Teenagers 101 by Rebecca Deurlein

I think at many times in their career, really good teachers wish they could have a very long heart to heart talk with many of their kids’ parents and set them straight (the kids and the parents).  Something deeper than a parent-teacher conference but well before issues with teens are beyond correcting. This book feels very much like a personal discussion about kids – about a teacher’s perspective on our teens and ways to deal with problems from homework to appearance. There isn’t a lot of muddled science about pituitary glands, hormones, and physiological changes. It’s just straightforward, if fairly lightweight, discussions about teens and getting them through the high school years.

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The book breaks down as follows, How to motivate kids to do things; How to encourage perseverance in the age of instant gratification; Too old to run to mom or dad: when to get involved and when to step back; Getting teens to accept responsibility for their work, their decisions, and their mistakes;  How to get the most from parent-teacher conferences and open houses; Homework and extracurricular: should you still be involved in high school?; The real value of advanced placement (AP) courses and who should take them; College isn’t for everyone: is it best for your child?; The dangers of coddling: helping your kids develop healthy esteem; Making sure teens know that the way they look and sound matters; Getting kids organized: a strong foundation for a lifetime of success; How to prepare your teens for adulthood; Conclusion.

Most of the chapters begin with examples of kids author Deurlein has encountered in her teaching career. From those examples, she gives hypothetical situations and then reasons why certain responses/reactions would be better than others and explains her reasoning. There is the usual emphasis on helicopter parenting – a whole section and a lot of references in other chapters. That clearly is the problem with American children these days and it looks to be getting much more widespread and problematic as the years go by. But there are many other important topics covered as well – such as dealing with teachers and working as a team to raise the best kids possible.

The nature of the information in here makes this more of a basic primer but the information is very worthwhile all the same. I find it more useful for early teen parents but can help with some later teen parents as well. Those with tweens or kids just hitting puberty will find some good habits to begin before high school but should be aware that the chapters are more about dealing with teens now rather than preparing to deal with them in coming years.

Teenagers 101 is an easy read without a lot of science doublespeak. That isn’t to say that the author has not researched the topic and isn’t knowledgeable about the physiological changes and recent studies from the scientific community. But this is much more of a perspective from someone ‘in the trenches’ – a high school teacher and parent who raised teens herself. That makes it a very valuable resources in itself.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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