That First Report Card
What Do Grades Say About Your Child?
It is the eve of report card season and this might have you — and your child — shaking in your fleece-lined boots (it’s already feeling like winter out there)! Before you see those grades and start wondering if a C average disqualifies your kid for an Ivy League school, remember that report cards are mostly a tool to help teachers plan and assess their lessons to help your child meet provincial standards. If there are serious concerns, your child’s teacher will reach out to you. Otherwise, a grade is just a measurement of expectations to help the teacher.
Of course, report cards do impact us and our children. If you are caught off-guard by the grades, report cards can be an impetus for dramatic changes by implementing new learning strategies and forcing you to get more involved in your child’s academics.
Maybe the report card reveals your child has difficulties with a certain math concept, or maybe, they can’t remember scientific formulas or, perhaps, they can’t quite grasp how to pull themes from literature.
Maybe your child simply can’t stay organised, or they forget to study, or they don’t really understand how to take notes. These are normal hurdles and it may be necessary to look at different ways to help your child reach these attainable goals.
Before you panic, yell, punish, or threaten, remember what you aren’t seeing behind the letter or number grades is more important. Even if your child slacked off, slept through classes, refused to study, and plain ol’ didn’t listen, try to remember:
1. Grades don’t define your child . . . or their future:
There is no mythical ‘permanent record.’ There are no university entrance people ticking off boxes to make sure your child never receives a failing grade.
There are no grade-dependent background checks, Monopoly cards sending them straight to mediocre jobs, or sadistic Dolores Umbridges waiting in the wings. Your child will get a second chance . . . and a third, and a forth, and a fifth.
It is your child’s job to own their mistakes and to determine the best way for themselves to succeed and it’s parents’ jobs to help guide them along the way.
2. Grades don’t necessarily mean . . . anything?:
A bad grade doesn’t mean your child is a poor student and a good grade doesn’t mean your child is a genius.
Remember, the curriculum students must learn rapidly changes throughout the year and your child may not have had time to fully grasp certain concepts.
In September, they may learn about government and elections, but in October, they may start learning about First Nations, and in mid-October they may switch yet again to focus on anatomy. Yes, it’s fast paced and not everyone can fully grasp each concept in the allotted time frame.
3. Grades don’t show what they aren’t looking for:
Perhaps your child is going through something upsetting in their private lives they haven’t spoken about. Perhaps they couldn’t pay attention during an important lesson because they didn’t like the supply teacher. Perhaps they are too tired to listen during a certain part of the day.
You don’t always necessarily know what is going on in your child’s private lives, but it’s up to you to find out if something deeper is going on than the fact that they simply are not fully grasping a concept.
4. Grades don’t show the ‘soft’ skills your child excels at:
If all else fails, remember what makes your child unique and beautiful: their optimistic outlook on life, their love of animals, the way they read to their little brother or sister, the kindness they show their family, the ability to empathise with others, the way they stand up for bullied kids.
Your child may need help with difficult concepts, subjects, or simply getting organised.
While grades may say a lot about how a student struggles academically, how parents react to their child’s less-than-perfect report card says a lot more than a grade ever could.