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A parent’s secret weapon for back-to-school: a Daily Report Card

A parent’s secret weapon for back-to-school: a Daily Report Card

August 21, 2020 at 10:54am

Parents and students are gearing up for the return of school amid the COVID-19 pandemic – some face-to-face, and many through online instruction. However back-to-school may look like at this time, experts at FIU’s Center for Children and Families recommend parents add a Daily Report Card (DRC) to their back-to-school checklist.

“Our research has shown that a DRC is very helpful in motivating children to get their work done effectively and efficiently,” said psychology Professor Gregory Fabiano. “If parents follow the format of the DRC, not only will they get their child to complete their schoolwork, but it will also help with their behavior at home.”

Here’s how parents can implement a DRC at home:

  1. Get organized. Set your child up for success by choosing a place that is prepped with all the supplies your child needs including pencils, paper, calculator or a computer and that is free of noise and distraction.
  2. Set Goals. Set daily goals with your child. Create three to five clearly defined behavioral goals that focus on areas that need improvement. Sample goals include completing all assignments for the day, trying the assignment on their own before asking for help, following instructions and participating in class.
  3. Set up a rewards system. Your child’s efforts to meet their daily report card goals will depend on the incentives and rewards you provide. Allowing your child to create the menu of rewards with your approval will increase their motivation to meet their goal. Rewards can include screen time, a special treat, art time, a day off from chores and staying up 30 minutes past bedtime.
  4. Monitor their progress. Let your child know throughout the day if they are meeting their goals. Remind your child of their goal and encourage them if they are struggling.
  5. Praise your child. Let your child know they did a great job, with genuine, specific or labeled praise. "I love how you stayed at the table and finished all your math assignments."
  6. Provide the reward. Make sure you provide the reward soon after the goal has been met. Connect the reward to the goals. "You're doing such a great job working hard on your math. You definitely earned that screen time today.”
  7. Tweak goals and rewards. As your child responds to the DRC, he should be able to meet behavior targets more consistently. When that happens, raise the bar. Instead of requiring him to follow class rules with three or fewer violations, for example, make it two or fewer violations. If you see your child is no longer motivated by a reward, change it to maintain their interest.
  8. Be consistent. The DRC only works if parents are consistent in implementing it. Make sure you hold yourself accountable to implement it on a daily basis. Create a visual board or have a special notebook to keep track of all goals and rewards.

“Perhaps the most important thing for a parent to remember is to remain positive,” Fabiano said. “It looks like the home instruction is going to be here for a while, so parents should work hard to catch their child doing the right thing and ignore minor negative behaviors. The goal should be at least three positive comments for every corrective comment or redirection.”

If you think your child may be experiencing symptoms that are interfering with daily functioning, contact the FIU Center for Children and Families at 305-348-0477 for help.