Alright, whether you like it or not, the time is approaching. Get your new sneakers ready, get your notebooks secured in your binders and zip up that bookbag…schools almost back in session.
As the sun rises on a new school year, there are going to be new challenges, new breakthroughs, new pains, new gains. However, there are going to be many more things that will be able to predict with good certainty:
You pretty much know what the morning routine is going to look like. You pretty much know what the evening routine is going to look like. This goes for your kids just as much as it does you and your spouse. The time ticks quicker when there is a bus waiting and homework has to be done. It is just the reality of the school year.
“This year will be different…”
…you say, as you promise yourself to make more healthy lunches, not get involved in the parent pickup-line gossip, and finally be nice to that principal who looks like she always smells something bad.
Here is your opportunity. Ride the wave of the new year anticipation and complete the BehaviorBandAid checklist for the new school year. Answer these questions and you will be on your way to a more successful and predictable school year!
1. When and where homework will be done?
2. What can the kids earn for completing their homework? (Yes, even if it is the opportunity to play or watch TV, kids should have some reinforcement for completing homework on a daily basis).
3. Is there a cut-off time for working on homework (a time when, regardless of completion, you turn out the lights)? I strongly suggest this and will write more on it as we enter the school year.
4. How will you know what your kid has been assigned for HW? Do you trust that source (if not, how will you remedy this)?
5. Will you check the quality and completion of homework prior to delivery of preferred activities?
1. What time will you get your kids up? (knowing you will need to get up 15-30 minutes prior to this to stay sane)
2. What is the routine in the morning? Are preferred activities such as watching cartoons, playing on the computer, or having a special breakfast options for getting ready “on time” and can you control that?
3. What time is “ready on time?”
4. What does “ready on time” specifically mean? (I strongly suggest having this written out or in pictures…decide what the “requirements” are for “being ready.” Be very specific and post it on the fridge).
1. Are there daily “chores” or activities that need to be done after they get home from school? (cleaning room, laundry, etc.)?
2. Are there preferred activities that you can control that will be available after daily chores and homework are done (play outside, Nintendo, iPad, computer, etc.)?
4. When can the TV be turned on and when does it have to be turned off? Is there a rule for who can watch TV (based on HW or chore completion)? How will you control that (i.e. make sure the TV is off when it is supposed to be off)?
5. What does the evening routine require? (bath, teeth brushing, pajamas, etc.)? What does “ready for bed” mean?
6. Are there preferred activities that are accessible only if the night routine is completed on time (special books being read, more TV time, night time snack, extended lights-on time, etc.)?
7. When is lights out?
The reason I have made this list for you is there is so much to be said for being prepared, having a consistent plan and deciding, up front, how you are going to respond to certain behavioral opportunities. For example, if you decide that the kids get special treats in the car on the way to school for being ready on time, go ahead and make up the specific rules for that. Otherwise, you are going to get caught in the rut of threatening punishment as you are running around the house trying to get everyone ready, but in the meantime all you do is get everyone in a bad mood.
Be proactive. Plan your positive strategies so you don’t have to resort to the old stuff that never really worked in the first place.