Going back home
  • The last, lazy days of school
  • Take back the responsibility for educating your child
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    Juggling Act

    Writing a back to school contract

    It’s back to school time and at our house we are trying something different this year. My 15-year-old daughter and I entered into a contract outlining the expectations for the school year.

    As a 10th grader, she’s entering critical parts of her high school experience, both academic and social. Now is the time when she not only must make sure she’s taking the appropriate courses required for college, she also has to be mindful of grades. She also wants time to hang out with friends at football games and other activities. So, I figured that my daughter, who only sees the floor of her closet every few months when I insist that she clear it out, might benefit from an organizational contract.  It also would be a preventive measure for some of the issues we dealt with last school year. For example, my daughter would claim that she was studying while sending text messages to friends, who claimed they were studying too. I don’t think so.

    We developed a contract outlining study time on weekdays and weekends. During these hours she must put away her IPod and cell phone. We set a daily curfew for texting and use of the internet and IPod. She got Fabulous Fridays, when she can do whatever she wants after school– go to a football game, hang out with friends, watch a movie, read a book. We figured out a schedule for weekly chores around the house and formalized family dinner at least three times during the week and on Sundays. We’ll also huddle on Sunday evenings to synchronize schedules for the upcoming week and talk about any problems. Most importantly, my daughter agreed to do her best academically.

    Of course, all contracts have penalties and we included some in ours: loss of computer, IPod and texting time, for instance. There are benefits, too. My daughter wants a new cell phone, and if all goes well the first semester, she’ll be able to get one at the end of the year.

    The first few days of school have gone well. Today, my daughter got back in bed after her alarm clock went off but when she finally got up, she moved in a whirlwind to dress, grab a breakfast  bar and walk out the door at 6:20 a.m. to catch the school bus. The high schools start early here in Charlotte and getting to the bus stop on time last school year was challenging for my daughter. This year, I told her, I am no longer offering  taxi service. It’s in the contract.

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