It is report card time—something many parents and students dread. But they shouldn’t, says Eileen Huntington, co-founder of Huntington Learning Center. “Every parent would love to see a report card full of As and glowing remarks about their child’s love of learning and work ethic, but remind yourself that the report card is a valuable tool,” says Huntington. “Think of it as an opportunity to help your child, to address and overcome any issues together.
What should parents look for when reviewing the report card? Huntington suggests evaluating your child’s report card for these five things:
Study skills – “What does your child’s report card indicate about his or her ability to focus, take initiative and manage his or her time?” says Huntington. Developing good study skills is an important part of becoming an effective student. That involves staying organized at home and at school, keeping track of assignments and projects, and learning to prioritize.
Good effort – Being involved in homework will give you a good sense of your child’s effort level, but pay attention to marks and comments on the report card that address this, too. Talk with the teacher about it. Trying hard is important, but if your child’s grades don’t reflect his or her effort, there may be a deeper problem.
Red flags – Red flags are warning signs of potential issues. “We suggest looking beyond the grades, because your child’s attitude about and commitment to learning are just as important,” says Huntington. Do the teacher’s remarks indicate your child is unmotivated or has difficulty listening and staying focused? Does he or she talk too much in class or avoid school work?
Behavioral issues – Is your child’s teacher reporting indifference or apathy on your child’s part? Or is he or she acting out? “Often, struggling students feel worthless and stupid,” says Huntington. “When your child is beyond frustration, beyond trying or caring, his or her behavior may worsen—especially at school.”
Strengths – “Often, there’s so much focus on the bad parts of the report card that we forget to pay attention to the areas where students excel,” Huntington says. “One of the best ways to build children’s self-esteem is to help them find the thing that makes them feel successful. Remember to notice and celebrate your child’s strengths.”