How to Deal With a Bad Report Card

One of the most trying times for students and parents can arise around the dissemination of report cards. Students receive report cards multiple times a year and the experience can be very stressful. Here are some tips to take the stress out of possibly receiving the dreaded “bad report card”. 


Real Talk With no Tears

Children are under a lot of pressure these days to excel at grades and extracurricular activities. As soon as the students receive their report cards, their anxieties rise throughout the day as they attend classes. Realize that if a child receives a bad report card, they have most likely been beating themselves up all day. It is best to approach the discussion about grades with restraint and calmness. 


Set Goals


Put the focus on what can be done to improve the grade for the next quarter. Work together to think through a plan that will utilize the after school help hours that teachers often offer, or find an alternative program or service to help like Hoot! Explain how important it is to receive one-on-one or small group instruction to review or relearn major concepts. Depending on your child’s personality, it may be appropriate to offer a reward to be enjoyed once the child has met their goal and their grades begin to improve. 


How to Avoid a Repeat Performance


Imagine the worst has happened and your child’s report card is very disappointing. Take a proactive approach in the beginning of the year or beginning of each quarter by making contact with the child’s teacher and do occasional check-ins by email. Keep track of your child’s progress throughout the entire quarter. Most schools divide their year using four quarters that approximately contain 8 weeks per quarter. 


Communication is Key


The best thing to do is to establish a close relationship with your child’s teachers from the beginning of the year. Send emails or use the online school communication site to keep in close contact. Usually the child’s guidance counselor or homeroom teacher will send home directions that explain how to contact your child’s teachers. Sending out a hello email to introduce yourself and offering a few insights on your child (before school begins) helps teachers to get an idea of a child’s needs earlier. Also, make sure teachers are aware of any extenuating circumstances, so that they will understand how to meet your child’s needs. 


Schedule Conferences


Schedule conferences to discuss the progress halfway through the quarter. This leaves enough time for you to be aware of the areas where your child needs assistance. Timing is everything, so find out what the turn-in deadlines are for late or make up work. 


Fail Forward


Allowing our children the space to make mistakes is sometimes difficult for parents. Kids need to know it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as they make honest attempts to learn what they did, what they should have done, and what they will do going forward. To better support this theory, share a few biographies of famous people that endured hard times before being discovered and “failing forward” to greatness. 

Finally, our children need our support, as well as a safe place to share their fears and concerns about school. Let’s encourage our children to take personal responsibility, but also be brave enough to take risks that allow their talent to shine in new and different ways!