One of the joys of homeschooling is holding awesome discussions with your high school teenagers. Teens love to think and debate the issues. But how do you set the stage so you can have an awesome discussion?
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How to Have an Awesome Discussion with Your Teenagers
Set the Mood
You want to make the setting of the discussion enjoyable so your teens look forward to the weekly discussions.
Brew up tea, bake cookies, and light a candle. And you don’t have to do the work! My sons never cared for the ambiance, but my daughter does. She’s delighted to bake some cookies for us to nibble one while we debate.
Remember to add some paper and art supplies as well.
I’ve found my teens pay attention better if they’re doodling and taking notes during the discussion.
A good discussion requires time, so make it fun for both you and your teenagers.
Allow Enough Time
Trying to have an awesome discussion when you need to dash out the door in 20 minutes is impossible. There’s no time to think, to ponder, and to muse upon the questions.
Kids don’t have time for rabbit trails that may seem pointless. But these rabbit trails actually allow them to compare historical figures or to laugh about the Pigs acting like pigs in Animal Farm.
You need time for the discussion to follow the rabbit trail to it’s conclusion and return to the topic at hand.
At the same time you need to allow time for your teens to have sudden sparks of inspiration. These sparks don’t happen on a time table.
So if you want a good discussion with your teenagers, allow plenty of time for rambling thoughts. In my experience you need at least one hour, if not two.
Have a plan
Before you sit down with your teenagers, have a plan. Know what you want to cover and why.
What do you want your kids to learn?
What points should they walk away with?
This is one of the many reasons I use Tapestry of Grace. Each week comes with a discussion outline which gives me a plan for our weekly discussions.
I know what I want my kids to learn and I know what points they should walk away with. And I don’t have to spend hours coming up with insightful discussion questions!
Regardless of how you create your plan, you need a plan for your discussions.
Read the Material Ahead of Time
It’s hard to have a good discussion when you’re flying by the seat of your pants. Believe me, I’ve tried!
You don’t know what questions to ask and what answers to expect. The kids start talking and you have no idea if they’re just talking to fill space or they actually know what they’re talking about.
You can’t ask additional questions to draw the kids out. And you can’t fill in gaps in your children’s understanding.
Reading the material ahead of time makes a huge difference in the quality of your discussions.
Let Teens Squirm
Teens can easily answer questions about who did what. But answering the questions about why are harder.
You’re going to ask your kids why this happened, or why that person did that. And your teens are going to wiggle, squirm, and avoid answering your question.
And that’s because you’re asking the kids to analyze motives. You’re expecting them to critically think about the issues.
Don’t rescue your teens.
I’ll say that again! It’s tempting to rescue our teens and answer the questions for them, but it doesn’t help our kids learn how to think critically about events. Instead it stunts their growth and let’s them depend upon us for all the answers.
But we’re raising adults here. And adults can’t depend upon mom and dad to give them all the answers.
So let your teens squirm. Nibble on a cookie. Sip your tea. Give your teens time to think, ponder, and wiggle during the discussion.
And see what they come up with for an answer.
Go with the Flow
Discussions ramble, take rabbit trails, and meander down unforeseen paths.
So when you find your discussion rambling, don’t worry about it. Go with the flow.
These ramblings help kids make connections between disparate events or compare and contrast two events.
And if you suddenly think of an important point that’s not on the plan, go ahead and bring it up! A good discussion isn’t a lecture.
This is why you need to plan enough time for your discussions.
Awesome discussions with your teenagers don’t just happen. You need to have time for the discussion, read the material ahead of time, and to create a plan for your discussion.
But with a bit of thought you too can enjoy awesome discussions with your teenagers every week!
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