Excerpts taken from full article originally featured on boystown.org/parenting.
We’ve all heard “Mom, I have this permission slip for a field trip. It’s due today.” If I’m being honest, I hear it several times a year! My daughters struggle to stay organized once they leave school for the day. They’re so excited to come home and watch Netflix or play with the neighbor kids, that they forget I’m supposed to sign them up to go to the zoo.
From their teacher’s perspective, it has to be frustrating to remind students over and over again to get their slips turned in. How do we help them get organized?!
Studies show that students are generally more impulsive and distracted than adults and they often don’t make decisions with long term consequences in mind. Hopping off the bus, dropping their backpacks in their room and getting outside to enjoy the rest of the evening clouds their memory of their permission slip.
This can make it difficult for teachers (and parents) to understand why students are so forgetful with homework, permission slips and textbooks. However, describing complex skills in simple behavioral steps, makes it easier for kids to learn how to prioritize, plan and, ultimately, prosper in the classroom and at home.
Bryan Smith’s book, It Was Just Right Here, discusses organization as a part of his Executive FUNction series. Blake is struggling to keep his schoolwork and things in order. Assignments and permission slips always go missing. Even the class pet disappears! But, after a much needed lesson from his teacher (and a timely baseball analogy), Blake starts to understand—organization is key.
To that end, the education experts at Boys Town have developed a contract to help set expectations for your student’s efforts with homework and studying, as well as their parents’ participation in their education. Download the contract, discuss it with your student and have their parent sign it so that everyone involved knows where they stand for the upcoming school year. This contract is great for teachers and parents!
Here are some helpful tips to speaking with your students about their Success Contract:
- Remind children of “Grandma’s Rule”: If you finish your homework, then you can have free time.” Children are more likely to do homework if they schedule study time for right after school, before they can watch TV, play on the computer or go to a friend’s house. The same holds true in the classroom. Let your students know that they can have extra recess or a snack time after their work is complete.
- Advise parents to schedule study time to fit your family’s routine. Doing homework right after school works best for some, but if your child is involved in after-school activities, or both parents work outside the home and want to be there to help, then an early-evening study time might work better. For elementary-school children, study time might last 30 to 45 minutes; for junior high students, 45 to 75 minutes; and for high school students, 60 to 90 minutes. Set a positive example for your children. Read a book, work on the computer or make a grocery list while they are doing homework. Leave the TV and radio off.
- It is crucial for parents to be "plugged-in" to their child's school life. Studies show that parental involvement in school is closely tied to children's success in school. Even as a busy parent, they can do some simple things such as asking their children about their school day or visiting the school, even if it's just for a quick lunch with their child. Make the parent feel comfortable, so that they can (and will) reach out if there are issues.
Once students learn how to plan, organize and manage their time, it’s important to continue to reinforce those qualities.