The dreaded report cards have come out….

It is a time that many kids – and perhaps some parents – dread. Yes, it is report card time. Both Jase and Lexie received their mid-year report cards last week.

The grades reflected on these report cards are supposed to be a benchmark on how your child is doing in school. And as parents, we want our kids to do well. We want to see our kids reach their potential and show how smart they are (because as parents, we all believe our kids are bright).

Lexie’s report card is more difficult to decipher how she is doing, and if she is learning at a proper rate. In Kindergarten, the report cards don’t have letter grades. It is a list of tasks and whether they have mastered them or are still working on that skill. On both her first two report cards, there are some skills that neither has a + (mastered) nor a / (working on) by them. I assume those are skills that will be addressed later in the year.

Now Jase’s grades this year are lower than those of first grade. Last year, he had mostly As with a few Bs. He excelled in science but struggled more in reading. He started reading tutoring (RAP) last spring and has continued it through this past fall. His reading grade on this report card reflects that extra help. It has gone from a high C to a high B. (Yeah, Jase!)

As I look at the report cards, I am unsure if Jase understands the importance of grades. We have never stressed that he needs to get all As. We have just told him to try his best. The problem is that since he doesn’t see their importance, I sometimes think he doesn’t try his hardest. But I also know that his struggles in reading have led to some of his lower grades in other subjects.

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As I listen to other parents brag about their kids’ good grades (thank you Facebook), it makes me wonder if some parents put too much importance on grades. There are many kids who do not test well but this doesn’t mean they are dumb, don’t know the material or are not as wonderful or special as their high-achieving classmates.

Not every kid will be an A student. And parents, in my opinion, shouldn’t pressure their kids. They may try their best and only reach a C.

I am a firm believer in not rewarding good grades with money and not punishing a child for bad grades. Too often parents want to take away a privilege such as video time when grades are bad. Now I guess if the grades were really bad, I would consider dropping extra-curricular activities as academics need to be a priority. But the consequence should fit the crime. If they aren’t doing homework or studying like they need to, then homework should be the first thing they do when they get home.

I guess my advice is to take to the time to explore the reason your child is getting the grades they are getting. Are they trying their best? Will extra studying or tutoring help? Taking the time will help more than yelling or punishing them.

With Jase and Lexie, we are trying to stress the importance of good grades and taking pride in your efforts. It is about looking for ways to positively motivate them and promote a love for learning. And if they try their best, we will be happy with whatever grades they receive.

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