Raise the Grade on Report Cards

By Richard E. Bavaria, P.H.D.

Report card day is often one of the school year’s most stressful times for parents and students; yet parents can take simple steps to eliminate report card surprises and set the stage for their child’s year-round academic success.

It’s typical for children to be a little nervous about bringing home their report card. However, children should never be afraid or anxious to show their grades to their parents. By communicating, setting goals and tracking progress, parents can help their children achieve report card success and reduce both parent and child anxiety.

Report cards enable parents to assess their child’s academic progress and assess his strengths and weaknesses. They also provide parents with an opportunity for further insight into their child’s progress in school.

When report cards come home, parents should discuss their child’s progress and any changes from previous terms. A report card is a communication tool and a reminder for parents to stay involved in their child’s education

Sylvan Learning Center offers the following tips to parents to help parents avoid report cards that don’t make the grade:

  • Maintain open lines of communication. Set aside time to discuss her performance in different subject areas, as well as her strengths and weaknesses, and those subjects that excite her most. As report card time nears, talk about the grades she expects to receive in each class.
  • Set goals with your child. Take time to set academic goals with your child at the beginning of the school year, and review or modify them each month or each term. When he receives his report card, review his grades and discuss whether or not he met his goals.
  • Organize your child’s academics. To help ensure academic success, it’s important to help your child stay organized both inside and outside of the classroom. Create a master calendar to track all of your child’s homework assignments, tests, chores and extracurricular activities. Set up a special place in your home for your child to complete homework and study for tests. Make sure the area is well lit, free from distractions, and that all of her supplies and study materials are close at hand.
  • Regularly track progress. On a regular basis, track your child’s progress against the goals you created together. Regular progress-checks with your child will help him stay on track. Keep in mind that if he’s having trouble meeting some of his goals, you may need to modify them. If he’s surpassing his goals, set new ones to encourage him to strive for even greater success.
  • Identify academic trouble spots. By maintaining open lines of communication with your child and reviewing each term’s report card, you can help recognize areas of difficulty before it’s too late. Talk about school together with your child and find out if there are any subject areas your child doesn’t enjoy or finds difficult.
  • Get to know your child’s teacher. Your child’s teacher has direct contact with your child each school day and can offer valuable insight into his academic progress and abilities. Don’t wait for report card time or parent/ teacher nights to talk to the teacher. Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and talk regularly, either by phone, by email or in person, about how your child is doing throughout the year.
  • Celebrate success. Celebrate your child’s success, whether she consistently earns good grades or has made an improvement in her performance. Be particular when you praise your child. Talk about a specific academic subject or a particular extracurricular project. Don’t just look for improved grades. If your child has committed to regularly handing in homework on time and has reached that goal, then recognize this success as well.

Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D. is Vice President of education at Sylvan Learning Canter. Sylvan Learning Centers offer a free online report card guide for parents with seven key pieces of advice for communicating with their children to help them achieve academic success. The “You and Your Child’s Report Card” is a free parents’ guide available at www.educate.com/tips.  It provides parents with numerous tips and suggestions to turn report card day into a day of achievement and celebration.

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