How to keep your kid in school.

(Luka, the only reader in his preschool class.)

Many of y'all probably heard about Old Navy sponsoring The Old Navy Attendence Pledge in 2010, and the subsequent free shopping spree provided to kids from several schools in Dallas ISD and ISDs all over the U.S. if they pledged to attend class more often.

Getting them there is indeed half the battle when it comes to success in school.

I have a certain neighborhood friend who doesn't see the problem with bringing her daughter to school (kindergarten) at 10am, well after the 8am bell has rung, hanging out in a local coffee shop with her until they "feel" like going.

Conversely, I have another certain neighborhood friend who volunteers to chaperone Latin tournaments, even when his kid, one of Quinn's friends, is not competing. I think about the messages both of these parents are sending their kids about the importance of school, just by their actions.

What do I do to help Quinn and Luka stay interested, excited, and IN school? Ok, I don't have to try *so* hard with Quinn, he is beaucoup compliant. Luka? Eh, not so much.

1. Timing: Get them on a do-able schedule in the morning that includes breakfast and time to wind-up without feeling rushed. They get protein and strawberries to boost their cognitive abilities on test days. Otherwise, I just tell them they have to eat SOMETHING. My husband drives Luka to Kindergarten in our neighborhood public school every morning on his way to work. Then I make sure Quinn gets to his local public high school an hour later. A timing routine lets the kids know that them being in school is our number one priority every single day, and everything else revolves around this.

2. Clothing: I make sure their uniforms (yes, our public schools require uniforms) are all clean and ready for the week, so there's no scrambling for what to wear. Smooth transition on Mondays are facilitated by having everything ready and laid out the night before. For Luka, shoes with velcro are essential...little fingers that have not mastered tying shoelaces don't need yet another reason to slow them down. And until that child is in about 2nd grade, he gets pants with elastic waistbands and no buttons or zippers. Why make his life harder?

3. Homework: I ask them every day when I pick them up "What did you do today at school? What did you learn? Do you have any homework?". And I never settle for the answers "Nothin'" or "Nope". If they see that I place high importance on what they do at school all day, then they place high importance on school themselves. And the first thing we tackle when we get home is the homework. Homework is all packed up back into the backpacks before playtime, so it's ready for the next day.

There are a lot of things that schools don't teach kids, that a parent needs to tackle. Like time management skills. Breaking big projects down into bite-sized pieces. Managing up when you get a bad boss (teacher). Being a leader. Setting a good example. Doing more than you're asked. Giving them these tools to succeed makes their homework easier for them, their class time more engaging, and their behavior at school improve.

4. Priorities: We make sure that all homework is completed before playing after school. We make sure that we consider sleep schedules and mealtime schedules before committing to any activity outside of the family. I always talk to them about priorities. Luka now quotes back "Work first, then play." He even makes up homework to do while Quinn does his, so as not to feel left out.

5. Involvement: I donate snacks to Luka's class for snacktime, and books to his classroom. I attend all the parent/teacher conferences. I volunteer to bring treats or supplies to teachers. Showing kids that you are involved, whether financially or with your time, at their school, shows them that being there is important to you. If there is a school event that coincides with something else fun that I might personally want to do, the school event always comes first. Again, I am showing my kids where my priority is (them being in school).

6. Rewards: We have a "good boy" sticker chart for Luka on the refrigerator. He gets a sticker if he receives a happy face at school that day. That means he followed all the directions. Whew! I daily tell the boys how proud I am of them for what they accomplished THAT DAY, and how smart they are, and what good boys they are. My friend Malena takes her boys for ice cream every Friday after school if they both get all happy faces all week. Praise and rewards go a long way toward keeping Luka excited about doing good work and making good choices.

Quinn? I got lucky with him...he's kinda self-motivated.

Subscribe to Mommy's Wish List for more parenting tips.


Stephanie said...

I leave fun and encouraging notes on the napkin in the lunch bag.

Terri said...

I am so lucky to have three kids that want to go to school. My son even gets irritated with me if I have to take him out early for a Dr. appt. I have AMAZING kids!

Anonymous said...

I have 2 kids in school, and I do alot of the same things you said, I always make sure they go to bed and get up the same schedule each day, so as not to be late, their homework always comes before anything else after school, and I show my supporty in anything they might be doing in school. karasceviour at hotmail dot com

Angie said...

These are all so important!!! We get an immediate start on all projects. Kids ned to feel the urgency to get their work done in a timely fashion(like at work Mom and Dad!)

rennieangie at gmail dot com

Amanda said...

my daughter is pretty young still so school is like playtime to her. She loves it! Hopefully that attitude continues once she hits long division! :)
amandadean526 (at) gmail (dot) com

shirley said...

We talk about school a lot, and go over work for the day and homework, and try to keep things running smooth during the week.

Josee said...

When my boys spend time doing homework they get extra hours playing on the computer.
Thanks for the giveaway :)
jokparent at hot mail dot com

Aimee said...

I've never had much of a problem with my son & school. He loved it when he was young & he's old enough now that he knows it's necessary. My daughter is little yet & can't wait to go to school.


Keri {One Mama's Daily Drama} said...

My kids love school, though my preschooler much more than my 1st grader. This year I joined the PTA, so I'm a lot more involved than I have been in the past. The kids love that they see me at school sometimes!


olivia said...

communication is key...incentives don't hurt either

sodahoney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I have one child in 1st grade and one in preschool so luckily, at this point, they both enjoy it. To keep it fun, I try and volunteer in their classes as much as possible. They love it when I show up in "their" world!

Unknown said...

oh, and my email is w.annbritton@gmail.com!

Thanks for the opportunity!

Sheila Hickmon said...

We talk about school a ton and we stay very invovled with her school activities. We do homework as soon as she gets home, so that we have plenty of time for playing.
I'm really lucky though, my daughter loves school!

Thanks for the giveaway!
fineinsanity {at} live {dot} com

cindi said...

i have one in public school who is regularly in need of "encouragement"...so, i love on him a lot b4 he goes to school...have rewards for him every day after school...and we go out every Friday for ice cream...today, i took him lunch!

my dtr is homeschooled and i remind her that the reward for being homeschooled is no. TAKS. test. ha. that helps her keep perspective! plus, we do LOTS of fun activities that she wd not get to do if she were in public school.

thanks, LA!!

Kristy said...

My girls love school and I'm so thankful. I think that if parents stay involved, so will kids.

Tracy R said...

I don't have any kids but I totally heart Old Navy for my own clothes!

sodahoney said...

Brainwashing. Starting early real young you talk about the importance of education, how fun it is to be smart, how interesting learning is, etc. Train the early

allthingsnew said...

My daughter isn't in school yet, but I plan to be really excited about her school work and really involved in her classroom as long as I can be. I hope this will make her as interested as possible and help her stay in school! Also, as my 3-year-old neighbor reminded me today, "You are the boss of Abby", so...if I say she goes, I guess she has to go :)

Unknown said...

I stay involved in their school.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Unknown said...

We follow a daily schedule, do homework together, and I leave notes in my sons lunchbox. He loves school!


floating said...

I always help with homework, ask if there is any and in the morning make sure it is ready to go

Christie said...

I don't have kids, but I do remind my niece how important it is for her to wash her hands a ton so she doesn't get sick!

Anonymous said...

My boy isn't quite school age yet, but we sure are learning lots at home right now! And he looooves Old Navy!


Debbie said...

Mine are all teens and I try to still keep abreast of what they are doing in school. I read each school's announcements daily, keep up with their grades online and try to give them postive feedback for being organized and doing well.

Joe said...

We reward with special family outings and have performance determine our daughter's level of involvement in extra-curricular activities.

Joe Thompson

Mari said...

I help my foster son with his homework and check it when he's finished it. I praise him and encourage him, but most of all, it is important to lead by example.

We spend at least a half hour outside, he helps me garden, or my dh will play football with him.

runningmatey at hotmail dot com

Lori Sifuentes said...

I pick up my son from school and we go to the park and talk about what he learned in school. I am very lucky to have a child who is excited about school.


Melissa said...

I get up early to make my daughter breakfast and pack her lunch, pick up her friends on our way to school all in an effort to show my TEEN, Mom is always here and loves you completely and unconditionally!! I am so very proud of her and her dedication to her school work!!!

Barbara Montag said...

I get up early & make breakfast.
We all have time to chat & I think that's a big help in keeping the kids in school.
Breakfast helps their concentration so much.
barbara dot montyj at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

My son actually loves to go to school. I packed him a nice healthy lunch with stuff he enjoys. I try to tell him that it's important to do your best in school, so he can succeed in life. I try to do things to make learning fun..
Thanks for the giveaway!

Angela P

tristatecruisers said...

My kids like going to school--they enjoy seeing their friends everyday and i'm pretty lucky for it. :)

tristatecruisers at yahoo dot com

Cori Westphal said...

My kids understand that school is a part of life and you don't have a choice. You need it in life and there are tons of great reasons why you must finish. I'm glad they get it!

coriwestphal at msn dot com
Cori Westphal

Liz said...

I make sure their clothes are ready the night before and that their homework is not only done but put away in their school bags to prevent last-minute rushing!

Liz M.
eemoody77 at gmail dot com

Tabathia B said...

I have 3 in school and due to the economy they understand that a good education is key to finding a good job (the two oldest) and love school activities and my younger daughter loves music and we encourage her to join chorus
tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

katychick said...

i give my kids rewards- if they hve perfect attendance on their report card- they get cash.
tcogbill at live dot com

The Cluck Wagon said...

I stay involved - ask questions about their day and what they learned, what was good, if anything was bad. You have to be interested if you want them to be interested.


L Howard said...

I make sure to ask about school. If you seem excited, your kids will be excited too, atleast until they are teenagers lol
lhoward916 at gmail dot com

skkorman said...

My boy Joey loves to learn, and we read together nearly every night!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

carmen said...

I'd love to win this! Our kids are currently not in school yet, but we are starting young by encouraging learning and curiosity at all times--whether we're at the grocery store, reading in bed, etc. We hop to teach them to cultivate it as a lifelong pursuit!

- Carmen
junkforcarmen at gmail dot com

Julie said...

My daughter is a junior in high school. She is in high school choir and Quiz Busters which I am involved in. I keep her encouraged by making positive remarks to her
thanks for the giveaway and have a great day

Teresa said...

My daughter will soon be 4 1/2 and I am working with her at home right now. She loves "school" and I have preschool books and software that I use to keep her interested.


Unknown said...

they know that a great education is needed to suceed in this world and I always make sure they know that.


Anonymous said...

My daughter just turned 5. I use incentive charts from K12 school supplies. She love keeping track of her accomplishments on the little charts.