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!
Myra Faye Turner, Writer