It is report card season. A time that can be very stressful for students, parents and teachers. But it does not have to be. Good communication between all parties involved can help make report cards less stressful and more helpful.
If the goal of education is to make students more capable, more independent and better citizens, then the conversations we have with them about their performance in school should be had with those goals in mind as well.
Things to do for the children who did not do as well as they or their parents had hoped.
Have a discussion about how your child feels about the grade. Oftentimes there is shame attached, and shame is one of the hardest feelings to name and discuss.
Ask your child if they feel the grade is accurate and to explain why? This will help the child reflect which is a huge part of growth. When there is shame, people tend to shy away from the subject. This avoidance does not allow them to come up with a solution.
Ask your child:
1. What can they do more/less to get the grade they want?
2. What can you do to help them accomplish that?
3. Is there anything they need from the teacher to accomplish that?
Together with your child, set SMART goals. SMART stands from specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. A student who received an F in math should not set the goal to have an A by trying harder. This is not specific and possibly not achievable.
Here is an example of a better goal: I will do my homework each night for the next marking period. I will write down one question each night I want to ask my teacher about.
This is a good goal because it has a specific action (now if homework is not what the child identified as the problem during your conversation, you would change it to fit that specific need).
Education takes a village. Tell the teacher about this goal. The teacher will help support your child with the goals and can even offer feedback!
Things to do for a child that did very well
It may seem like nothing needs to be done in this situation, but that is not true. Feedback at all stages of the learning process is important.
Ask your child how they managed to get such a grade. What were the actions they took that made them successful?
Ask your child if there were other people who helped them achieve these grades. Gratitude goes a long way.
Ask your child if they are feeling challenged enough? Having work that is too easy may seem good at first, but ultimately you will want to know that when content is difficult your child will still be able to rise to the work and feel successful.
Often, we view report cards as the final product, but since our children are still growing and learning, report cards should be another teaching tool we use to help them learn and grow along the way. Each mistake is an opportunity to do better; each success is an opportunity to reflect on what we did to be successful.