Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Report Cards

Report cards provide an excellent opportunity for a positive experience for you and your kids. I always find it interesting that some students are anxious about seeing their grades. Don't they know how they've been doing all along?

Some parents are more concerned with the academic performance of their children while others are more concerned with the behavior or social part of the report card. Certainly a balanced approach is best. If the student receives a C but shows good work ethic, determination, and is a pleasure to have in class, what more could you ask for? Each child has different abilities and interests, different strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, if he gets all A's but his behavior is less than outstanding or his attitude is not positive, you may have work to do! Make a plan to change the undesirable behavior.

We need to appreciate all of our children. The A students should be commended for their achievement, even the ones for whom it required minimal effort. The C students need to know that we appreciate their hard work, that we are on their side. Most of all we need to remove any fear from the experience. We need to communicate our support.

Report cards should never lead to anger or punishment, but to discussions of future possibilities and changes (Caveat here: the report card of adolescents, like everything else about them, pose a unique challenge). We cannot force good grades or good behavior from a child (certainly not without serious psychological damage), but we can encourage it.

An often forgotten ally in this effort is you child's teacher. Most teachers are wonderful and trying hard and want your child to succeed. They need appreciation and respect also. Certainly blaming them for a child's academic performance or behavior is an ineffective strategy and at most wrong, and harmful to your child.

The arrival of report cards is a great teachable moment for a family. It is our attitude as parents and our expectations that will determine our children's reaction.