no avatar

A parent’s response to grade cards

By ADAM KREISCHER • Nov 3, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Norwalk City Schools students recently received their first grade card of the school year.

Parents were able to see the grades their children earned during the first nine weeks of the year. Many were very proud of the grades their students earned. A parent should certainly praise children for their achievement. But, what do we do if the results don’t meet our expectations?

Many studies show it is better to have a proactive rather than a punishment based approach. One specific study concluded that children whose parents said they would respond by lecturing, punishing or restricting their child’s social activities actually had lower levels of literacy and math achievement over the next five years. The main reason that punitive parenting strategies are unlikely to work is that they don’t directly address the underlying problems that lead to the poor result. In addition, punitive strategies may increase a child’s sense of frustration and aversion to school work.

So, what should a parent do? Teachers are the best place to start for parents to understand the reasons behind their child’s performance. No matter how bad the report card might be, don’t fall into the trap of taking out your child’s performance on the school. Teachers are an important ally in helping improve your child’s school performance. Strive to build a relationship with your child’s school built on mutual respect that will set the stage for collaboration with their teacher. Consistent and responsive parenting will do more good than a punitive approach.

If you feel your student’s grades need to improve:

• Set expectations for the next grade card and a plan to make it happen.

• Check your child’s agenda nightly and don’t just take their word for it that the assignment is done.

• Ask them to show it to you so that you can check their understanding.

• Possibly set a quieter homework area, a location of their own with limited distractions.

• Establish an at-home studying routine with a schedule or timetable and include breaks if needed.

• Lastly, have incentives or rewards in place. It could be an hour on the computer, tablet, video game, TV, or outside play after correctly completing homework or studying for a test.

You and your child can’t change their previous report card, but they can change their approach and outlook towards school.

When your child makes improvements to their grades, make sure you give specific praise for a job well done. Don’t just say something like, “see what happens when you try harder;”it is hard to quantify what “trying harder” looks like. Instead, praise them for how their new homework strategies paid off, or recognize them for how they made use of the study guide the teacher sent home to prepare for the test.

Type the address below in your internet search bar for a great article and some excellent tips on helping your child develop some test prep strategies: www.parenting.com/article/how-to-help-your-kid-study-for-a-test.

Don’t forget that a grade card with unexpected poor results could be an opportunity to have a discussion with your child about other changes you have been noticing in them. This opportunity for a talk could stop a downward spiral. Knowing what is going on in your child’s life socially and academically can only have a positive impact on their grade card.


Local columnist Adam Kreischer is the League Elementary principal.

Norwalk Reflector Videos