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The Coolidge Family Rule

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The start of school is only a week away in most districts, so I thought it wise to revisit "The Coolidge Family Rule." If you didn't try it last year, I urge you to do so this year. And I'd love feedback on how it worked for your student.

We’ve all heard the statement, “You only have one chance at first impressions” and the impression we make on our teachers is no different. Part of assuring a successful school year is making sure our teachers think well of us from the beginning.

The Coolidge Family Rule is this: for the first 2 weeks of any school year, have your student do everything right. Sit up front if possible, sit up straight, make eye contact with the teacher, be prepared. Have books, binders, pencils, and pens. Arrive on time. Turn in all homework. Laugh at the teacher’s jokes. Listen when he talks.

The result of this is that your child will always get the benefit of the doubt. If later he misses an assignment, we will be surprised but forgiving. If he accidentally talks to another student, we’re likely to recognize it as an anomaly and think it might be important.

On the other hand, if the student begins the school year inattentive, slouched in his desk, remiss about homework, and talking when he should be listening, the teacher will assume he is a “bad kid” or at least a kid who doesn’t care. Teachers are busy; they are going to give their time, energy, and attention to kids who want to do well.

The larger and more important outcome of this commitment to perfection is two-fold. First, your student will start to form the habit of good behavior and the odds are that he will continue the practice even when the 2 weeks are up. Secondly, your student will feel good; he will see the benefits of good behavior and teacher appreciation and he will gladly continue the habit.

Try it. We can do almost anything for only 2 weeks. And the benefits are huge!