Your child has been back in school for a month or two by now, which means there’s an important milestone coming up: the first report card of the year. As Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center explains, the first report card is telling and significant. “Parents should give the report card much more than a glance,” says Huntington. “This early ‘checkup’ shares a lot about how children are progressing in all subjects so far as well as how ready they were or weren’t for the grade.”
As you review your child’s first report card of the year, Huntington suggests paying careful attention to these six things:
- The grades – Grades are the most obvious sign of how your child is doing in school. Look at both the grades themselves and the change in grades from last year. Did your child end sixth grade math with an A but now has a B- at the start of seventh grade?
- Teacher comments about behavior – Read all remarks about your child’s academic attitude and classroom behavior. Does the teacher mention concern about responsibility, self-control, ability to work well with others, aggressiveness or anything else? Does the teacher commend your child for his or her work ethic, attitude or team effort?
- Areas of strength – Remember that the report card isn’t just a tool for identifying problems. Take note of positive comments about your child as well. Your teacher gets to know your child on a different level, after all. He or she might notice aspects of your child’s personality and performance that are special or exceed expectations.
- Marks or comments about study habits and organization – Good study skills are essential, and the further your child progresses in school, the more important they become. Look for any indicators about your child’s study habits and organizational/time management skills (or lack thereof).
- Areas of progress – It’s only the first report card of the year, but the teacher might have included measurements about your child’s progress toward grade-level standards for the year or the semester.
- Notes about potential – Straight As looks great, but you must read between the lines a little on report cards as well. Did your child forgo honors English for regular English, receiving an A+ on the report card? Just as you do not want your child to be overly challenged in school, you don’t want your child to lose opportunities to reach his or her potential. A conversation with the teacher might help you better assess whether your child is being appropriately pushed.
Huntington reminds parents that the report card is just one tool to help them support their children. “Being involved as a parent and communicating frequently with teachers is absolutely critical,” he/she says. “It’s also vital that you establish a good working relationship with your child regarding school. Set expectations and support your child as a student by asking about school often. And when questions about the report card do come up, have an open conversation with your child as well as any teachers or guidance counselors.”
If the first report card of the school year had a few unfortunate surprises or you have other concerns about your child’s academic performance, call Huntington—the earlier in the year, the better. School problems rarely go away. The longer they’re ignored, the harder it is for children to catch up and rebuild their self-esteem.
Contact 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn more about Huntington’s customized instructional programs for students of all ages.