First-term report cards are coming up, and that means stressful times ahead for parents and kids. With all those marks staring you in the face, it's hard not to feel the pressure rise.
Before jumping to questions of reward and punishment, keep in mind that report cards are not straightforward documents. Instead, they are filled with CLUES about your child's strengths and weaknesses—so far. You'll have to do some detective work to uncover: "What's REALLY behind my child's A or F?" Only then can you decide how best to handle the report card.
Below are four essential questions to ask yourself after viewing your child's report card:
Do I understand how each teacher assigns marks?
Your child was getting all "A"s in Language Arts last year, but now has a B. Maybe last year's teacher was lax, or maybe this year's teacher is super demanding. Communicate with teachers to understand expectations, and how grades are determined.
Are lower marks due to missed assignments?
Low marks don't always indicate academic weakness. If incomplete homework is the culprit, then tackle that issue with your child. Here's an example of where electronics (or other guilty parties) may need to be removed.
Are very high marks gained with much effort, or is my child bored?
Getting all As is not necessarily fabulous. Kids can become turned off if they're not challenged, so talk to teachers about providing enrichment if those As come too easily.
What are my child's specific academic strengths and weaknesses?
Every subject contains several components. Your child may do well with number skills, but has difficulty with problem solving. Unfortunately, several areas often get lumped together under one grade. Talk with teachers and with your child to help gauge specific weaknesses early on. You can then decide how to address trouble spots, whether at school, at home, or with outside help. Pinpointing academic strengths could help you encourage your child to deepen skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm.
Remember, report cards are not final statements about your child. It's easy to get hung up on marks, but it's kind of pointless unless we understand what those marks really mean.