Having a bad day at school does not mean they have to have a bad day at home.
3:12 PM: Mary’s pouting face at car pickup is all her mom needs to know. Her bookbag is dragging behind her as she walks slowly to the car. NOT normal.
“Did you have a good day, honey?” her mother says, knowing the answer. “NO,” Mary is quick to answer. “Can I see your folder?”
As Mary flops the folder onto the console, her mother can read the teacher’s note and see the color drawn on the calendar.
“Red day, huh? Why did you hit Joshua on the playground today? It says here you had to be reminded to be a good friend several times today? You did have a bad day.”
“Red” days happen, but should your plan at home include behavior from school?
Your child’s teacher might not do the “traffic light” system, but likely has something similar. Whether it is a smiley face system, traffic light system, or some other way the teacher communicates to you about behavior at school, many parents wonder if the note from home should dictate what happens, good or bad, at home.
Here are the things to think about:
1. If you are having behavior troubles at home and are working on those, I recommend against bringing school behavior home, especially punishing for “red days.” It might be a good idea to reinforce “green days,” but I want to keep that separate from your system at home.
I do not want your child coming home from a bad day at school and not having the opportunity to earn privileges or rewards for home behavior.
Do not miss the opportunity to reinforce good home behavior because he had a bad day at school. Start fresh, start new. You might be surprised at how quickly things can turn around.
2. If behavior at home is pretty much under control, adding a little extra reward or positive options for a “green day” is a good thing to do. On “red days,” those extra rewards would simply not be available. I would not go overboard to punish “red days” for several reasons, but making life a little less interesting and having a few less options in the afternoon might be a good way to respond when things are not great at school.
3. As usual, make sure these rules are made ahead of time. Make sure this is not some random call you make as you are driving away from the school or opening up the bookbag to see your child’s agenda book.
Remember: It is important to know the teacher’s system
There are so many different ways teachers use these systems and communicate with parents, that it is important to talk to your child’s teacher about it. Some teacher’s “red” is another teacher’s “yellow,” which is another teacher’s “green” because she tends to ignore more than the others. You might find out it is too subjective or punitive to use at all at home (and that might be a great decision). You might completely agree with the way your child’s teacher operates and can inform him or her about what you are doing at home to make it as consistent as possible.
I would love to hear any stories about your experiences with “red” and “smiley face” days and how this worked or didn’t at your home. Leave a comment and share your thoughts…