A+ advice for when your child brings home a bad report card

Student booksIt’s report card time, a source of pride for many families. But what do you do when your child brings home a report card that’s less than stellar?

Think carefully before reacting, say area school administrators.

“If a parent becomes overly angry about grades and report cards, students will close down dialogue about their progress for fear of negative reactions,” says Megan Back, administrator and director of admissions at St. Mary’s Elementary in Annapolis. “Using the positive outlook approach with students will benefit their classroom performance, enhance parent-child dialogue and likely increase school outcomes in the future.”

Understanding why a child has poor performance is also crucial to helping them get back on track.

“Gather some information before you react to your child,” says Molly Gearhart, supervisor of student services and guidance for Calvert County Public Schools. “It is important for a parent to understand why a child is not doing well — sometimes they are having a hard time understanding the material, which is a very different situation than a child that is choosing not to do assignments.”

Most children bring home a bad report card at least once in their academic career. The key is to help them get back on track as soon as possible.

“The most important thing a parent can do is communicate,” says Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesperson Maneka Monk. “Many parents ask to speak with teachers too late.”

Though most schools have parent/teacher conferences a few times per year, Monk suggests a proactive approach. “Parents can request a conference with a teacher at any time or ask to meet with administrators to seek out additional resources, like tutoring or study programs.”

A disappointing report card doesn’t mean a lifetime of academic failure. It can serve as a wake-up call for parents and kids.

“When a child brings home a disappointing report card, it can be a great opportunity to connect and support your child, and open up a dialogue. While it may bring disappointment at first, a poor report card could provide the chance to support your child as he or she works to achieve their personal best,” Back says.

Tips from the teachers and counselors

For future success, keep in mind this advice from area counselors and administrators:

  • Communicate – Contact the teacher and express your concerns. If a conference is not already scheduled, request one and ask that the teacher keep you informed about any future concerns.
  • Stay informed – Most schools have an online system, like AACPS Parent Connect, that allows parents to check grades at any time and will prevent future surprises.
  • Develop a plan – “A guidance counselor can work with the parent and student to develop goals and strategies. Sometimes just analyzing what brought a grade down gives a student a good sense of what is required in the future,” Gearhart says.
  • Get extra help – Most county middle and high schools have a “flex lunch” period twice a week where free tutoring is offered, and many schools offer free after-school tutoring.
  • Ask about study programs – Many school districts offer specialized programs designed to help students achieve success like Anne Arundel County's AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program for secondary students to help with organizational and time management skills and study techniques.

By Katie Riley

Click here for tips for parent-teacher conferences.

© 2018 Chesapeake Family Life. All Rights Reserved.