It is a situation every parent can relate to: the moment your child’s report card arrives home from school. Will it contain good or bad news? This is a typical scenario, and one that causes stress for both the parent and the student.
Damien Cooper, independent education consultant, discusses the problem of waiting for a student’s report card in his article A Solution to the Surprise Report Card, “From a parental communication perspective, the grades contained in the report card are ‘“too little, too late.’” The learning cycle for a given term is over, and the grades are merely cause for celebration or recrimination.”
When a student is struggling academically, waiting for a report card can cause the student to fall even further behind- and create skill gaps as materials become more complex. Cooper suggests that, “Since there is plenty of time to improve learning BEFORE grades are determined, the child needs a specific prescription detailing actions that need to be taken to improve.”
Unfortunately, by the time families adjust to the back-to-school routine, the first grading period has ended. So: what can parents do to ensure a more positive outcome on the NEXT report card?
Stay Informed- Most schools have an online interface where you can check your students’ grades, see their homework and other upcoming assignments, and keep track of their progress. If you are unsure of what the website is in your district, you can contact your students’ teachers and request that information. Teacher contact information can be found on the school’s website, under the Staff Directory.
By keeping an eye on your children’s grades before report cards are released, you will have much earlier notice if your student is struggling, and, allowing you to act promptly before they fall behind in school.
Communicate- communicating with the teacher, as well as your student, will help you determine if your student is struggling or behind in any concepts or subjects. Many students will simply respond that everything I “fine” when asked how school is going, so below are some questions to get them talking:
- Tell me about a moment today when you felt excited about what you were learning.
- Tell me about a moment in class when you felt confused.
- What was challenging about your day?
- What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
Keep in mind that students who are struggling can hit a “wall” of frustration and will often avoid working on the subject whenever possible. Keep an ear out for comments like “I hate (subject/class)” “(subject/class is dumb/stupid” and “I am dumb/stupid”.
When students become frustrated with their inability to perform in a certain subject, they often lose confidence. Getting them the help they need early on will boost their confidence as well as performance in school.
Take Action- An academic assessment will provide a wealth of information on your student’s academic abilities. By testing their reading, writing, and math skills you can determine if their struggles are due to skill gaps from previous classes/years, or if it is strictly from their current materials.
Finding the root of students’ struggle in school is key to getting them the help they need to be successful. Struggling in an algebra class can be the result of a misunderstanding of pre-algebra concepts such as fractions. Alternatively, a low grade in social studies can be the product of poor reading comprehension skills.
Another possible reason for low grades could be poor study skills. Many students lack the organizational, note taking, and study strategies needed to excel academically. Indicators of this would be missing/late homework, low test scores, and stress.
Learning proper note taking skills, how to dissect textbook chapters and teacher lectures to get the most salient points, and how to apply multiple learning strategies will help to take the stress out of school.
Finding the right fit for your student’s supplemental learning will be the difference between a frustrated student and a confident student or between a bad report card and a good one.
ACE Tutoring provides more than homework help for task completion. We incorporate specialized training that enhances a student’s study skills, individualized programs tailored to each student’s area of concern, and supplementary work specifically made to reinforce skills practiced during the session. If you are concerned that your student may be falling behind in school, contact ACE today to schedule your student’s academic assessment!