In Loco Parentis

The other week my daughter came home with information about a new classroom behavioral program that the teacher was implementing. I will call the program “Loco” so I do not get sued for disparaging their amazing product. Loco is supposed to act as a positive reinforcement tool to track your child’s behavior throughout their school day and create a tidy pie chart with a percentage given for positive behavior. The pie chart is broken down into segments detailing positive or negative actions of the student.

For instance, my daughter received points for actions such as “staying on task” or “helping others.” She got dinged for being “off task” at a different time and for “talking out of turn.” Each day, positive and negative behaviors are time-stamped to document when the praised behavior or offense occurred.

When my husband and I logged onto Loco for the first time, we were pretty shocked by this program. I can’t imagine how time-consuming it is for the teacher to continuously update real time information regarding each student and their various transgressions. The program seems big-brotherish to me.

We decided to enjoy the humor of Loco’s behavioral pie chart and not bother bringing any demerits up with our daughter, because presumably she has already been disciplined at school for being off-task or talking out of turn.

I’m not sure how effective a discipline strategy it would be to ask my daughter at bedtime why she was flapping her gums too much at 8:15 a.m. I also can’t imagine if adults had a Loco keeping them accountable all day long. This is what my Loco might report:

– 1 for hitting the snooze button multiple times (6:20 a.m.)

+ 1 for getting my daughter to the bus stop on time (7:10 a.m.)

+ 1 for making my group exercise classes (9:00 a.m.)

– 1 for gesturing at the driver going 20 in a 45 (11:05 a.m.)

– 1 for raising my voice at my mud-caked sons (11:37 a.m.)

+ 1 for making a decent lunch for the kids (11:45 a.m.)

– 1 for not folding that dusty pile of laundry (12:58 p.m.)

– 1 for letting too many dirty dishes stack up (2:13 p.m.)

+ 1 for chauffeuring the kids to their multiple activities (3:20 p.m.)

– 1 for hitting up Taco Bell for dinner (hey, it’s Taco Tuesday!) (5:36 p.m.)

– 1 for forgetting to brush one of the kid’s teeth (6:45 p.m.)

+ 1 for helping my daughter complete her homework (7:27 p.m.)

– 1 for that extra glass of red wine (9:32 p.m.)

+ 1 for getting to bed at a decent hour (10:30 p.m.)

At the end of the day, a huge pie chart would break down my good and bad choices into green and red colored sections with a percentage of my socially acceptable behaviors. I think my days might become a little less colorful if I aimed for a one hundred percent Loco score every day. Sometimes you need to yell a little (even if to no one) to vent your frustration; you might tap into your creativity staying up too late at night; the dishes and laundry will be there the next day, while your ambition to write, create or do anything instead of household chores may not be.

When I first saw on Loco that my daughter was penalized for talking out of turn or being off task, I thought of the hilarious 1980s film, Uncle Buck, played by the late, great John Candy. I remembered the classic scene where Uncle Buck tells off his young niece’s school principal for trying to create robot students:

“I don’t think I want to know a six-year-old who isn’t a dreamer, or a sillyheart. And I sure don’t want to know one who takes their student career seriously.”

Uncle Buck wouldn’t approve of Loco, as this tool doesn’t encourage the dreamers and the sillyhearts to sometimes talk out of turn in their unbridled excitement or daydream to the point of getting off task. Often our best ideas form when we are off task and allowed to simply float in our thoughts. All I know is that I am not downloading the Loco app.

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at