When we think about December its natural for many of us to think about the holidays through New Year’s Eve, with shopping for presents, family gatherings and countless calories from all the delicious food we will be eating. The uppermost thought in our mind may not be about our kids’ report cards – but in most schools around the country children are receiving their first formal evaluation for the academic year.
A long time popular belief in our country has been to build our child’s self esteem. If a poor test grade came home, we were supposed to respond in a positive fashion and reassure the children that they are “smart.” In the October 2011 issue of the American Psychological Association journal “Emotion”, Kim Young-Hoon reported that accurate feedback is better than undeserved praise. He found that “the happiest students were the ones who knew how good or bad they were and were told the truth”.
As a reading specialist, many of the children that I work with need some extra support. Step one, for me, has always been, asking their opinions about how they think they are “doing” with reading. Believe it or not, rarely is a child unaware of what they need help with. Most times they seemed relieved to admit that they could use some assistance.
My first hope is that when your kids’ reports cards arrive that there are no surprises. My second hope is that a positive conversation takes place. Listed below are some suggestions for how to make this happen.
- Let your child tell you how he feels about the grades and comments
- Encourage them to talk about some new things learned over the past marking period
- Give praise and most positive comments for the highest grade
- Ask what they would like to change going into the next report period
- Reassure your child that a ”bad” grade is not the end of the world
- Discuss options for improving
- Ask if you may help and how
- Set realistic goals (A “C’ could become a “B”)
- Be positive!