As a child I remember all too well the tense moments experienced when handed that envelope with my first quarter grades. As a mother of school-aged children now I still get that anxious feeling when presented the envelope from my own kids. We all think our kids are “gifted” but none of us are really experts in every subject. While I would love to report straight A’s across the board in my house, the reality is I have seen and felt the disappointment of not-so-stellar academic achievement. So how do you deal with the glaring ALL CAPS’ marks when they aren’t A’s?
A common reaction to bad grades by parents is usually an overreaction. Giving yourself a minute to react might temper what comes out of your mouth; not that I would know anything about this! While it’s important to not gloss over a poor performance, punishment and lectures might not always do the trick. Educator Heidi Begin offers a straight-forward approach to not only addressing the bad grades but for setting your child up for success. She says teaching your child to set goals for themself is one way to avoid the stress. “Often kids are very hard on themselves with poor grades. I find that offering a reward system that they help design can go a long way,” explains Begin. “Also encourage your child to work with their teacher(s) tell him/her to reach out to them, request help and extra credit to show they are willing to put in the effort,” she advises.
Begin offers the following tips on what you can do with your children to bounce back from an underwhelming report card:
- Have your child set specific goals academically for him/herself
- Discuss something fun (reward-oriented) that you do can do together if they achieve their goal
- If they are not happy with their grades, encourage them to talk it over with the teacher (teach them independence)
- Teach your children the value of “working for their grades”. Focus on the time and effort that good grades entail
- If they still get a lower grade than expected hold them accountable for it. Start a dialogue that will allow them to figure out why they didn’t achieve a higher grade
- Monitor their television/game time. Let them know that the time they put into their school work should be relative to the time they put into their leisure time.
Begin also strongly urges parents not to dwell on a poor performance. Sometimes the shame a student feels from a poor grade is punishment enough. Wiping the slate clean and boosting your child’s confidence can go a long way to getting back on track. Another important tool is communication between parent and teacher. If you keep up with what your student is doing throughout the year there won’t be any unpleasant surprises when the manila envelope surfaces in your hands.