Teens Losing Things

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Graphing calculators keep getting stolen

Dec 2011

Last year my then-11th grader had his $100+ graphing calculator stolen at school. So I had to spend another $100+ for a replacement this year for use in his 12th grade Calculus class. Now he tells me that the replacement has been lost or stolen. In addition, my 10th grader just informed that her $100+ graphing calculator was stolen at school. So, I've spent over $300 for graphing calculators and at this point we have none. Are any other high schoolers having this problem, i.e., expensive calculators being stolen at school? Is there a black market for these or are classmates just taking my kids' calculators for their own use? Any recommendations for how to deal with this problem? Also, are there any stores that sell graphing calculators that are cheaper? - Geeze, how many of these calculators will I have to buy to get my two kids both all the way through Calculus???

You say nothing about how/where/when your children's graphing calculators were stolen. Have them trace the path for you. Were they leaving the calculators out on the library table and walking away? Leaving them on the bus? Leaving their backpack unguarded on the playground? If you could have your children pay more attention to security issues and be more careful about where they put the calculator, this problem could disappear. Perhaps that is the route to follow. Anonymous

I had a similar conversation recently with L. (we both have sons at BHS). She is interested in finding some other folks to start some kind of grant to fund graphing calculators for less well off students at BHS. Perhaps if more people could afford calculators, fewer would get ''borrowed.'' If anyone else is interested in this project, I could forward emails to her (I don't want to just put her contact info. out on BPN without her permission). As a former high school teacher, I know that things ''walk'' and that also many kids come from families where a graphing calculator is less of a ''need'' than the more essential things, like food. But, if they don't have a calculator, it puts them at a great disadvantage to kids who can afford one (or two).

I've been a math tutor for 30 years off and on. Yes, this is a common problem. You can't leave GCs unattended anywhere or they will get stolen. Also, most students use a TI 83 or 83plus and so they get them mixed up and walk off with their own calculator as well as their friend's calculator. So ask your kids to ask their friends and aquaintances if they picked up the wrong calculator by mistake. Yes, there is a black market and it's found on craigslist. You can buy back you son's stolen GC for 20 to 50 dollars on CL.

Suggestion; don't buy the very latest GC, the TI 89. It's harder to use (less intuitive, steeper learning curve) and all students really need is the wonderful TI-83 or TI-83 plus. Great calculators they are. By the way, if it makes you feel any better, GCs are wonderful in general but also very useful in helping students learn the math and understand it in a more visceral (or visual anyway) way. So they are well worth it. In any case they are mandatory. You can't do without them in pre-calc. but especially in AP calculus.

Once you get another one, SCRATCH your son's name in the spot provided onthe back of the GC, but also take the battery door off and scratch (don't write with magic marker) it into the inside of the battery housing. That way there can be no argument if he suspects someone of taking his GC. The outside name can be scratched out but the theif won't think to look on the inside of the battery area. sean

When I was teaching, I recommended that students use model airplane paint to make their calculator look individual and, perhaps, ugly. I also agree with the recommendations posted on Dec. 16. My recommendations usually worked. Also, look at the Casio graphing calculators which are cheaper and, in some ways, easier to use (or at least that was the case when I was teaching). Judith

16-year-old keeps losing things

In the past six months my son (16) has lost a very nice watch given to him as a gift, his pager and just in the last couple days another sweatshirt. In my irritation over this I feel that I want to stop buying him things until he gets responsible about owning them - not the most rational response probably. Any suggestions?

In reply to the mom whose son keeps losing things, I disagree with you. I think not buying him things until he stops losing them is a very rational response. Letting him get along without the things he loses and/or letting him buy his own replacements (even cheap watches work for awhile) seems like an appropriate response. Both of my daughters lost things - one still does, regularly. At 18 she is now responsible for keeping track of her own things and replacing them - if she wants to. It hasn't improved her lose rate noticeably, but it's removed the irritation for me very efectively! Good luck! Sue

Actually, the most rational response to a 16 year old who loses things is not buy him or her anything more to lose. Let them earn their own money and observe whether they can hold on to their hard-earned purchases. It's irresponsible of a parent to feed a child's irresponsibility and very rational to let them know that you don't have deep pockets to continually replace their things. If they lose something, they weren't meant to keep it. In this way, perhaps they'll learn to live with less and enjoy life more. (And if he's forgetful no matter what you do, maybe your son is a free spirit whose spirit doesn't want material things--a metaphysical thought there). Anyway, keep your sanity and sense of humor by not buying into it--he won't freeze, he won't go without shoes and food, even if he loses all of those things (he probably has more shoes, food and clothes than he needs). --anonymous parent with a child like that for awhile.

Why is it not a rational response to stop buying things for a 16 year-old who loses them? I think that is the ONLY appropriate response, short of stapling them to him. Its easier not to lose a pager he paid for himself, and 16 is plenty old enough to be earning some money...either via extra work at home, or outside. Good luck, I'm only a year or two behind you in this. Heather

I think that is a VERY reasonable response. And in fact, if he hasn't already been given ongoing responsbility for paying for some of his own clothes and toys he should by now. I will pay up to what I consider a reasonable amount for new clothes for my 11 year old, BUT if he wants more expensive wear then he has to find a way to make $ for 25% of the cost (ie. if he wants $80 sneakers, he has to save up at least $20) or I'll take him to find styles at the thrift shop. Also, I buy him computer games, etc. from time to time, but if he wants more, again he has to save $.

My son can wash cars, cut grass, walk dogs, help clean out garages, etc. I stake him to rags, buckets, a manual mower, etc. At 16, your son can babysit, help a neighbor clean house, probably run errands (if he drives), or save some of his allowance, if he gets one (I do think that a regular after school job takes away from academics - a regular weekend job is probably okay). I think taking on this type of responsibility is good for kid's charactors. It teaches an appreciation for $ = work and the value of things(which is sometimes lost on kid's that have everything handed to them), it makes kids better consumers (are those $80 sneakers really worth it?), it encourages self-discipline (saving $ toward a goal) and it gives them a sense of self-esteem (achieving the goal). My husband and I also involve our kids (including the 6 year old to some degree) in household bill paying. We talk about what we have to pay for and g! en! erally how much we have to pay. We talk about mortages, interest payments, credit cards, and how banks, etc. are in the business of making $ off of you.

Most of our kids are going to have to work and support themselves someday, so I think giving them a sense of monetary responsibility EARLY is an important part of parenting (that is sometimes forgotten by us that have worked hard so that we CAN give to our kids). Karen

My daughter is the exact same way. She's 16 and just recently lost a brand new jacket purchased for school this year. My suggestion, and this has been working for my daughter, is make them financially responsible for the items they lose. If your son gets an allowance or he has a job, make him replace every item he's lost with something comparable in value.

Teenagers nowadays have far more material things than we had at their age and these items come to them far easier. They do not appreciate, cherish, or value their belongings because they have so much and they do not have to pay for them. Teenagers have to understand that every time they lose something, it costs somebody something. However, if they have to miss a few dances, or trips to the mall, or a couple of movies, or if they have to forgo the purchase of a new CD or video game until they've replaced that item they will begin to take better care of them, because now they are the ones who have to suffer the consequences of their carelessness. This is called taking responsibility. My daughter still loses things, however, she doesn't lose as much and she hates having to replace items with her own money. She's very frugal with her own money but the sky's the limit with mine. I've been doing this for a year and the aforementioned jacket is the only thing I've purchased that she has lost. If she loses or destroys anything she has purchased with her own money, I don't get bent out of shape because the loss is hers. But if she loses something that I have purchased or loses a gift she received from anyone else, I make her replace it with her own funds. My favorite line to say to her each time is this: Every time someone purchases something for you, they forgo the purchase of something else for themselves, and you will honor and respect their sacrifice.

I hope this works for you.