is to talk with them. Schedule conversations. At the minimum, once a month. We always had longer more serious conversations around grade time. This was whether they had good or bad grades. Goals could be made at this time, and conversation about their plans for the future.

Monthly or even weekly talks can be scheduled as well. It can be as easy as checking in with everyone on Sunday night to fill in the calendar. Don’t overwhelm your teen with big topics, and remember to listen and ask thought-provoking questions to scratch beneath the surface occasionally. Let you teen lead the way more and more often.

Have you read my book, College Bound: The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School. Here is the link to the post written in conjunction with the book.

 

Be respectful.

Do not talk down to your teen. Do not talk them to death. Listen. Have a conversation. Respect their opinion even if it makes no sense, and many times it won’t. Don’t point out their errors. Agree to walk away and come back if things get heated. Your teen wants ( and needs) to be heard. 

We ask that they respect us, but we need to give the same in return. Let them know the questions and concerns that you have about a new situation. Tell your teen  if these questions can be answered satisfactorily, then your answer might change to maybe or even to a “yes”. This change can only occur if the answers are provided in a timely manner, and in a way that satisfies all.

Get support. 

This can mean many things! 

Talk with your spouse or significant other about as many topics ahead of time as possible. As you hear of other family’s circumstances, talk things over, and make a plan together. A teen can sense any type of weakness, and will use all the tools in their wheedling toolkit to get what they want.

Talk with your friends. Have any of them experienced your current issue? It’s great to have a mentor with an older teen who may have already experienced certain problems before. If possible make a pact with your teen’s friends’ parents to watch out for behaviors and to communicate with one another as problems occur.

Talk with a counselor. Don’t wait until things are out-of-hand! If you start to see some behaviors that concern/scare you, make an appointment. You can go alone or with your spouse/significant other to discuss things and make a plan. Your teen may eventually need to go to a counselor as well, but getting help can be very empowering!

Finally, know that you are in charge. It can be exhausting both mentally and physically, so take care of yourself! Go out on a date with yourself, your spouse or significant other. Take a quick nap. Give yourself mercy because we all make mistakes, and you will too. It’s okay to change your mind, just stay the course!

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More posts to help you parent your teen: 5 Easy Ways to Communicate With Your Teen, 3 Ways Teens Are the Same As Toddlers, 7 Things to Know If You Love a Teenager 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Steps to Avoid Losing Your Cool With Your Young Adult

5 Steps to Avoid Losing Your Cool With Your Young Adult

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5 Steps to Avoid Losing Your Cool With Your Young Adult

It’s tough to remember exactly where the burning sensation started.  Perhaps I mistook it for a hot flash.  Before I knew it, I was excusing myself from the room, muttering something to my husband about this being HIS son.  My good friend Shannon Hale at www.skiptomylife.com has kindly written this guest post letting us know how to avoid losing your cool with your young adults.  She has some great ideas!

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When Your Darling Child Comes Home From College…

What could my rising freshman possibly have said to stir such emotion, just moments after hugs and welcome-homes from his first year at college?  I’m going to tell you.  Because even though I’m not usually a betting kind of gal, I’d be willing to place cash on the barrel that you will hear some version of these two sentences come from the lips of your sweet child in the coming weeks:

“You never knew what I was doing when I was away at school.  Why do I have to tell you where I am now that I’m home”?

How to avoid losing your cool with your young adults

Whether you’re launching a graduate or welcoming one home this summer, the routine you’ve settled into over the school year is sure to change in the coming days.  And, surprise! The dynamics between you and your young adult may have morphed more than either of you are expecting.

Learn from me, friends, and top off the volcano of unrealistic expectations before it erupts.  Just a little planning on your part and a short discussion with your student can make the difference between a frustrating summer and one you’ll cherish for years to come.  Don’t worry; I’ll walk you through this process step-by-step.

Living with young adults feels a little like walking a tightrope over the Grand Canyon.  It takes a lot of balancing to trust our kid on one side while requiring their personal responsibility on the other.  That balancing act can leave us, as parents, a bit wobbly.  Add to this the fear of major repercussions for slipping too far to either side, and we are quickly set up for a very stressful summer. 

Avoid Summer Slump

“Summer Slump” is the term coined to describe the post-semester blues that result from a combination of factors:  change in daily routine, distance from friends, and unforeseen conflict in family and romantic relationships.  About 1 in 3 students described themselves as depressed as a result of this phenomenon.

Quote:  “Without our rigid schedules where our days are planned down to the minute, we begin to feel like we don’t know who we are anymore.” (Post-Semester Depression, Kaitlyn Skye Hipple, Odyssey, May 3, 2016)

As the busyness of the school year comes to a screeching halt, don’t be left frantically navigating how your teen will fill their summer days.  Take just 30 minutes to talk through some simple strategies and set a plan in motion, and you’ll see major pay-off in the coming months.  Here’s how you’ll spend that half hour.

5 tips to AVOID losing your cool with your young adult this summer

1.  Get out the calendar

Young adults are notorious for misunderstanding time constraints.  Pull out the calendar and start by figuring out just how many weeks are unaccounted for this summer.  It may be fewer than you, or your student, think. 

Next step:  post any dates that are already scheduled, such as family vacations, weddings, deadlines and social events.  These events will serve to break up the perception of monotony of the months stretching before your student.

Click here for a free printable summer planner.

2.  Take time to dream

Give your student permission to dream about what they’d like to do this summer.  During my son’s last summer before college, he and his cousin organized a cross-country road trip to see their favorite band. 

Although I was tempted to say “absolutely not” when he first presented the idea, the planning and responsibility he showed won me over.  Put a lock on your lips and just listen.  You may be surprised to see a new side of your kid.

How can you avoid losing your cool with your young adult this summer?!

Once they’ve had their say, it’s time for mom and dad to share their dreams for the summer.  This might include something as simple as visiting the local snow cone stand or as epic as a major bike ride.  Your summer will be so much more fun if you don’t lose your cool with your young adult!

3.  Discuss guidelines

Learn from my mistakes, my wonderful friends.  Don’t assume your student knows what you expect from them this summer.  You are making the transition from parenting to coaching, from living with your child to living with another adult.

It’s tough.  It’s awkward.  But we can do this.  Setting simple guidelines about household chores, curfew, communication, use of car- will keep you from so many rolling eyeballs and slammed doors.

Remember that they have, indeed, kept themselves from dying over the last several months.  Give them credit and very generous limits.

I grew up in a home with one bathroom.  Not one full bath and one half bath- one toilet, one sink, one shower.  So many battles could have been avoided and so many tears could have been saved had we just sat down and figured out a schedule.  But then my sisters and I wouldn’t have near the stories to tell, right?

4.  Provide options

In the event that your teen’s answer to question 2 is “play video games on the couch”, here’s some help.  You, dear parent, will come to this conversation armed with some ideas for summer options.  Here is the beauty of taking 30 minutes to have this planning session in early summer versus waiting until mid-July.

Avoid losing your cool with your young adult this summer!

As you probably know, but your teen may not, now is the time to apply for and pursue a summer job, schedule an internship, or sign up for summer classes.  I know, I know, you’re afraid this revelation will push your already-overwhelmed kid into overload.  But here’s where your pre-work will pay off. 

Show them support by offering to temporarily take something off their plate so they can have a couple of hours to fill out an application online or schedule a meeting with a local business owner.

5.  Celebrate and model self-care

Summer is a great time for students to catch up on sleep, get into better eating habits or start an exercise program.  But we can’t very well encourage them to do those things if we’re not doing them ourselves.

Choose a few goals you’d like to work on this summer.  Your son or daughter will be more motivated by your actions than by nagging.  Plan to celebrate reaching a weight or fitness goal as a family.

Now that another school year is in the books, push the easy button and set aside some time for summer planning with your student.  You’ll be glad you did when fall rolls around and you’re waving goodbye once again.

Here is another post about dealing with students home for a break by my friend Dana at Parenting in Real Life.

Tools to help:  how to avoid losing your cool with your young adults 

Shannon created a free printable summer planner that will walk you through the 5 steps above.

Thanks to Shannon for all the great ideas for ideas on how to avoid losing your cool with your young adults.  This is our first summer that our boys are NOT coming home, and that is a whole other story! 

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Check out my book, College Bound:  The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Teen Through High School

Here is the link to the blog post that goes along with my book with some freebies that you can print out for free. Here are other blog post links…Great Books to Read With or Without Your Teen, 7 Things to Know If You Love a Teenager, Great Games to Play With Your Teens Anytime

Tips and Tools for Working Remotely

Tips and Tools for Working Remotely

Here are some tips and tools for working remotely whether it’s for a job or for school. Our lives look different these days! Work is from home either completely remotely or partly at home. School finished out remotely most places. Many communities are still quarantined, and a number of businesses are going remote for the time being, and possibly offering even more remote options in the future.

Workplaces and schools have many plans in place for the upcoming days. No one plan for work or school is set in stone. I hope that this helps you with any job or school situation.

This post has strategies as well as tools for remote work and school success. I hope these ideas help you as you create and/or improve your working space!

*This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

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Tips for working remotely -for studying too!

“Working” can be a description for both actual work or studying at home. Both have many similar elements. As a student, many of the habits that you establish will help you later when you are working at a job, remotely or not. Here are some tips and tools for working remotely.

Routines and dedicated space/time for working remotely

Routines will be very important for you to get the most work/studying accomplished during your day.

Create a morning and evening routines –Each morning look over calendar for the day, set timers for appointments, create a daily checklist. Start some music. Find a playlist that works for you, I like to listen to smooth jazz because there are no lyrics to distract me. Try different playlists for different tasks so that you won’t get bored. Each evening set a time for finishing and clear your desk for the next day. If you are in the middle of a project, straighten it up, and make sure that it is in a safe spot overnight.

Dedicated work space -Have a dedicated space which can be indoors or out, sometimes both depending on where you live, and what your day needs to look like. Some jobs might need to be done all inside because they will take longer, and you don’t want to move all your things in and out all the time. Other smaller tasks might be more fun to do in the morning outside before the heat of the day.

Keep set hours -make a weekly schedule each Friday for the following week. Take breaks for set amounts of time- don’t skimp on breaks.  Take breaks at the same time as friends so that you can socially distance meet for a walk in the park, zoom for fun etc. Protect your personal time-in other words, just because you are home, don’t work ALL the time.

Set ground rules with others in your home -no interruptions, no touching papers. If you have kids or siblings, spouses even, let them know of your schedule. Have a procedure in place if someone really needs your attention. A “do not disturb” or stop sign can be a great signal. On the other hand, have a green light sign if you are available, so that your people know!


 


Tips and tools for working remotely.

 


Self-care

This is one of the most important tips and tools for working remotely. You have to take care of you. Whether you are working remotely for a company or studying and attending class as a student, don’t forget to do the following things regularly.  

Get out of your house -Go for a walk. Go to the store. Sit out on your front porch and watch the sun set.  

Take sick days -You would take these if you were going into work, so take care of you while at home. There will be days that you cannot work because of illness, your boss and/or teacher knows this!  

Be positive -It can get easy to just focus on work, to get lonely, to get bogged down in not being able to get out. Make healthy choices to do what you can. Set a timer to stop work every so often. Make a date to meet someone for lunch, however that has to look. Communicate in ways that are not work related-send that funny GIF or meme to fellow workers  

Take advantage of being home -Start a load of laundry when you first get up. Fold it during a break, so that the evening is free of this chore. Deal with dishes in the same way.   

Set times for your meals – When you have set times for meals, you can better plan your day. This makes it easier to make plans for lunch out or scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Try to avoid too much snacking!   

Give yourself grace -Working from home can be great, but it has its own stresses. Avoid overworking- this is easy to do when you are at home all the time. Know that mistakes will be made at home just like anywhere else.  

Tips and tools for working remotely.  


Work relations for working remotely

Socialize with your colleagues -Communicate in ways that are not work related-send that funny GIF or meme to fellow workers.  

Use a VPM (virtual private network) –I had to look this one up. It is highly recommended especially if you are working from home. Not as necessary for schooling, but not a bad idea. These can be free, but really, all the ones that I found ranged in price from $4.99-$12.99 a month. This seems really reasonable when you are thinking of internet safety.  

Show up for meetings -If there is a meeting or class that is scheduled, then you should be there. This includes any meetings for group projects. As an employee, your job performance will be based on attendance as well as other intangibles such as effort and problem solving.  

Get face time with your company -at least once or twice a year, hopefully, this will be possible! It is always a good idea to meet in person.  

Look for training opportunities -Another term for this is “upskilling”. Take it upon yourself to learn new skills. Websites such as Udemy, Skillshare or even Khan Academy are all good places to look. Some examples of skills to learn might be: preparing Excel spreadsheets, making pins for Pinterest on Canva, or even a new language. 

Overcommunicate -Be present, even virtually. Be available. Document everything. Be polite. Follow up. This applies to students as well as employees.  

Use separate phone number for work -There are many options for this. If your company doesn’t set this up for you, then you might check into it for yourself. Be sure to mute your personal phone when working for less distractions.  

Ask for what you need to work from home -Anything that you feel would make your experience better is always worth asking for. Whether it is for a job or school, please ask your boss or professor. They will do their best to help if you have good reasons for asking.  

Ergonomics are important -This is “engineering for your body.” Not only is comfort important, it will help you to maximize your time, and prevent burnout. There are many reasons why this is something to think about.    

Weekly dose of parenting encouragement


How to negotiate working remotely

Decide your “why”  -Do you really want to do this? What would be your benefits of doing so?   

Be prepared with solid information about how this will work -For instance, how will you keep track of hours worked? How will communication work between you and your co-workers? Come up with all the concerns that you think your boss will have, and be ready with an answer. In other words, do your homework.  

Start with a trial period, of say 8 weeks -Both you and your boss can assess whether this is working or if anything needs to be tweaked to make it better.  

Have you been home and want to stay there to continue working? Read this article for ideas how.  

Tips and tools for working remotely.    


Working remotely best practices

Find out what your employer or school policies are for remote work.

Know how to reach your boss/manager or professor. Do they keep set hours?

Be flexible.

Clarify expectations between co-workers or fellow students working on a project.

Set meeting times with extra time in the front and back end to catch up just like you would in person.

Get dressed for the day.

Do you have a work “playlist”? Try new ways of doing things.

Assess what is working regularly- for yourself, and the company or school (grades).


Tips and tools for working remotely.

Tools for working remotely

Comfort is key when working anywhere. If you are newly working or studying at home, look at what you have around the house that will make your work area both comfortable and inviting. You would do this at an office, and you should make an area or two where you work or study a place that you enjoy. I have listed some tips and supplies that will help you as you begin or continue to work remotely at home.

Pomodoro method -This is a great method for working and/or studying. You break down tasks into manageable chunks and set a timer. If you have never tried this method, it’s worth trying!

To-do lists -Tips to creating the best lists for getting things accomplished in a logical order. This is great when you have lots going on!

Apps for working remotely  -Great stuff in this article!

Background for video meetings-Keep it neutral! You can purchase one or just use the side of your house or apartment if you are out on your deck or patio. I often use a closed closet door!

Cart for supplies -This can be rolled from inside to outside easily to keep your office supplies organized.

Laptop stand -This is so that you are not bending over your computer all day. Move this to wherever you are working! Will save your neck and back! Grab a wireless keyboard and mouse for this set up.

Blue light blocking glasses -even if you need no correction to your vision, these will help protect your eyes from hours on a screen. Or you could grab a blue light blocking screen protector.

Outdoor setup for working remotely

I highly recommend working outside when you can! It is always nice to get fresh air, and it will give you a different work space that won’t leave you feeling trapped inside all day.

Work outside in the morning before the heat of the day, or maybe in the evening after a few hours off in the afternoon through dinner. Here are some tips and tools for working remotely outside.

Tips and tools for working remotely.

Sunscreen -Even if you are out before prime sun hours, you really should use this! Don’t forget the back of your hands, your neck and ears.

Sunglasses -These are also a must. Don’t squint into the sun! Wrinkles in your future so much faster! And,  Blue light blocking glasses -even if you need no correction to your vision, these will help protect your eyes from hours on a screen. Blue light glasses reduce fatigue and improve your sleep!Bug repellant -This is an all natural bug spray. You can also make your own. There is also a mosquito repeller that works on a charge for more than six hours. If you don’t like the idea of spray, this might be a good option!

Camp tableThis one has adjustable legs, folds up, and has a smooth, not slatted surface.

Sail canopy -Automatic shade! These are really nice, and really easy to set up.

Balcony table -This is cool! It hangs over your balcony railing. Really nice if your space is limited! There are two sizes available.

Comfy chair -This is so important! Make sure that you find a chair that you can sit in comfortably for a couple of hours. Of course, it’s best if you get up more often than that, but you may have to sit through a long meeting or class. This one is nice with the mesh seat and back. There are four color choices.

Planter pots– These are great for indoors or out. I like the size of these, and these two pots look a little like concrete.Rug -This one is sisal, and comes in many sizes. This material is great indoors or out.

Throw blanket -This will be great for cooler mornings and evenings. The design in this is classic, and comes in many different colors. The price is right, too!

Tips and tools for working remotely.

Indoor setup for working remotely

Many of us have indoor offices set up already. Look at your area with a set of fresh eyes. What could you do for a refresh? Do a deep clean first, and throw out anything that is no longer needed or necessary. Could you pull a new area rug from a different room? What about a new plant? Purchase some new art, or even better take some time to do an easy DIY project for your update. Here are some tips and tools for working remotely inside.

Comfy chair -This is another ergonomically designed chair. I love a chair with armrests!

Standing desk converter -This is the bomb. I have ordered one for my desk. It will raise so that you can stand while you work. My rear end gets so tired!

Planter -This set of 2 little brown/ cream geometric planters are really cool for a girl or guys work space.

Rug -This rug comes in many colors to match any decor. Also many sizes. It’s amazing how just a rug can transform a space from drab to amazing.

Lamp -This is dimmable, has different settings for brightness, and has a USB charging port. It comes in a couple of colors.

Foot rest -I have to admit, this was not one that I thought of myself. But, as I researched for this post, this came up a couple of times. There are so many benefits of using a foot rest, I never knew!

Technology for working remotely

There are so many apps and software available now, that it is hard to know where to begin. Talk with your work to see if if any of these could be provided for you. Know what the choices are and do some research about the pros and cons of each tool, app or system.

System for sharing projects for work/school -This is so important for both employees and students.

Glare guard -for screen (especially if working outdoors) This particular guard is anti-blue light, anti-glare, and blocks UV rays.

Power station -This is not totally necessary, but would be nice to have on hand in a few instances of low power or a power outage.

Wifi booster -This can be helpful in many instances. We have a couple of these in our home because our wifi is awful!

Hope that these tips and tools for working remotely help!

Working or studying from home is a challenge and a privilege. Even if you have no choice about your home location, then you do have a choice about making it the best experience that it can be. Be sure to use these tips and tools for working remotely.

Be comfortable. Be smart. Be productive. Good luck to you!

I would love to stay in touch!

Make sure you subscribe to my Parenting High Schoolers newsletter below for more articles about surviving and thriving with teenagers. Simply enter your information below and you will be all set! You can also like my Facebook page, and follow me on Pinterest and YouTube! I look forward to seeing you again!

Other posts that might be helpful: College and Career Planning: 3 Tips for Success, College: Strategies for Success,

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