The beginning of school inevitably means report cards will soon arrive. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not more anxious on report day than my son is. I guess I worry that if he receives less than a "B", it’s somehow a reflection on my parenting and teaching skills. I normally fret about it for days before the “big day” arrives. Thankfully I haven’t had any issues in the past (whew!), but as he enters high school, I feel myself breaking out in a cold sweat. Algebra. Latin. Computer Programming. All eight of his classes are honors. I feel confident he'll do fine (so far, he's made an "A" on all of his work from the first week). But who knows, it might happen sooner or later. Even an “A” students may eventually receive a "bad" grades. So what’s a parent to do? Here’s a few tips on how you should handle this situation... if it arises.
Accentuate the Positive... Eliminate the Negative
Don’t focus on the “bad” grades, instead offer praise for all the hard work your child has done over the course of the term. If a teacher offers up positive comments, for example, focus on that. Also, look at the report card as a whole and do not focus on that one low grade. Many parents will let one or two bad grades ruin an otherwise good report card.
Support the Troops
When your child brings home a report card with lower grades than you were expecting, it’s not the time to yell, scream or severely punish. Instead, you need to offer support. Remind your child it’s not the end of the world and that if they work harder, they can pull their grades up before the next reporting period. You definitely don’t want your child to feel he’s incapable of doing better. If he feels that way, he may not try as hard.
A Little Help from Our Friends
Read the teacher comments, they often offer insight about what's going on with your child in that subject. Request a teacher conference , if necessary, to see if there’s anything you can do at home to help your child better prepare for class and most importantly, for exams. At this point, you may find it necessary to get extra help. If your child is having a particularly hard time with one or more subjects, then it may be time to consider getting a tutor. Most schools offer tutors free of charge. You can also find tons of free online resources. Khan Academy, for example, is an incredibly useful resource for students. CrashCourse on YouTube is also another great resource.
Plan for the Future
Finally, work with your child to set a goal for the next reporting period. For example, you may decide to try and increase each low grade by one letter grade. Just make sure the goal is attainable and not unrealistic. A child who receives a "D " for instance, probably wouldn't be able to make an "A" on the next report card unless he wasn’t putting forth an effort in the first place.
Create a definite study plan and stick with. But try to have a little fun along the way. Plan little mini rewards for good work. For example, if your child’s progress report shows improvement or they make a good grade on a test, reward appropriately and then forge ahead!
Yesterday, my son came home with a flyer announcing that they are taking school photos next week. As I read through the information, I was a bit dismayed to see the following in bold letters: We recommend retouching for students with blemishes. Have we become such a vain, beauty-driven society, that adults think it's okay to have their teen's photos retouched? Is't that the point of school day photos, so we can look back as adults and laugh at our younger selves- blemishes and all?
Personally, I think the photos should look more natural and realistic and not like a glamour shot. Apparently this practice is not unusual. I did a quick internet search and it seems that lot's of photographers offer this option. I saw before and after images of kids with boo-boos that went bye-bye and a teen with a face full of acne, transformed into a smooth-faced young man.
The norm or not, I think it sends a wrong message to our kids. Now, fortunately Tyler is acne-free (at least as of this moment) but because he is fair-skinned, he does sunburn easily and it's been extremely hot in the Big Easy. He's getting over a recent burn by applying cocoa butter but being out every day may not help. When piture day rolls around next week, he can decide whether he wants to take one or not. But if he does, I won't be paying an extra ten bucks for retouching.
It’s the first day of school and you (grumpily) roll out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to find that, not only is your kid already up, but he has fixed his breakfast and is sitting quietly watching the local morning news. Welcome to high school.
When my son Tyler was born, everyone told me the years were gonna fly by so I should take every moment to enjoy him being a kid. It’s hard to imagine that the years have indeed flown by and he’s now a freshman in high school. And although I’m glad he’s growing up, I sometimes long for the days when he was a toddler. I miss Sesame Street and the Wiggles and listening to endless hours of kid-tunes in the car. Sure, we still do a lot of things together, in fact more adult things like going out for coffee or playing Gin Rummy. And he’s learning to drive! But sometimes, I miss my baby boy.
The transition to high school is a rite of passage and quite an adjustment for teens. There’s new friendships that spring up, new locker combinations to learn and new responsibilities. Friday night dances, homecoming and service hours. His school does not wear uniforms, so there’s the important matching of pants, shirts and shoes. There’s also the question of “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” It can be an exciting but scary and stressful times.
It’s also a big adjustment for the parents. Two days in and I already feel overwhelmed by what’s expected of me! My Google calendar is already filled with upcoming events and reminders. But I’m excited about this new phase in our lives and hope that I’ll be able to effectively guide him as he becomes a young, responsible man. Getting up on his own, on time and making his breakfast is the first start...now, if he could have my coffee waiting for me when I wake up, I’d be in heaven!
Will the five-day school schedule go the way of the 8-track tape? A recent article on Yahoo! Parenting introduced readers to a district in rural Georgia that instituted a four-day, Tuesday-Friday schedule, six years ago and apparently they have had some success. They claim student test scores have increased and the district is saving money. They also haven’t had to cut electives, like other schools due to budgetary problems. They even claim students return from their three-day hiatus refreshed! There’s also fewer absences. For example, a parent can schedule a doctor’s appointment on Monday, rather than taking the child out of school during the other days when school is in session.
As a mother, I starting thinking about the pros and cons of a four-day schedule. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. The day is extended to make up for the time missed on Mondays. So the students aren’t missing any instructional time. The biggest problem I have is the issue of child care. My son is old enough to stay home alone, so I don’t have the same concerns many parents have. Also, I’ve been lucky that since he’s been in school, I’ve mainly worked freelance so I’ve been home and haven’t had to worry about daycare, school closings and summer vacations. The times I have worked outside the home, I’ve worked part-time hours and was always off in time to pick him up from school. And when he was home from school, I generally brought him to work with me or I worked at home. But again, I was fortunate to be in a position to do so.
If this became the norm, many parents would have problems finding day care for that one day off. Of course, I suppose there’s bound to be agencies and centers that would pick up the slack and offer childcare for Monday’s only but that’s an added expense parents may not be able to afford.
If I had to vote today on whether this is a good idea for my son’s school, I would have to vote against it. When my son is home, I have to adjust my work schedule. I would essentially lose a full day of uninterrupted work time. I can deal with it on an intermittent basis but when I work a four-day week, I do it because it’s what I choose to do….I wouldn’t want the choice made for me. Although I have enjoyed sleeping late, I’m looking forward to school starting next week so that I can get back on a regular work schedule (without the constant interruptions of “What’s for lunch?” or “You wanna play some cards?” or “Can we go to the movies?”).
This is not a new issue. Other school districts have previously instituted four-day schedules. I believe, over time, more will at least consider doing so. Now, if we could institute a universal four-day school and work week, I could be persuaded to change my mind.
Myra Faye Turner, Writer