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03 Feb 2020

When Report Cards Arrive: Do’s and Don’t’s

 When your child’s report card arrives, how do you respond when one or more grades is surprisingly low? Before you react, be sure to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Did she purposely strive for below par grades? Does he already feel badly about his teacher’s assessment? What will you gain by acting angry or disappointed? What will be gained by causing your child to feel even worse?
In our experience, children and adults alike want to succeed. Most children want to have good grades, but they may need some support to get there. Here are some do’s and don’t’s to constructively approach low-grade situations:
When narrowing down problems, try to figure out whether your child is not mastering the subject matter or mainly needs help with “soft skills,” which include organization, time management, and study skills, also known as executive functions. Then you can offer help as needed: a parent, sibling, teacher, or classmate, a tutor, or an academic coach.
Keeping in mind already scheduled events and extra-curricular activities, schedule a homework time each day, preferably when an adult is present to help as needed. The goal is for your child to work as independently as possible, but she should know when to ask for help.
It is often helpful to communicate with the teachers to get an answer as to why the grade is low, what is expected, and what your child can do to improve. If your child is in high school, he can self advocate by emailing and meeting with his teachers independently.
If you or your child thinks accommodations would be helpful, ask the teacher. This can include reduced homework, modified seating, or help with study guides.
Getting all A’s is not necessarily ideal. It is important to sometimes fail and sometimes struggle to build resiliency and learn how to manage when everything doesn’t come easily. No matter how successful a child is, there will be a point in high school, college, or beyond, when the work is difficult, and developing strategies to succeed in spite of obstacles is crucial.
As a parent, remember that your job is to help and boost your child. Do your best to focus on positives and remind your children that you are on the same team.
By Cheryl Gedzelman, President, Tutoring For Success

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