Think back to when you were a kid in school. Did you dread report card day, or even try to hide your grades from your parents? Or were you psyched to show off how you’d aced that super tough class? Either way, the day those grades were given out was probably a big one emotionally—and your daughter is likely dealing with some big emotions of her own now that her grades are coming in.
Whether you like it or not, report cards are a big deal. Not because grades are the end-all-be-all measure of your child (they’re definitely not, even though they will help her get into college someday!), but because she spends the vast majority of her time at school and studying. School isn’t all there is to your daughter’s life, but it’s a big part of it, and showing interest and investing the time to discuss how she’s doing will show that you care about her and what’s going on in her world.
Talking about report cards can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, sitting down and going over her end-of-term marks can bring you closer. Let Girl Scouts’ resident Developmental Psychologist, Andrea Bastiani Archibald walk you through the big grade talk with these simple tips.
- Find the good first
Your daughter shines in math, so tell her you’re proud of her grade, and ask her why she thinks she does so well in it. Understanding what she likes about a subject she excels in can help you strategize how to make other areas that she doesn’t like as much more appealing.
- Value effort more than the grade itself
An A that she earned super easily shouldn’t be praised more than a B that she truly had to work for. Ask her what was difficult for her about that particular subject and what helped her earn such a solid grade in the end. Did she make flash cards or study after school with a friend? The ability to work through problem areas will take her far in life, and the strategies she’s using now will help her for years to come. Celebrate her determination!
- Question perfection
Speaking of that A that she earned super easily . . . is she being challenged enough? If your daughter is barely studying, cruising through homework, and still skating by with great grades, there’s a good chance she should be in a more advanced class. And no, it’s not better to keep her in the easier classes so she gets straight As and a higher GPA. Think of it this way—years from now, when she’s in college, and then eventually when she’s employed in a competitive field, it’ll be hard work and determination that will get her through. If she’s not learning how to deal with challenges now, she won’t be as good at handling them later on!
- Ask how she can do better
If she has a not-so-great grade, or one she’s feeling embarrassed about, first ask if she was surprised by the grade she received. If she’s been reading the feedback on her assignments and communicating with her teacher, she should always know how she’s doing in any given subject. If she’d been expecting a low grade for a while, ask her what she’s done to try to bring it up—and teach her to be her own advocate. Ask if she’s gone to her teacher for extra help or if she’s asked a friend who’s doing better in the subject to explain areas she’s unsure about. If your daughter insists the grade is unfair and that the teacher just “hates” her (we’ve all been there!), hear her out and think about whether or not you think there’s some merit to what she’s saying. It’s extremely doubtful that any teacher hates your child, but there can be personality mismatches or simply miscommunications in the classroom. If you think that’s the case, take some time to get to know the teacher yourself and perhaps set up a conference with him that your daughter can also be a part of. The big point here is that you want her to take ownership over her own grades, working through solutions that will help her succeed. It might seem simpler to handle it on your own, but that won’t teach your daughter much about leadership or independence!
When you’re done going over your daughter’s report card, make sure to reinforce that you love her no matter what, and that you’re on her side and want to see her do as well as possible in all areas of her life. And as the new term starts, keep talking about how she’s doing in school. Ask her about her goals, her trouble spots, and even her tiniest victories. Knowing you care means more than you might know.