Our son started secondary school this year, which in Victoria starts at year 7. This year has seen as big of a learning curve for me, as it has been for my son.
I very much feel I am at a new stage in parenting – one where I don’t have lots of the answers. So I am reading more, talking to other parents about their experiences and listening to my son, as I try to work out how to adjust my parenting to this new stage.
Today I am sharing just 10 of the things I have learnt this year, not only about being in year 7, but about year 7 boys in general.
NB. This list may contain some rather large generalisations – I do realise not all kids are the same and this may not apply to every year 7 boy!
1). Year 7 kids are away from home much, much more. We went from having our son walk with us to school and come home with us after school, to leaving the house at 7.25am and not getting home until at least 4.30pm. I missed him! His siblings also missed him. The first few weeks walking to school were quite odd. His 10 year old brother, didn’t know what to do with himself after school at first either!
2). Year 7 boys are completely capable to get themselves out of bed, get ready, make their lunch and catch public transport to school on their own. I have been impressed at how he took on this on without complaint. There were mornings when I thought to myself, “he is never going to make it out of the house in time”, but he did. He wasn’t late for the entire year! And this is from the most unhurried, dawdling kid you can imagine.
3). When Celia Lashlie author of He’ll Be Ok: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men, said:
Most adolescent boys will do the work when the moment arrives and not before, and no amount of cajoling is likely to have any effect….When he knows it’s up to him and only him whether something does or doesn’t get done, when he’s able to link action with consequence, then he’ll begin to make good decisions for himself.
she was so on the money! I know this may not be the case for all year 7 boys, but we did have many late nights doing assignments which had been left to the last minute.
4). As Lashlie notes, Year 7 boys do learn from consequence. Consequences like not budgeting your pocket money, so being unable to do things you really want to!
5). If I was to mention every single thing our year 7 son did which was annoying, pushing the boundaries and reminding him of the jobs he needs to be doing, there would be no time for enjoying his company.
Very much like when he was a toddler, I am choosing my battles with him. Constant nagging = no listening. And he is quick to let me know if I am falling into the nagging category!
6).Year 7 is much more full on than when I did it. The expectations and work load is considerably higher at my son’s school. He had both mid year and end of the year exams for each subject. Two and sometimes three exams a day, for a week. It is a lot of work for young boys.
7). Giving him space to let him work out his own study habits has been tough for me. I keep trying to remind myself that in the long term, it is much better for him to find out how effective his study habits are by natural consequence.
After the first round of exams, we talked about what he would do differently next time around and he came up with an improved strategy. I asked him to set goals for the marks he wanted to achieve in his end of the year exams. To his credit, he achieved them! However he acknowledged that there was still room for improvement and has a way to further refine his study technique next year.
I can see it is going to be a gradual process for him, but allowing him to work it out himself (with assistance when he asks) not only bodes better for the long term, it has also reduced the clashing we were having over how he was approaching his work load.
8). Year 7 boys lose lots of things! At the start of the school year, we discussed with our son that while we were happy to buy everything he needed for school, if he lost stuff through out the year he was going to have to replace it himself.
Through out the year he lost his calculator (miraculously found two weeks before the end of school), numerous pens, pencils, protractors and various other little things. But he didn’t lose his school hat (very expensive!), school bag or any of his sports uniform he has to change in and out of a couple of times a week.
So in the scheme of things, I think making him fully responsible for his belongings worked!
9). Don’t ask him questions that back him into a corner. If I know he has done something wrong, I need to just state it. Year 7 boys will attempt to cover their tracks where possible and this can involve lying.
We talk frequently about how I am likely to be less upset/cross if he tells the truth, but I have realised there is no point asking a question I know the answer to and expecting to get the right answer!
10). Year 7 boys can be funny, considerate and helpful. Making sure I remember this, appreciate it and let him know I see this side to him is very important.
We have a great laugh together still and the most important thing I have learned this year is to make sure we still talk often and laugh loudly together.
What new things have you learnt as a parent this year?
If you are yet to have a child in secondary school, but the time is getting nearer, you may like to check out my post on Choosing A Secondary School.