Report Cards are Coming Home Soon... Are You Ready?

How to make the report card experience with your child work effectively.

I’m probably safe in guessing that most parents no longer use spanking as a discipline tool today to help their kids get better grades in school, but what they do use instead may still not be getting the results they’re hoping for.  Adults like my parents used fear to drive the discipline they used with my seven siblings and me.  They were afraid that we were not taking school seriously and may do poorly, so they used this fear to pass more fear onto us.  Parents today may not spank, but they let their fear of their kids’ failure determine the discipline such as yelling, punishing, grounding, and taking away privileges.

My word of caution is, don’t do this.  Modern-day scholars tell us that the negative things we allow ourselves to feel and think about, will expand.  In other words, if you continue to believe you’re a victim in life, more incidents will happen to you to reinforce that belief.  If you complain about what’s not right in your life, you’ll get more of the same.  And if you continue to allow yourself to fear that your children will fail in school, they will live up to your expectation.  And then if you force your children to continue to feel the fear you’re passing on to them, that too will expand.  They will grow up to become more fearful and it will be that emotion that will determine how they live.

When your child brings the report card home, begin by doing three important things during the encounter; allow your child to hold the card and read the grades to you, remain completely quiet during the reading, and listen with 100% of your attention.  Once the reading is complete, do not pass judgment or invoke consequences or punishment.  Your job as a parent is to ask open ended questions that will allow your child to make his own assessment (not yours) of his performance being reflected in the report card. 

Ask your child questions such as; What is your favorite grade from this marking period, Why, What is your least favorite grade, and Why.  Acknowledge any joy you see in her face about a particular subject she did well in, by telling her what you see.  For example, if she exhibits excitement about her grade in math, simply say to her, “You look pretty proud of your math skills, what do you think helped you get such a good grade.”  If he appears to be sad while talking about a low grade in science, ask him, “What would you have liked that grade to be instead?”  When he provides you with an answer, ask him what he could do to bring that grade up for the next marking period.

Please take note, your child’s homework and report card belongs to him or her, not you.  A parent who uses too much control over a child and what that child owns, will end up raising a child who is less likely to take ownership of things he should, and avoid self-responsibility.


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Bill Corbett is the author of the award winning book “Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids,” and the producer & host of the cable TV show, Creating Cooperative Kids, seen on over 200 community access channels, including Longmeadow’s channel 8.  You can visit his Web site www.CooperativeKids.com for further information and parenting advice.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ray G. Jones, Jr. September 25, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I'd like to hear what you would suggest for parents who have children that want to own grades that are well below their God-given abilities? What if the child's goal is to be great at watching TV or scoring really high scores on video games? If that's what is important to them should the parent empower them to do that rather than doing their best at their school work? Or, what if your child prides themselves on having better grades than their underachieving peers? Should a parent empower them to be content with mediocrity? Frankly, I'd like to know what role, if any, parents are to take in their children's grades in your opinion?
Bill Corbett September 25, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Hi Ray, thank you for taking the time to read my post and to comment. Let me address each of your questions. Children who are performing well below their abilities are doing so because something else is going on with that child and it's up the parents to determine what that "other thing" is, instead of just forcing or punishing him or her to bring up their performance. If the child's goal is to be great at watching television or scoring high on video games, then I would challenge that child's parents for not setting clear, reasonable limitations on television watching or game playing. Children and teens should not have automatic and easy access to these time-wasters. Children or teens with low expectations of themselves have something else going on in their life that needs to be investigated by the adults who are caring for them. Children are only a product of the environment in which they are raised. Good question... what is the parents role in taking care of their children's grades? Establishing clear boundaries around time-wasters (video games, televisions, cell phones, facebooks, laptops, iPads, etc.), providing the child with adequate space, supplies, and boundaries around homework, being sure they have an established meal time and bed time so they are fed well and restful for school each day. The parent is also responsible for engaging his or her child in a healthy relationship so that the parent knows exactly what's going on with that child. Hope this helps.
Ray G. Jones, Jr. September 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
As a father of 4 children ranging in ages from 8-16, the topic of parenting is dear to my heart. In your initial post, it seemed to me that you were telling parents that they had little say in their children's grades. My questions were meant to clarify what you are advocating. I see two extremes in our culture. On the one hand, we have absent parents (which are the majority). They're either physically absent from their child's life through dissertion or divorce or they are emotionally absent on account of their own issues. Sadly, the child is left to find their way in the world with little to no guidance. As a result, their grades reflect this. On the other hand, we have obsessed parents who attempt to micromanage their child's life from birth to adulthood to guarantee they achieve "success." Frankly, it's hard to say whether the parent wants the child's success for the child's sake or their own. Neither scenario is healthy. Clearly, parents and children are struggling in our culture. I agree with you that families need to spend less time consuming pop culture through watching multiple forms of media. However, I’d add that many families spend too many weekends filled with wall-to-wall sports. As a pastor, I'd suggest that they would instead set Sunday morning apart as a time to worship God and invest in some spiritual education. Then they can spend the rest of the day enjoying some downtime together discussing what they've learned.


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