The first report card of the year can create feelings of pride, happiness and excitement for many parents. It can also produce feelings of anxiety and frustration for those who are surprised by their child’s grades. However, effective and continuous communication among teachers, parents and students can help minimize the “report card surprise.”
Report cards are part of every child’s academic experience, and don’t need to be a surprise to parents. If a parent is surprised by a “poor” report card, it often means that they haven’t been effectively communicating with their child or their child’s teacher throughout the school year. Maintaining open and continuous lines of communication with children and teachers throughout the school year, and not just when report cards are issued, will help parents stay informed about their child’s progress and help them avoid the report card surprise.
Students who are surprised by their own report cards also need to improve their communication and organization patterns. A student who surprisingly receives a “D” or a failing grade on his report card learns the hard way that he needs to regularly talk with his teachers and stay on top of school work, homework and test results. Students should never be surprised by their report card grades.
Organization is an essential part of a student’s education. By tracking test scores and all other assignments throughout the year and speaking regularly with teachers and parents, students are prepared for their grades come report card time, and can work to improve their performance prior to report cards.
It shouldn’t take a surprise report card for parents and teachers to communicate effectively. Sylvan Learning, the leading provider of tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels, offers the following advice to help parents maintain clear communications with their children and teachers:
Tips for Talking To Children
- Talk about school every day. Make it a regular part of the family’s routine.
- Don’t wait until report cards are issued to talk about school and grades. Frequently discuss with her how she is doing in each subject and what grade she anticipates receiving.
- Encourage your child to tell you about his day. Find out what he learned and what are his favorite activities.
- Teach your child that education is important to your family.
- Discuss goals and objectives for the school year. This may be a great way to learn about difficulties your child is having in specific subject areas.
- If your child is having trouble in school, talk about a method to help organize her schedule, subjects and activities. A calendar can be a great way to track tests, homework, activities and study plans.
- Talk with your child about his extracurricular activities, such as team sports or after-school jobs. Being overscheduled may affect his grades.
- Set improvement goals for your child. This will help her work towards an attainable grade for each class.
- Talk with your child about his study habits and develop a study plan. Set aside specific time for studying, projects and activities each evening and make sure that he has a properly equipped and well-lit area to work.
- Communicate with your child about her school experiences. Know what she is thinking and feeling. Also, openly talk with her about her worries and concerns as well as her joys and achievements.
- Develop a parent/teacher relationship with your child’s teacher and talk with this teacher at least once a month throughout the year. Remember that your child’s teacher has direct contact with your child every school day and can offer invaluable insight into your child’s day.
- Your child’s teacher can benefit from background information about him – talk about activities he likes, special needs, close friends, motivation and things going on at home.
- Find out what the teacher’s expectations are for the year and what type of curriculum he or she has set for the students. Have this insight at the start of school and keep track of it throughout the year.
- Talk to the teacher about any major programs or activities that are set for the year. Is there an annual science fair? A field trip schedule? Major papers? Tests?
- Remember – teachers are busy people, too. Find out the easiest way to communicate – by email, phone or in-person. Finding the right communication method will make it easier to speak on a regular basis.