My Back to School Promise to My Daughters

This week my daughters had to sign a Code of Behavior Agreement for their Hebrew School.  It stated that they wouldn’t use electronic devices at school, would arrive on time, respect others and the property and basically act like a decent human being.  Not much to ask for.  At their real school the discipline code is a ridiculous generic booklet sent home by the DOE that reads more like a legal document and doesn’t mean anything to a child.  Either way, the idea of child signing a slip of paper as a way to enforce real respect and civility is a waste of time.  The real code of behavior comes from home where expectations are discussed, debated and understood.  Same is true in effective classrooms.  And that is all well and good.  What I haven’t seen much of is a code of behavior to be signed by parents.  (or teachers and staff for that matter)  So I’m laying out my behavior contract for how I will help them with their educational goals and work for the year.

  1. I will provide an organized workspace for my kids.  Folders, pencil cases, supplies and quiet.  They will know where their stuff is, be able to find it and put it back themselves and feel like they have a real space to work.  It’s called the kitchen table but it’s theirs until dinner time.
  2. I will make them go to bed at a reasonable bedtime.  Isn’t that nice of me?
  3. I will not give them ready answers to homework problems or let them give up on difficult questions.
  4. I will volunteer – way too much – at their school, but still try to attend events with them.  This one is my tricky one.  The irony of being so heavily involved at the co-President level of the PA is that it sometimes comes at the expense of actually being there for your kid.  But, that’s something I’m getting better at balancing.
  5. I won’t embarrass them.  (well, not intentionally anyway)

And really I don’t know what else to say.  There’s the important stuff like fighting budget cuts and pushing for better and more challenging curriculum and enrichment but those are huge, big picture items that are part of my job.  I wish I could promise that I won’t complain in front of them about the things that make me nuts at their school and at the Department of Education, but that would be almost impossible.

So, that’s it.  That’s my code of behavior for the year.  I wonder what would happen if schools really did make parents sign contracts – and held them to it – and vice versa.  What do you think you can do to help your child’s education goals for the year?

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9 replies on “My Back to School Promise to My Daughters”

  1. I definitely follow 1-3. I teach at the same school where my boys are, so volunteering is difficult. I’m still helping to make their school the best school it can be – just from a different perspective. My younger son typically finishes all of his homework right in my classroom after school. My older son needs a break before he does his homework and I respect that.

    And I try my hardest, truly, to follow number 5. I love when I get to see my boys during the school day. What I love even more is that they are still excited when they see me and will come give me a hug. And they’re in 4th & 6th grade!!

  2. I agree with four out of the five. As for number four, I will volunteer a reasonable amount. There is no need for the burden to fall on only a few parents, which is what happens when a small group is willing to do too much and pick up the slack. I had to decide a few years ago that I was not going to be a slack-picker-upper any more and I’m way happier. (Also, I agree with number five, I just don’t think I have any control over it.)

    1. I am so waiting for that day – though I think we’ve gotten much better at our school at spreading the volunteerism. Big school events take a ton of parent muscle or they just don’t happen anymore.

  3. It’s true that it’s most of the parents who are at fault with teaching their kids good study habits and simple respect in the classroom. My kids think I’m mean because I make them do their homework when they get home from school and because I won’t give them the answers outright. Our children know exactly what we expect from them… homework done before TV, early bedtimes, help around the house. It’s so easy if you implement it right from the start.

  4. I love this list and will pass it on. I have a suggestion that has worked for the many many Moms (mostly) I speak to from running the amazing tutoring resource group we created – “I will set up a white-board in plain site so that our goals and plans and promises will be seen by all”. This is an amazing tool that has changed the lives of 100’s of our families – schoolwork, homework, schedules, etc… Always so wonderful to have the visual.

  5. This is a great list – I’m about 4 for 5…well, hmmm…more realistically 3/5…I mean I don’t THINK I embarass my daughter!

    In fact, I think you should hand this out at your school…on curriculum night. Some parents just don’t ‘get it’ or need to be reminded of their role in their kids’ education.

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