When my youngest daughter started high school, I was nervous.

In middle school, Jaiden's study habits were less than stellar, no matter how I tried to help her improve them. She also had a tendency to deny having homework in the first place or claim to have it completed already. I found this only happened when she wanted to do something more interesting, but it, unfortunately, happened much more often than it should have.

Her only saving grace was that her teachers always helped her find other ways of pulling up her grade. So she never finished a term with anything less than a B. And as nice as it was of her teachers to do, it did nothing to teach her the importance of finishing her work on time.

So when freshman year finally rolled around, I clearly expressed my concerns to her about the intense atmosphere she was getting ready to enter. Not only was she about to enter high school — where expectations are undoubtedly higher and homework more difficult — she would be attending a private high school after spending her first eight years in public school. The major difference, in my opinion, between public and private school is the focus of the curriculum. Jaiden’s core classes are now college-preparatory based. This means the content is not only more difficult, but more thought-provoking and mentally demanding as well.

To say I was concerned would be an understatement. I feared her public school experience had not adequately prepared her for the environment she was about to face. Between poor study habits, a knack for avoiding homework at all costs and regularly not being held accountable for her intentional avoidance, I wondered if she would actually make it through the first week at all.

We're not a couple of weeks into the school year and I’m proud to admit I was wrong.

Not only has she taken her first three weeks in stride, but the level of maturity she's exhibited has both amazed and impressed me. During all the time I spent worrying about how Jaiden’s first year of high school would play out, I forgot to stop and consider her own drive and determination.

Within her first week of classes, Jaiden realized reading comprehension was an area in which she struggled more than others. Rather than keep it to herself, she brought it to the attention of one of her teachers, who reached out to the academic counselor. The counselor assigned her an upperclassmen study partner whose goal is to help Jaiden learn to study effectively and to help her improve in any areas that may cause her issues going forward.

It's not uncommon for a child to ignore when they are struggling in school — whether they are embarrassed or just don’t care. I was extremely impressed she not only recognize it, but did something about it. I know that must have taken a lot of courage.

Once I learned she had taken control of her own future, I quickly regretted not having more faith in her. It’s not that I thought she wanted to fail; I just never got the feeling she actually cared. But I was wrong. She cared so much that she was doing everything in her power to ensure her own success.

It was at that moment I realized I must have done something right in raising her. In a matter of a few short weeks, she has transformed from a lackadaisical, unintentional teenager I once worried about, to a mature, self-aware young lady who was personally invested in her own success.

If she was looking for a way to make me trust and have confidence in her, I’d say she found it.


Amanda Smith, a working mom of two children, writes weekly for momaha.com. Read more from Amanda »

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