When you ask your child to do something, you should give him or her clear parameters. They function much better when they know what is expected of them. This applies to school-related issues as well as home issues. A contract will help you both keep focused. It will not only establish what is expected from the child, but will also help establish what is expected from you as well.
Attendance is half the battle. I don't know about you, but when my son says he is not feeling well I am hesitant about sending him to school. But sometimes, he is just tired or simply doesn't want to go. For this reason, we had to establish expectations when it comes to attendance. I have to follow the school guidelines, but I also have to leave some room for unexpected situations. Use your school guidelines to let your child know when it's okay to miss school. A fever, rash, or vomiting are most certainly good reasons, but simply not feeling well is not.
Make a schedule that works. Getting back into the routine of the school year can be difficult. Before the school year starts, take time to reflect on problem area from last year. Did your child do better on homework if he or she did it right after they got home, after a brief break, or after chores? Did you do anything to disrupt homework, like allowing younger siblings to interfere? Tackle these problem areas by creating a schedule that allows your child adequate time and space to do homework. Write the schedule into the contract, but make the schedule on a separate sheet so that you can both keep track of it.
Create performance expectations. Your contract should include measurable performance expectations. You can set an expectation of all 'A's, but you need to let your child know how to get there. For instance, you might write that your child can come to you for help with homework 10 times before you look for a tutor. You might also include that a specific amount of lower grades on papers leads to a specific amount of additional study time, while a specific amount of higher grades on papers leads to a specific reward. For instance, three 'C's might mean an extra 10 minutes of study time while three 'A's might mean 10 extra minutes of video game time.
More from this contributor…
Source: Personal Experience