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Deciphering Your Child’s Report Card – Part Two

In case you missed it, read part 1 Deciphering Your Child’s Report Card Part One

Oxford Learning recommends that parents and children examine report cards together. This can help open lines of communication about the child’s achievements and needs for improvement. Be positive and avoid arguments. This is the time to begin developing goals and an action plan that can lead to strengthened skills, improved grades, self-confidence and motivation.

“Sit down with your child after dinner when the household is quiet and review the report card together,” says Kelley McGregor, Director of Training and Operation, Oxford Learning. “Always start with empathetic and positive comments such as: This is a big year. I know it’s harder this year. We are really pleased with your spelling; or, you are showing great improvement in science. Next, review learning strengths. Children need praise. Congratulate them and tell them how well they are doing. Now is the time to address challenges and set the plan for the rest of the year. Children quickly sense if you are on their side. By telling them how proud you are, you give them the confidence and support they need to manage difficulties and strive for improvements. Only after you have accentuated the positive should you address the key areas that need improvement.”

When the News Isn’t Positive: Your Child is Not Alone

Most children have at least one subject that could benefit from special attention, and it is often the same subject as the year before. Chances are that if a student had trouble with a subject last year and didn’t work on it over the summer, the challenges are even more overwhelming and demoralizing in the new school year. If the child had difficulty with reading comprehension or problem-solving, it is crucial that it be addressed as soon as possible.

“Don’t be surprised or disappointed if the comments are similar to the previous year, this is a clear signal that your child needs help,” says Ms. McGregor. “Look for common themes and quickly recognize the symptoms of academic challenges. If your child complains about or is very unhappy about a particular teacher or course, take it seriously.”

Traditionally, children who are doing well in class and achieving their potential, do not complain very much. It’s usually those students who are struggling who are most vocal. Their complaints are often a call for help. Listen carefully without interruption. Parents are often amazed by how much they can learn about their child through the process of reviewing a report card, and listening to their explanations.

Once parents have reviewed ’the facts’ of their child’s report card, the most important section to look at is the teacher’s personal comments. Teachers will usually provide their insights into learning strengths and identify areas that require improvement. Some reports also provide a comparative analysis between your child and the rest of the class. This will help parents gauge whether or not their child is picking up as easily as most of the other children in the class.

A child’s approach to homework, assignments and studying, is often a good indication of their comfort with their school work. Study skills are often a child’s biggest problem and too often students are never taught how to study and how to learn. This basic skill will help every child improve their success. “Spend a few moments watching how your child does homework,” recommends Ms. McGregor. “You will be surprised at how much you can discern from this little task, and be optimistic, because new and better study skills can be learned at any age.”

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