I care about my kids’ grades. I know that grades do not represent all that my kids learn or don’t learn, but they do represent how well they have been performing on assignments and tests.
I get a progress report emailed to me every other week so I can applaud their good work and discuss any visible problem areas. I encourage them to study and turn in their assignments and I work with them when they are struggling or when they ask for my help. I do not pay or reward my kids for good grades, and I do not punish them for poor grades.
Over the past few months, I noticed a problem area. One of my children was struggling in math. With almost every progress report, I noticed missing assignments or poor grades on quizzes or exams. When I pulled him aside to show him the progress report and ask him about his grades, he acted surprised. We would look for his missing assignments (they were usually somewhere in his binder) and discuss when he could retake quizzes (the teacher allows and encourages retakes). I talked to my child about the class and asked him if he understood what he was learning, or if he felt like he needed more assistance. I assumed that he was just getting used to the rigors of an advanced math class, a new school and new teachers, so I was not too worried.
When December rolled around, my son was still getting poor grades in math. He was not having difficulties in any of his other classes, so I decided to email the math teacher and ask her why she thought my son was struggling. We discussed his skills, his classroom participation and his scores. The teacher delicately told me that this particular advanced math class might not be the right fit for my son. She informed me that he could switch to a different class at the semester, without too much trouble. I discussed it with my son, and he decided to switch classes.
It was difficult for my son to tell me that he was struggling. He was ashamed of his poor grades and embarrassed to change classes (he assumed all of the other students would notice). It was hard for me to let him fail (I believe that kids can learn a lot from failure), and hard for me to know when to step in and help.
I really don’t care what grades my kids get, I care that they understand what they are being taught. I appreciate grades and regular progress reports, because it helps me be more aware of my children’s education. Grades help me to know when I need to discuss struggles and failures and when to congratulate hard work and growth.
Do you check your kids grades? Do you have punishments for poor grades or rewards for good grades? How do you help your kids when they are struggling and get poor grades? Share with me what works for you and your family.