You thought your child was a genius. After all, in preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade they were always at the top of their class and never brought home anything less than an S for satisfactory or O for outstanding. Now suddenly, here you are looking at a report card that has a C or maybe even a D, or low and behold, an F next to some class like science, math, reading, or language arts. What do you do? Whom do you turn to? How can you help your child? What should the consequences be? Are report cards really an indicator of your child’s intelligence or just a shadow of their performance?
Today the educational system is set up such that parents can stay involved with their child’s grades and performance from the comforts of their own home. More than 70% of all schools now employ an online grading gallery which can tell you what time your child ate lunch, the balance on their lunch account, the grade they received on their homework and even a schedule of all due and future assignments for any given class. The software systems vary, however with a simple click of the mouse and a well-placed password; parents should no longer be surprised by a bad grade on a report card. Additionally, parent teacher conferences are required by law – and can only be avoided should a parent decide to not want to meet. These usually occur midway through a grading period and are a fantastic way to meet one on one with a teacher to ascertain your child’s strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t gone, you need to.
But there is more to a report card than just the grades on it. If your child is suddenly scoring low in a class, and it is not typical for them – your first line of defense should be to go to the teacher. Ask the teacher what he or she feels is the problem and then close your mouth and listen. Far too many parents over estimate their child’s manners and performance in school. You might be surprised to find that the poor grade is something that is rooted in bad behavior or a lack of studying. Perhaps your child is grouped with other students that are bullying or over influencing your child. Teachers get to know your children in a completely different light than you do and you should be open to their synopsis of the situation.
The next step is to talk with the teacher about after school help, tutoring or other options that may be available to bring your child’s grades up to par. Have a list of missed assignments and request to see any tests that your child didn’t perform well on. Then sit down with your child, with your facts and talk it out. They might not readily admit that a class has suddenly become difficult. They also might feel like the teacher picks on them. Perhaps they are too busy with extra curricular activities to fit in homework. At any rate, try to get down to the bottom of the problem without being derogatory or blaming. Remember that you are trying to build a relationship based on trust and find solutions together.
Quite often, the report card begins being a surprise as a child hits middle school. Suddenly the handholding between teachers, students, and parents seems to end leaving children responsible for getting things down. When your child approaches middle school, work together on responsibility building activities like keeping a calendar and study habits. Ask questions. If your kid comes home and says, they have no homework or no tests, check the school website or email the teacher to find out what is going on. Ask more questions. Children may not want to offer up information easily, but when they see that their mom and dad are relentless, they will begin talking. When your children realize that you take their education seriously, they will be more prone to staying on track. Plus, proving to them that you don’t mind contacting teachers, administration or visiting the school in person to see what the problems are can light a fire in your child’s butt that makes them want to and strive to achieve!
The report card in any child can be an indicator that other things are going on at school as well. Sudden drops in grades could be emotional, caused by bullying or social issues that you just might not know about. Try to see if you can recognize any sudden changes in your child’s behavior. Has there been anything going on at home that might be upsetting your child? You might think that something is nothing, and it is a big deal to your child. Also, if you sense that your child is performing their best and struggling – do what you can do at home and beyond to ensure that they don’t fall behind. Look to a tutoring program or other resource to help your child succeed. In younger children that begin to struggle, look for signs of a learning disability.
Lastly, remember that the report card doesn’t mean your child is a big dummy or an under achiever if the grades are not what you expect. Some of the most intelligent people in the world perform lower than normal in school because they are bored or aren’t finding the stimulation that they need to stay focused. You may have to reach out of the box a bit. And realize also that not every student is going to be a straight a student. If your child gets B or C’s and you recognize that they are working their best to do so, then you need to accept that as their personal best rather than push them to outperform their abilities. This doesn’t mean that your child isn’t smart, but perhaps that they don’t learn well in the particular structure of the school system. How else can you build upon the skills that they do have?
A bad report card is not the end of the world, just as a good report card doesn’t mean your child is sheer genius. Let’s be real, there are all sorts of kids in this world. You shouldn’t overly pressure your child, but rather be a guiding hand that is comfortable combining efforts with teachers in order to provide your child the best education for them! Education is definitely a partnership.