With the first half of the school year now finished, it’s time for a mid-year check-in with first-semester report cards. Although some children dread report card time, Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center encourages parents to ease their children’s concerns. “Report cards are a valuable tool and create the opportunity for conversation between parents and their children about how things are going, what issues are of concern and any next steps to address those challenges.” Don’t just read the report card for a few minutes and file it away, Huntington urges. She offers these tips for using the report card to help your child:
Focus on study skills. Grades are certainly important but look for indicators that your child is taking initiative, managing his or her time, focusing and studying effectively. These skills should translate to home as well, so make sure to pay attention to your child’s ability to keep track of assignments, prioritize homework and stay organized.
Look for evidence of sincere effort. Your child’s content knowledge is important, but so is his or her attitude and willingness to work hard. Read comments from the teacher that address this, and if there are none, talk with your child about the time he or she invests into homework each night. It’s important that your child gives school his or her best effort, and it’s also a good idea for you to make sure his or her grades reflect that effort.
Highlight any strengths. If a report card has some bad grades or comments, it’s very easy to focus on that. Give credit where it is due, however. Notice any strengths or areas of improvement from the last report card. Point out subjects where your child is experiencing success and remind him or her that together, you can and will help your child get better in other subjects as well.
Take note of progress. If your child received a first term or quarter report card, compare that one to the midyear report card and look for areas where your child’s performance has improved or declined. These changes will give you valuable information for your conference with the teacher as well as conversation points for talking with your child. How does he or she feel about each subject? Which causes the most stress and joy and what does your child feel needs to happen to make adjustments before spring semester?
Once you’ve thoroughly assessed the report card, sit down with your child and formulate a plan. “This is where the report card can become a powerful tool,” Huntington says. “Talk with your child about the action you will take together to help your child overcome difficulties and get back on track toward achieving grade-level standards and other goals. The report card gives you critical information about your child, so be sure you use it.”
If your child is struggling in school and you’re not sure how to proceed to help, call Huntington. We’ll work with you to evaluate your child’s abilities and develop a customized, one-to-one program of instruction to turn things around by the end of the year. 1-800-CAN LEARN