Tween School Bags and Academic Success
An Important Tool for your Tween
Your tween is probably more concerned with having the best clothes for back to school. As a parent, your interests aren't just about style, but about academics. The quality of education is foremost in the thoughts of parents, and educators, and both ponder those things that can be done to effectuate better learning and retention. We all want our middle school students to succeed, and sometimes, they trouble us greatly because it seems that the don't care.
The apathy and indifference set aside, we need to do our best to equip our children with good tools for learning, and then, we need to teach them to use those tools. Parents cannot defer to the school system, when it comes to the learning experiences of their children, but must partner with the educational system in order to monitor progress, and to encourage good habits and skills.
Messenger Bags for Organization
I like the shape of a messenger bag, for the sake of organization, with my tweens. The rectangular shape is more reflective of the shape of books, and it's just a little harder to dump everything into a big "abyss". Sure, your tween can still be disorganized and messy, but it seems much easier to work in that rectangular format.
Messenger bags for girls are abundant, with many colors and styles. For your tween son, however, there is a delicate balance between what is socially acceptable in the middle school peer group, and what is conducive to organization. Defer to your son's judgement, in matters of style.
Life with Tweens
Is your tween...
Tweens can be very energetic, but like a pendulum, they can experience swings from one extreme to the other. There are plenty of physical and emotional changes. At the point that 9 year old begins to seriously back talk, you can count on some challenging days ahead. Hopefully, by the time the youngster is moving past the "tweens", you will see some of these swings level out...more or less at about 14, in my experience. I find that 11 and 12 year olds are rather inquisitive, 13 year olds somewhat apathetic. My children tend to emerge from the funk at about 14.
Organizational skills can suffer during this time. My children all seem to go through a stage of forgetfulness. This is true in school work, as well, and as a parent, you can't hide your head in the sand, but rather, need to be involved in helping your child to manage his or her school work through the middle grades. You don't have to monitor every assignment every day, but you should plan ahead to oversee a bit.
With regard to your tween's school bag, a weekly cleanup is a good starting point. If you schedule a weekly school bag inspection, and STICK to it, you can help your child to make it a point to maintain order in his or her school bag. Have you seen the abyss that can inhabit a tween backpack? Wadded papers, broken pencils, and if you're lucky, the right school books for the night's assignments? Decide on a day, and every week, go through the pack together, ridding it of any junk. Once you've made it through the first quarter, expect the same weekly routine to be observed, but don't monitor the process. Just do a spot check every couple of weeks. If your tween is showing responsibility, the spot checks can be less frequent. If the child is not maintaining the school bag well, go back to the beginning approach.
This might seem unnecessary. However, it takes a lot of follow up with tweens, to get to the point of consistent, responsible behavior. Every tween is different, and some may tend to be more reliable. However, many tweens are happy to ignore school work. Keeping the school bag under control is a big step to keeping your tween on track.
Vaultz Pencil Box
Tweens are tough on their school supplies. Avoid the backpack abyss, and help your tween to keep school supplies separated. Calculators, pens, and pencils can be kept in a sturdy and strong pencil box, such as the Vaultz design featured here. Protect calculators from damage, easily sustained with the tossing about of a school bag.
Tools and Their Users
Give your tween an understanding of the relationship between tool, and the person who uses the tool. A saw on a table is useless, if there is nobody to operate it. No matter how fancy or expensive, the saw won't work without a saw-er.
An assignment log is a great tool, as well...
Don't be overbearing....
This can be a frustrating time for your tween, in many ways, and there is a tug-of-war between childhood and adolescence. Your tween will probably err, at times, and forget to tidy up his or her school bag, miss an assignment, or bring home the wrong books. Your tween may walk out the door without the big assignment that is due, and you may receive that frantic phone call, asking you to deliver the important project to school. Hang in, be patient, be as consistent as possible, and be encouraging.
Intrinsic motivation is desired, but once in a while, something extrinsic can be helpful. Set a goal for staying organized, and think of a good reward for accomplishing that goal. Money isn't the best reward, as it can lead to an entitlement mentality. Likewise, things can lead to that same mindset. Try offering a choice of a favorite activity, or dinner out at the successful completion of a grading period, with good organization skills having been demonstrated. Set goals together, and teach your tween goal setting skills in the process.