Report Card Time! What to Do With Your Child’s Report Card

report card
Don’t glance at it and toss it away. Report cards are full of handy information!

For some, report card day comes with a feeling of trepidation…a nagging sense of impending doom. For others, it’s a glorious day, a day to celebrate with cake and ice cream. Whatever kinds of emotions come up for your and your child on report card day, it is an important day.

 

I’ve already talked about why your child’s data is important and how you can keep track of grades, progress reports, and other forms of data. Report cards are the culmination of months of hard work. They show you where your child stands in school. Report card day can be incredibly emotional for both children and parents, so I encourage you to take a step back from the emotion and try to look at it with some objectivity.

 

Things you should do with every report card:

 

1. Pick out the positives. Even if your child isn’t doing well academically, in the early years of school, report cards will oftentimes put behavior grades as well. If your child isn’t doing well in math but the teacher notes that she plays well with others, play that up! Show your child the ways in which she is competent in school and she will be motivated to do better.

 

2. Make a note of any major changes. If your child went down a full letter grade in a subject, it might be cause for concern. But don’t panic just yet! Ask your child a couple nonthreatening questions about what might have caused the dip. Think back to when you were in school. Chemistry may have been a breeze first semester but killer second semester. Your child may be having issues with friends or had a long-term substitute for part of the semester. Play a little detective and determine the cause of the change.

 

3. See if there are any trends. If your child is consistently struggling in math, it may be time for you to step in and get some extra help. Or alternatively, if she’s blowing English out of the water, you may have a budding literary genius on your hands! You can do things on the weekends to encourage that interest or talent.

 

4. Read everything. It can be tempting to skim over your child’s report card, especially if you have more than one child, and check out the grades in key subjects. But you might be missing out on valuable information if you don’t pay attention to the other parts. Remember those behavior grades that I mentioned? They can tell you if your child is having trouble socializing, hates to share, is becoming a bully, or is being bullied. Each of these can turn into massive problems later on if they’re not caught and addressed early. Every inch of the report card matters.

 

5. Create a follow up plan. This plan doesn’t need to be heavy or truly detailed. If your child came home with great grades or improved in an area you both were really working on, your plan could be simply to celebrate and continue doing what you’ve ben doing. Or you may need to hire a tutor or academic coach for your child. If you’ve been tracking your child’s data and something doesn’t quite add up, don’t hesitate to set up a time to chat with your teacher and go over anything that doesn’t make sense to you.

 

Report cards don’t have to be stressful. These strategies, with the exception of the last one, require you to look at the paper objectively and do a quick analysis. If you take a couple deep breaths and approach them with a positive attitude (regardless of what letters you see), you and your child will be in a much better place to tackle the academic obstacles ahead.

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5 Ways Parents Can Get Involved in Elementary School

How are you involved with your elementary school kids?

Parental involvement is important. That much is clear. Currently, the media blames teachers for the current state of education. But before the media blamed teachers, they blamed parents, especially parents in the inner cities.

Research and dozens of studies show that what happens at home with regard to school can be more important that financial circumstances and zip code. Justice Sotomayor and President Obama are also examples that what happens at home can be more important than other circumstances.

It’s clear that parental involvement matters. What’s unclear a lot of the times is how parents can be involved. Here are 6 ways you can be more involved in your elementary school student’s education. Or if you’re a teacher, here are 6 things you can encourage your families to do.

1. Make sure kids get to school…on time. One of the big ways parents can help is by getting kids to school. This could mean anything from making sure they get to the bus stop on time to dropping them off in front of school. Parents who need to leave before their kids in the morning might consider arranging to have the school call them if a student is absent or late.

2. Help with homework. This is the standard way parents can be involved. When we think “parental involvement,” we think homework help. My mom continues to help my siblings with projects and book reports. Sometimes knowing the material isn’t necessary. Sometimes all parents need to do is create a safe, quiet space where the kid can work for a couple hours. But being realistic, sometimes helping with homework isn’t always possible. Good thing there are four more options in this article!

3. Attend parent/teacher conferences. Parents can be involved simply by meeting with teachers. Teachers can help with this by making themselves available outside of standard work hours. As a teacher, I had parents who just dropped by class (they asked ahead of time, of course) and sat in the back for an hour or two. I also made my phone number available to parents so that they could reach me if they need to. That parent-teacher relationship is crucial to student achievement.

4. Emphasize Education. If parents think school is stupid and say it aloud around their kids, chances are the kids will think school is stupid too. If parents say school is good and important, it definitely helps with the kid’s perspective on education. They are not yet at an age where rebellion and finding their identity is key. When they are young, let them know that school is important and college is attainable. That’s what my grandmother did for me, and I think I turned out pretty good.

5. Do your own teaching. Teaching is one of the many hats that good parents wear. My grandmother taught me a ton of things. From virtues like perseverance and patience to the difference between Monet and Manet, she taught me a lot. She taught me about life, love, literature, history, science, and more. I learned as much from her as I did in my 16 years of education. Parents can be that for their kids regardless of how much education they have. Parents still have things they can teach their kids. Most of my learning happened at my grandparent’s dining room table.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty of ways parents can be involved with their kids.

What are some ways you as a parent are involved or you as a teacher encourage parents to be involved? 

(Photo Credit: Dell’s Official Flickr on Flickr Commons)