As you all know, I have three boys. One is a junior, the other is in eighth-grade, and the youngest just started middle school. My oldest breezed throughout middle school exactly as he breezed through elementary. He never struggled with organization, he never asked for help on his assignments, he never for got anything and he always did his homework and aced his tests. I thought I was obviously doing something right! I must be an amazing parent!
Then, my middle son started middle school, and I was humbly reminded that I really don't have much control over my children! It was a nightmare. Every time I checked his grades, my blood pressure skyrocketed. I had a sore throat from yelling so much! WHAT WAS WRONG WITH MY CHILD? He did great in elementary, and suddenly he was getting Cs and even...gulp...Ds! Sometimes he would fail to turn in a project worth 100 points claiming, "I forgot." This was NOT acceptable. I am a teacher. My kids are supposed to be excellent students, right? The entire year was pretty much like riding a bike with square wheels. Exhausting!
That summer I thought of my options. Obviously, adoption wasn't one of them, so I had to come up with an alternative. I had heard our school counselor mention homework contracts to my students' parents (never thinking I would be one of those parents whose child might need one). I did a little investigating and came up with my own. In August, my husband and I created a united front and presented Nate with three documents. He had to read and sign each one. I also enlisted the help of his basketball coach, his idol. I told his coach that Nate might have to quit the team if he didn't get his grades up. He had a chat with Nate, and that certainly helped.
His second year of middle school was amazing. He made the honor roll! I rarely, if ever, had to nag him to finish assignments. It was joyous!
I share this with you in case you have a Nate now or in the future. I am attaching the contract documents I used, and you are welcome to use them! If you have a child like Nate, I feel your pain! It's both frustrating and exhausting. However, it is also possible to turn kids like Nate completely around. :) They are, after all, just twelve and thirteen. They need our guidance and encouragement, as well as our occasional discipline.
Nate's coach regularly asks Nate about his grades. Nate is so proud to tell him!
Consequences and Rewards