Years ago, we received a note from Will’s fifth grade teacher. She just wanted us to know that Will had gotten a zero on some homework because he did not turn it in. When we questioned Will about it, he admitted that he had not done the homework. I asked him, “Why not?”
His response, “I had soccer practice.”
Was that supposed to make sense to us? Patricia and I looked at one another and decided to have a short parent meeting in our room. After discussing the situation, we decided to do nothing . . . until the next soccer practice. Our plan was this: zero on homework = zero soccer practice. We let the coach know, but not Will.
When it was time to go to soccer, he was ready. “No soccer today,” we said. Then we explained our zero/zero consequence. HE LISTENED REALLY WELL. After that day, we didn’t have problems with zeroes on homework.
Since school is just beginning for this school year, let’s look at a few thoughts that might be helpful. Patricia and I are teachers. We were both good students, and we expected our children to do well in school. Nevertheless, we did not take it for granted that they would do well. We plowed the ground and sowed the seed to reap the right kind of harvest. You can do the same.
1. We limited video, TV, and video games to the weekends. Monday night through Thursday night were for studies. The whole household lived by this rule. The TV was off. We all worked during the week. We might play a game together or do something fun, but video was not the answer. (There were some exceptions but they were rare). By making school and studies top priorities, we gained a lot of peace in our home. If mom and dad agree, this is a very helpful habit to build in your home.
2. Patricia scheduled their time after school: Snack time, playtime, practice-time, study-time, dinnertime, family time, Bible time, bedtime. We were flexible, we adjusted as necessary, but we had a plan and worked it. It worked.
3. We had a place for homework for each of the children. Since the kids were different, they studied better at different places. Some at the table where we could see them, others in their rooms, others in the living room. We found what worked best for each one and that’s what they did. When some needed help, we were near.
4. We kept their supplies close by. This was probably our weakest point because there were six of them and we tended to share supplies in order to save money.
5. We checked on them. We checked their work, if necessary.
Patricia and I are not special people. We didn’t do special things. We did proven things. We did ordinary things consistently. That’s all. If you do these same kinds of things that others passed on to us, you will get similar results. If you plant apple seeds, you reap apples. If you plant acorns, you get oaks. If you uproot video and plant schedule and place and supplies and check-up, you will reap better students . . . perhaps not immediately, but eventually.
As you begin this school year, prayerfully decide what you want over the long haul, and set your kids up for success.