With so much , how much importance should parents be placing on the almighty report card? Do you think it’s an accurate representation of your child’s abilities? Do you offer rewards for good grades? And how do you encourage a child who comes home with bad ones?
Our local Moms Council weighs in.
Jennifer Zeglen: My oldest is only in first grade, so report cards are nice for me to see where she is at, but they really don't mean anything to her. We focus mostly on the marks related to how she pays attention in class. On the last report card she had some trouble talking too much and not getting work done. I don't really blame her; there are different groups of students all doing different things and the work is somewhat monotonous. I can see how it would be hard to focus.
We started asking the teacher for daily reports on how she was focusing in class. Keeping track of it each day (with praise for good marks) has really done the trick. I often think we use rewards too much when all we really need is recognition. Of course, even as I say this I have to admit she also gets ice cream on Friday if she has done well all week!
On another note, my preschooler got a five-page report card. I couldn't believe how detailed it was. It's funny how with my oldest I would have pored over the thing and now it seems kind of ridiculous.
Anastacia Grenda: Maybe it's because we don't have letter grades (EUSD uses a numeric rubric), but it seems that the report card isn't the end-all-be-all for our family. Instead, it's just one tool to track progress and encourage our son. Because he's young enough (first grade) that I still review his homework, and because our teacher gives us a weekly progress report on how he's behaving in class, I feel we have a consistent handle on how he's doing throughout the year and the report card doesn't hold any big surprises.
I actually find our parent-teacher conferences much more enlightening, as we can talk to the teacher about specific goals and areas to focus on. When we do talk about the report card with our son, we also don't focus solely on the numbers—although we do praise him for improving or maintaining good scores—but also on the personal notes the teacher writes commending him on his skills and talents, and on the achievement in quality of work and behavior in class, as we feel those marks are just as important.
Ray Pearson: With all three of my children, we have made learning and “doing the best you can” the foundation for their grades. More importantly, we monitored homework, test and project scores to see how our kids were progressing. As a rule, we did not offer rewards for grades but periodically for a really difficult project or class, we gave in to the occasional ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Report cards are a measurement and we wanted our kids—as well as ourselves—not to be surprised by the result. No matter what grade level, we have worked with our kids and their teachers to look at what they were having a difficult time learning. Usually with a team approach— student, teacher and parent—the grade improved.
Genevieve Suzuki: While I think grades are important, I myself wasn’t held to any standard. My mom was pretty lenient. I brought home average grades several times and was comforted by my mom, who said, “That’s OK. You don’t really need algebra.” Good thing I wasn’t going into medicine or science.
That said, in 2011, times are a’changing. Kids need good grades to get into college—any college. Although a great musician could once get into a state school with average grades, applicants today need to show that they’ve excelled in academics and are well-rounded students. To ignore their importance now would seem almost foolhardy.
When my daughter gets older, although I will make it clear that her grades are important to her future, I won't punish her for getting a less than perfect report card.
Judy Halter and Edie High Sanchez: It is important for children to be intrinsically driven. A bad grade may mean they don’t understand or there is a lack of effort. If they don’t understand, depending on the age of the child, it is best for them to ask for help from the teacher and if that doesn’t seem to produce results, then as a parent it would be wise to inquire how you may support the child. The more the child can do independently, the better.
Teachers also truly respect the child that comes to them for help. Rewards for grades create a vicious cycle; the goal is to have the child have a sense of curiosity and mastery of the material. If there are external rewards, the curiosity of learning is diminished and the goal ends up being the reward. Children that are excited to learn are driven internally, which will sustain their interests and drive.
Meet our moms (and dad):
Genevieve Suzuki has one 2-year-old daughter. In addition to having her own law practice, she writes feature stories for Encinitas Patch. She is also the author of "The Original Poi Cats on O'ahu," a children's book published in Hawaii.
Anastacia Grenda is mom to a 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter who never fail to make her laugh every day. She is a longtime writer and editor.
Jennifer Zeglen is a mom to two imaginative girls, ages 4 and 6. She is also a local naturopathic doctor with a family medicine practice.
Ray Pearson is the father of three children, ages 26, 23 and 17. He lives with his wife in Carlsbad and devotes most of his nonwork time to young people and the Rotary Club.
Judy Adams Halter and Edie High Sanchez are certified Redirecting Children’s Behavior (RCB) instructors with a combined 50 years of parenting experience. Halter is the mother of four children, ages 21, 19, 17 and 14. Sanchez has two grown daughters and three grandchildren; two girls ages 1 and 5, and a boy, age 7. Both women live in La Jolla.
Do you have questions for our Moms Council? E-mail them to editor Jennifer.Reed@patch.com.