In past simpler cultures, communities had fewer problems with teenagers because young people took their place as adults in their mid to late teens. In contrast, our culture leaves teenagers in limbo- bored, listless and often angry.
In our experience, teens seem to thrive when they are given a chance to contribute to the family or to learn practical, real life skills. Anything from how to fix cars, to cook, clean and organize a home or take care of finances, all these skills prepare teens for the adult world. The point is that teens behaviour improves if we don't treat them like misbehaving children.
As my children matured, they developed their own talents and preferences regarding their contributions to their family. Because our house was always so busy, I depended on all the kids and they recognized that their contributions were important. This was great for their sense of self-worth.
Melissa could dive into a messy bedroom with a younger sibling and organize their room (she uses this talent in a very well paying job today). Mara made pastry flakier than me at 11 (she is a red seal chef). Rachel always loved to mind the babies (she is an early childhood educator). Emily, from the time she was two, wanted to put outfits together and she helped the little ones get dressed and sorted through their wardrobe. Today she puts her mother together! Katie is very artistic and patient, she did crafts with Anthony and Lucy. The boys are very handy today because they helped Michael fix cars, renovate and repair anything and everything.
University bound kids don't often get a chance to learn any of the trades in high school.
However, Mari Montessori encouraged teenagers to run all aspects of a farm and the household as well as study. Just as she let little children hammer nails, sweep or pour hot tea into china cups, Mari believed that practical life skills were as important as intellectual studies in forming well -rounded, mature, intelligent adults.
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