Reinforcing Classroom Expectations at Home
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As parents, we all want to hear good reports about our child’s behavior at school. We look for smiley faces on behavior calendars, gold stars on foreheads, and prizes from the treasure box. In all of our excitement, we also need to remember that when our kids have a great day at school, they deserve a pat on the back at home, too. This not only shows that we are proud of our children’s accomplishments, it also supports the home-school connection.
How can we reward good kids without breaking the bank or giving in to their sweet tooth every day? Here are a few ideas:
- Extra Screen Time. We all know that kids need to be active, and to play outside, so as parents, we need to monitor how much screen time our children get each day, either on the computer or on TV. Use this time as a reward, and allow your child to earn time watching television or playing on the computer. For instance, good behavior at school might earn enough time to watch one episode of a favorite show. Or, screen time might be earned 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and saved up to be able to see a special movie over the weekend.
- Play Date. Your child might want to earn a play date with a friend by showing good behavior at school all week. This gives both kids something to work for and look forward to each day.
- Saturday on the Go. Positive school behavior could earn a special event or outing on Saturday. Ask your child what he would like to do. Go to a movie? Grab a pizza? Go to the arcade? Have a day at the beach? Visit the zoo? Kids are more likely to work for a reward that is important to them.
- Special Privileges. Does your child always want to stay up late on Friday nights? Does she want to skip making the bed once in awhile? Would she like to take care of the neighbor’s gerbil while they are away? Does she want to talk on the phone? Would she like to choose the video for family movie night? Use these privileges as rewards.
- Change it Up. Give your child the chance to save money for a trip to the Dollar Store, or for a larger, more expensive prize, by giving him a dime or quarter for each positive behavior report from school. As an added bonus, kids can practice counting money each day, and trade smaller coins for larger coins or bills of equivalent value.
For some kids, good behavior on four out of five days each week might be a real accomplishment. Determine whether rewards will be earned each day, or by following school rules for three days in a row, an entire week, or a certain number of days total. Adjust the reward to fit your child’s needs. Also, keep in mind that for a reward to work, it must be something that is important to that particular child. Rewarding your child’s positive behavior at school is a great way to encourage that behavior to continue.
On the other hand, misbehavior at school should be addressed at home, as well. Children need to know that you value the importance of classroom rules, and that you and the teacher are a team in your child’s education. Be sure to discuss the behavior, why it occurred, and what your child plans to do differently in the future.
Obviously, on days when a child chooses not to follow the rules, rewards will be withheld. Another possible consequence might be time-out that equals one minute for each year of the child’s age. Still another consequence could be the loss of privileges, activities, or toys. Not allowing video games, television, skateboards, or other favorites is a memorable result of misbehavior. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering consequences:
- An activity or privilege must be important to the child in order for its loss to be effective.
- The punishment should fit the crime. For example, a child who talks back to the teacher might be expected to write a letter of apology to her. Also, the consequences for talking in line should not be as severe as those for bullying a classmate.
- Consistency is key. Children should know exactly what to expect when they follow the rules and when they do not.
Hopefully, reinforcing positive behavior will be reward enough to encourage children to follow classroom rules. This can be a giant first step toward an outstanding school year!
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