NEXT week’s parent-teacher conferences will provide a wonderful opportunity for parents to discuss the educational performance and progress of their children after receiving their children’s report card.
Usually, parents and their children experience a wide range of emotions at report card time. For some, it is joy. For others, it is disappointment, or even shock. Frequently, parents are convinced that their children could do better in school, and they are right. Below are some tips for dealing positively with your children’s good, and not-so-good report cards:
- Take report cards seriously. Although report cards do not tell the whole story, they do reflect how your child is progressing academically. Encourage your child to talk about his school performance, either good or bad.
- Praise a good report card. Let your child know that you are proud of her good work and accomplishments. Also, remember to praise improvements in performance and encourage commitments to working hard in the future.
- Talk about an unsatisfactory report card. Most children want to achieve and do well in school. However, if your child does not do as well as expected, talk openly about it. Reassure your child that poor grades do not mean that he is a failure. Poor report cards can be a catalyst for change and do not need to be a reason for punishment. You and your child can work together to develop a plan of action with goals for improvement.
- Set realistic goals for improvement. It is probably not realistic for your child to go from a "D" to an "A" on the next report card. However, a "C" or a “B-” is realistic. Some steps to achieving that goal can be: completing all homework assignments on time, receiving an "A" on a project, or achieving a “B” on two or more tests.
- Look at your child's work regularly. Report cards only come out four times a year. Review your child’s work a least once per week, and pay special attention to test grades as well as the comments that go along with them. This will help you and your child to identify trouble spots before it is too late.
- Encourage your child to do his or her best. Emphasize good work habits and effort. Poor grades on report cards may not reflect inability, but rather insufficient effort. If that is the case, develop a plan for improvement.
- Reward good work. Rewards are great incentives for children who do well or meet goals. However, they should not be bribes. Rather than telling children you will give them money for good grades before they have even earned them, surprise them after the grades are earned with a small gift or some special time. Be sure to praise effort and improvement along with good grades. Children should want good grades out of interest, pride and an understanding that success in school is necessary for success in life. Children should not earn good grades only because they will get a reward.
- Become more involved in your child's education. Research has shown that children whose parents are actively involved in their education perform better academically. So monitor your child’s homework, attendance, grades on assignments, and ask teachers to report any failing grades to you immediately.
Whether your children do well or not so well on their report cards this quarter, it is important for parents to make the time to talk with their children’s teachers. For those parents who are unable to attend the parent-teacher conference in person next week, they can make a special arrangement to hold a conference with their children’s teachers at another time or even over the phone.
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 25 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at]yahoo.com with your questions or comments.