Your school experience last year seemed like it was headed toward World War III, on a slightly smaller scale.
Between the fights about grades and the issues with behavior, you were fit to tear your hair out.
Let’s just say: last year was rough!
Here’s how to make this year awesome!
Right now, call a family meeting. Talk honestly about what happened at school last year. Write down what went right and what went off track. For each situation or big topic that didn’t go so smoothly, really dig deep to figure out where it went wrong.
Be super honest with yourself and each other.
Was homework a battle because you took a hands-off approach? Was the work challenging and you, as parents, didn’t have the tools to help? Was it a location issue, with too many distractions and too much rushing?
Were grades slipping because the work was too hard? Or were too many things on the schedule? Did your child have the right tools and skills to succeed in the classroom?
When and where were behavior issues popping up? Who was your child with and what were they doing? What were the consequences, if any?
Write it all down. Then let everything sit for 24 to 48 hours. Everyone should reflect on what you talked about.
For every area that was a trouble spot, create a poster. You’ll need big poster paper or a giant sticky note pad. Find these are office supply stores.
On each poster paper, write down one problem across the top as the title. Underneath write why it was an issue (who, what, when, where, why, how). Use your notes from the other night.
As a family, come up with solutions and consequences. Here are some samples:
Behavior: Sam had trouble focusing in class and was constantly talking to his classmates.
Solution: Talk to the teacher before the year starts and let her know that this has been an issue in the past. Request that your child is seated with quiet students or separately.
Consequences: If Sam receives more than three warnings about talking or acting out in a week he will lose (TV, soccer, favorite toy, screen time, etc.).
Rewards: If Sam is able to go 2 weeks without warnings, he will get (ice cream, a sleep over, new toy, extra screen time, etc.).
Grades: Julie is struggling in math because she doesn’t understand fractions.
Solution: We will hire a tutor to help Julie learn fractions and understand new math concepts.
Rewards: If Julie is able to earn (85%+) grades on three math tests or quizzes in a row, she will earn (screen time, ice cream, slumber party, etc.).
Consequences: If Julie’s grades dip AND there is evidence she is not trying her hardest, she will lose (screen time, dessert, softball, etc.)
The key to making these new goals work is honesty in the family meeting and willingness to go all in with helpful solutions. Another important part is letting the child choose the rewards and consequences. If they have a hand in making the system, they are much more likely to follow it.
Need help with your goals and solutions? Get in touch! Let’s see if we can find ways to solve your problems together!
Whatever you write on your charts it’s important to follow through. Put your posters up somewhere in your home where you can see them daily.
Sure, they might clash with your decor, but education is more important than your shabby chic style. If you can see something often, chances are that you will stick to it more often.
Once you decide on a solution (tutoring, rewards/consequences, counseling, etc.), get on it right away. Contact professionals who can help you or reach out to the school for recommendations. If the teacher needs to be involved, let them know the plan and what you would like to see happen.
As you start school and work through the fall, check in with your goals often. Have more family meetings to talk about how things are going. Are you all doing your part to meet the goals you talked about? What needs to be changed or tweaked?
Keep track of your child’s successes! Use a chart to track awesome grades or days with good behavior. Make a big deal when they reach a milestone and earn a reward.
After about 3-5 cycles on your original reward system, level up and make it harder. Instead of 3 good test grades, make it 5. Instead of 2 weeks of good behavior, make it a month. Eventually, you can lose the rewards altogether because the new system will have become THE system!
Go all in
It’s super important that the whole family, or at least the parents and individual child involved, be all in on these goals.
The more invested everyone is, the better the results. I’ve seen this time and time again in the classroom. When everyone buys in, the system works!
When you all are honest about concerns, thoughtful in finding solutions, and consistent in your follow through, your school year can be awesome!