Tips for Teaching Gen Z Kids from Dr. Billie McConnell

Understanding the changes in generations is especially important for homeschooling parents. Knowing what struggles our kids are facing and what qualities characterize our Generation Z kids can help us both to learn from our kids and also teach them the best we can.

Dr. Billie McConnell, a leading educator for over 35 years, has joined with AOP to bring our homeschooling families some incredible insights into this generation of kids born between 2001-2019.

In his first Facebook workshop with AOP, Dr. Billie covered why Gen Z is different from past generations, how they’re different, and what we can do to connect with them.

Be sure to watch the full video titled “Generation Z: I Don’t Understand These Young People Today!” on Facebook or our website for even more insight.

Why Gen Z is different.
While there are many things that could contribute to making Gen Z different from generations before, Dr. Billie highlighted just a few in his presentation.

Generation Z…
- Has never known a pre-9/11 world.
- Has been taught social and religious pluralism where anything goes.
- Experiences a complex, interconnected world with global competition and bombardment from social media.

Additionally, Dr. Billie shared that while organized activities have increased for Gen Z, their responsibilities have decreased. While older generations had adult-less free time to play with neighborhood kids, Gen Z now has highly supervised, organized activities. This paradigm shift provides Gen Z with less opportunities to be creative, innovative, or self-sufficient.

How Gen Z is different.
With the changing social and cultural landscape and rapidly developing technology, it’s hardly a surprise that Gen Z is much different from previous generations. Yet, how have these social and cultural realities changed the way Gen Z interacts with the world? Dr. Billie shared the following:

Generation Z…
- Doesn’t need adults to get information.
- Can share every thought or emotion in real time.
- Experiences 24/7 external stimuli, including the prevalence of cyberbullying.
- Is socially connected but often in isolation.
- Learns even more from portable devices than from curriculum or homeschool instruction.

Connecting with Gen Z
With these details in mind, some parents may feel overwhelmed, but Dr. Billie offered practical advice that can help anyone connect more with our Gen Z kids.

Because attention spans have shortened, we have 6 seconds to catch the attention of a Gen Z student, so keep things short and visual. Feed your child’s creativity and help your kids take up a cause.

To fight against pluralism, Dr. Billie emphasized that we need to help Gen Z own their own faith. We want to avoid making them believe just because we set the rules. Encourage your kids to take ownership of what they believe, even if that means answering hard questions.

This generation also has an alarming amount of mental health struggles. Dr. Billie shared that we can help fight against this by allowing our students to fail and helping them to develop grit.

Learn more about this particular technique in Dr. Billie’s webcast about being a snowplow parent.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Billie made the wise distinction that these issues identified don’t have to define Gen Z.

“They are wonderful, they are magnificent, and they have great hearts,” said Dr. Billie, “but we need to help them with their hurdles. We need to help them own their faith. We need to help them learn how to deal with failure. We need to help them learn how to deal with people and really live for Christ daily.”

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