By now you and your child should have a general idea of what his or her final grades will be for this semester, barring an unexpected score on a final exam or project. If you have not had a conversation with your child about his or her grades yet, now is a good time. When June rolls around, it may be too late to have a meaningful discussion around the subject, since summer and its many distractions will be well underway.
How should you talk to your child about grades? Think back to what your parents told you about the grades you received on your report card. Was there something positive and uplifting you remember about those conversations, or were they anxiety-inducing? Did your parents punish you, or set healthy expectations, boundaries, and support to help you set yourself up for success the following year? Now is the time you can establish positive patterns for your child’s development of responsibility and accountability that will help him or her child throughout their academic career and beyond.
First, talk openly and honestly about what each grade reflects about this year’s effort. Did he or she receive an A in Math because of all the hard work put into studying for tests and quizzes? Was that B- in History due to incomplete homework assignments? What about that miraculous A- in AP World History – was that due in part to getting a tutor second semester or submitting several extra credit assignments? Further, talk about the implications for next year’s course schedule. Do these grades indicate your child’s classes are at the right level? Maybe they indicate your child is ready for more challenging coursework, Honors or AP classes. Or perhaps, your child struggled and would do better in a class that moves at a slower pace? For parents of high school students, it’s important to discuss how this semester’s grades will affect his or her overall GPA and which colleges will be sensible to target.
These discussions can be fraught with tension and emotion, and that is OK. The best thing you can do as a parent is to try to separate your expectations for success from your child’s. If you focus on what your child wants to get out of the rest of his or her school years, you will be able to foster a healthy response to his or her performance. Sometimes that means framing the discussion about how to approach this coming summer. Did your child not get the grade he or she wanted in English? How about trying a tutor over the summer to help with a summer reading project? Getting your child summer help is a great way to prevent the “summer slide” and set him or her up to achieve their best next year.
As always, we are here to help. To inquire about getting support over the summer, or to ask about how you can talk to your child about end-of-year grades, call our office at 310-571-1176 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Posatko, M.Ed.
Director of Education