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Report Cards Out: Time for Course Corrections?

Posted on 11/05/2021, by Dr. Ellen Fithian to Parents of 7th and 8th Graders, Parents of 9th Graders, Parents of 10th Graders, Parents of 11th Graders, Parents of 12th Graders (0 comments)

First quarter report cards were just issued, bringing a burst of sunshine into some homes and casting a pall of gloom over others. If the skies are a bit cloudy at your house, here are some suggestions to improve the outlook for the next quarter.  

First, focus on the positive.

Note any good grades before you zero in on the C in geometry, and when you do, ask your son why he thinks he did poorly. Don’t be surprised if his explanation begins with the teacher not explaining anything and ends with her giving unfair tests. Rather than arguing these assertions, simply point out that even if true, these things are not within his power to change. Engage him in a discussion of what things he can do to improve his grade.

A good place to start is by examining the grades for all the quizzes, tests, and homework assignments that contributed to his geometry grade; many schools provide online access to this information for parents. Did he do well on homework and quizzes, only to bomb major tests? Perhaps he has test anxiety, or doesn’t know how to study for a cumulative test. At the other end of the spectrum, if he excelled at tests but lost credit because of homework that was incomplete or missing, he might have problems with organization or time management.

If your son’s grades on all types of assignments are low, maybe he’s having difficulty understanding the material. Encourage him to ask his teacher for help, but don’t expect her to re-teach the entire course after hours. If he’s fallen very far behind, rediscover the magic of geometry yourself or invest in a tutor.

Second, have a heart.

Teens today are under an unusual amount of stress, so if your daughter's report card reflects difficulty in several subjects, try to initiate an empathetic discussion about whether her academic problems are symptomatic of an underlying mental health issue that might benefit from professional assistance. Alternatively, the problem might be a more old-fashioned one - that she just isn’t putting enough effort into her school work, which may call for you to parent up and begin monitoring her study time more closely. She probably won't welcome your newfound interest in her study habits, so assure her that as her grades rise, your involvement will fall. This was always a potent motivational tool at our house!

The good news is that the semester is only half-over, so there’s still plenty of time for improvement. Good luck with the second quarter!

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Posted on 11/05/2021, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments)




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