Have you ever been pulled over for speeding or another traffic violation? Whether it was going over the posted speed limit or running a red light my guess is you knew exactly why the lights on the police car lit up. Why is this? Because there are clearly posted signs to tell us the speed limit and there are universal vehicle laws that we all must learn to get our driver’s license. You may be thinking, “What does a speeding ticket have to do with my child’s school experience?” Well, do your children know the posted speed limits in your home and the rules they must follow? Are they aware of the consequences for “breaking the law”?
As you head into the new school year it is important to be clear with the rules, expectations and “speeding limits” you have for each of your children. The easiest way to do this is to create a contract at the beginning of each school year. This contract is as much for you as it is for your children. Your children desire to know when and how they will be punished. For example, one time you may let go of a missing assignment or low grade and then out of nowhere the next missing assignments warrants losing a phone for a week. Is that fair? Is that teaching your children to live in the same parameters of rules and laws we live in? The answer is NO! It’s important our children know the rules and punishments clearly beforehand.
Here are some important things to include in your contract:
- Grades and GPA. It’s important to have subjective and objective aspects for GPA and grades. For example, “We expect you to try your hardest and get a B+ or higher in each of your classes. The way we will know you are trying your hardest is by weekly check-ins at a Homework Meeting.”
- Missing or late assignments. Make sure to put a limit of assignments and clear expectations of how to get assignments in on time.
- If the school allows retaking of tests (yes, many schools are now letting children re-take tests) you as a parent can limit the number of tests your child can retake. Retaking a test for better understanding is one thing while some children will just retake tests because they never studied and weren’t prepared for the exam.
- Bringing missing items to school (library books, musical instruments, homework, gym shoes, etc.). If your child forgets something at home do you run it right to school? Maybe once in a school year but if that becomes a habit you are not helping your child.
- Study habits. Where and when studying will happen may be a struggle for some families so this may need to be included in the contract.
- Home expectations (cell phone policies, chores, behavior).
- Other behaviors or issues in school that have frustrated you or your child in the past. Create clear boundaries with your child so this year can be different.
Going through the school year without a contract and clear expectations is like driving down a road not knowing the speed limit, hoping you don’t get a ticket. It’s important for your child to know what will happen if a “law” is broken. And it will also be easier for you to give that punishment if you have stated it well in advance.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
By Megan Stone, M.Ed.
Wife to Rick
Mom of two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc.
Author of Own Your Education! A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (And Life)