Wednesday, May 9, 2007

On Robins and Teenagers

I haven't posted about "our" baby robins for awhile...about two weeks ago, I lifted the kids up to peep inside the nest -- and one of the now-mostly-feathered babies jumped out! Needless to say we were a bit alarmed since they obviously weren't the least bit able to fly, and tried to catch the little fellow to return him to the nest. But he scurried away under the bushes and we lost him. So we peeked into the nest again -- and the other baby jumped out! We managed to catch that one, but when we returned him to the nest, he promptly jumped out again.

At last we went indoors and searched for information on baby robins. It turns out that robin fledglings leave the nest about two weeks before their flight feathers are fully developed. The mother and father follow them around bringing them food and water on the ground until their flight feathers grow in and they can fend for themselves. My husband's comment: "Hmmm... sounds like college."

Sure enough, Mr. & Mrs. Robin are still to be seen hopping about our yard watching over their fledglings. Two days ago, we spied one of the babies hiding on a low branch of one of the pine trees on the north side of our house. His red breast feathers were growing in and he looked much more like an adult robin, though he could still only flutter to the lower branches of the tree. (Photos coming soon!)

Some time ago I read about a cross-cultural study (I think sponsored by the UN?) which compared the ages at which young people reached "functional adulthood", defined by the study as being intellectually and emotionally prepared to assume the responsibilities of adulthood. What was interesting was that in industrialized nations the age is getting higher and higher, while it remains somewhere in the mid-teens in the rest of the world. I was thinking about this topic last night, and thinking I'd write something about it, and today I find it popping up all over the homeschool blogosphere. I won't reiterate what others have said better than I , here and here ... and be sure to follow Principled Discovery's link to Susan Wise Bauer's blog on allowing high schoolers to specialize.

I realize my children are only 7, 6, and 2, but what happens now and in the next few years must get them from here to there. My goals for my children in high school:
Deeper faith formation
Preparation for married life
A specialized area of interest and an idea of what they want to do in life
Organizational skills, the ability to manage time, and to balance life (work, study, prayer, service, recreation, rest)
Lots more household responsibilities -- a teen should be able to run the household in a basic way, including the kitchen, the garden, maintaining the car, caring for children, etc.
Vocational training and/or working part-time at a real job in an area of interest, or possibly starting and operating a small business if that is their inclination
Specific training and practical experiences in finances and managing money
Basic high school academic diploma requirements, keeping in mind specific goals (college or other)
Higher levels of critical thinking in all areas

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