Report Cards: Advice for Parents

Support your child this report card season with our report card advice for parents and guardians.

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Report Card Advice for Parents

A child's report card can bring parents feelings of joy, excitement, and pride; it can also cause concern, frustration, and uncertainty. In either case, the reporting period marks a new beginning to set goals and reflect on students’ past work habits, achievements, and hardships. For parents, it’s a time to communicate with their children and determine a path for future academic enrichment and social-emotional growth.

If you’re unsure how to best support your child during report card season, TeacherVision has your back! We've compiled a list of our top report card advice for parents and guardians.

1. Approach the report card calmly and with an open mind

Mother and teen daughter open school report card together. Report card advice for parents.

Before you even glance at your child's report card, make sure to approach it with an open mind. Set aside any preconceived expectations or anxieties.

Remember that your child is unique and develops at their own pace. Avoid falling into the trap of comparison with other children. Instead, prepare to focus on your child's progress, growth, and their unique learning journey. Plan to celebrate their improvements while addressing areas of concern in a supportive and non-judgmental manner.

This mindset will set a positive tone for the conversation with your child, encouraging open communication and making it easier for you to provide the necessary support.

2. Focus on the positive

Father looking very happy looking at his daughter's grades at home. Report card advice for parents.

Regardless of the grades your child brings home, you must first focus on the positive aspects of the report. This is not always an easy task. For some, this might mean highlighting strong effort or citizenship comments, or praising an academic accomplishment or a perfect attendance record.

Starting on a positive note shows your child that you truly care about the accomplishments, not only areas that need improvement.

3. Ask the right questions

Parents and son having a serious conversation about his report card grades. Report card advice for parents.

Be careful not to overreact to low grades or grades you view to be unsatisfactory. Instead, use this time to look at past performance and plan for the future. Talk to your child and ask questions to understand how a particular grade was earned.

You may want to ask your child:

  • Was the work too difficult?
  • Could the pace of the class be inappropriate (too fast, so that your child feels "lost," or too slow, causing your child to feel "bored")?
  • Do you complete all homework and ask questions when problems arise?
  • Is there anything I can help you with at home?

The answers you receive might indicate a need to review your child's study habits. Determine whether or not your child is recording all assignments and bringing home all materials necessary to complete them. Does your child have a specific nightly homework time (Sunday through Thursday) when he cannot be disturbed? If not, this would be a great time to establish one! If so, is it long enough? Does your child have a specific place to study where resources (including someone to answer questions) are available and distractions are minimized? Is your child completing all homework on a nightly basis, or are assignments being turned in late, or not at all?

Once you have determined the problem, you can begin to create a solution.

4. Meet with your child’s teacher

Close up of high school teacher handshaking with female student's mother in a hallway at school. Report card advice for parents.

Meeting with your child's teacher can be a valuable step after receiving a less-than-ideal report card. This allows you to gain a deeper understanding of any issues and to collaborate on potential solutions. Teachers can provide insight into your child's behavior and work habits in the classroom, and offer suggestions for improvement.

Furthermore, this meeting can signal to your child that you and the teacher are working together in their best interest, which can be a powerful motivator for them to improve.

5. Consider extra-curricular learning resources

Student using laptop having online class with teacher.

If your child's report card is less than ideal, you may want to consider hiring a tutor or using online learning resources.

A tutor can provide personalized attention and help your child strengthen their understanding of challenging subjects.

Online learning resources, on the other hand, offer flexibility and a wide variety of interactive educational content that can cater to different learning styles. Both options can reinforce what your child learns at school and boost their confidence, turning a bad report card into a stepping stone towards academic improvement.

6. Utilize the school's resources

After school group tutoring session. Report card advice for parents.

Many schools offer in-house resources to help students struggling academically. This can include after-school tutoring, study groups, or counseling services. As a parent, reaching out to the school to understand what resources are available can be a significant step towards helping your child improve.

7. Foster a supportive environment for open conversations and goal-setting
Mother and daughter discuss disappointing report card. Report card advice for parents

Creating a safe and supportive environment for open conversations is crucial, especially when dealing with a less-than-ideal report card. Encourage your child to express their feelings and concerns about their grades. Make it clear that setbacks are part of the learning process and that they're not alone in facing challenges. Discuss the report card together and involve your child in setting goals for improvement. This collaborative approach can help lessen the stress and anxiety that come with a bad report card, and instead, turn it into a constructive dialogue and a stepping stone towards improvement.

Help your child set realistic and attainable goals for the next reporting period. Outline ways in which these goals can be met, as well as rewards and consequences if they are not. Type the "official plan" and post one copy in a prominent household location, another in your child's binder, and forward another to her teacher. Involving your child gives her ownership and importance in this process, and this makes the report card important not only to you but also to your child.

8. Encourage a healthy work-life balance

Dad and two kids play soccer outside. Work-life balance image. Report card advice for parents.

While academic performance is important, it's equally critical for your child to have time for relaxation and activities they enjoy. Ensure your child is not only spending time on their studies, but also on hobbies, physical activities, and social interactions. This balance can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being, which can in turn positively impact academic performance.

9. Make learning fun!

Dad helps son with homework. They are both happy and high-five. Report card advice for parents: make learning fun.

Making learning fun can easily be achieved by incorporating your child's interests into their studies. Use games, experiments, and creative projects to help illustrate concepts and ideas. This not only makes the learning process more enjoyable but can also help your child understand and retain the information more effectively.

Remember that learning doesn't have to be confined to textbooks; real-world applications and hands-on experiences can also be incredibly beneficial and engaging.

10. Remember: every child is different

Teacher high-fives young student. Report card advice for parents: every child is different.

As parents and teachers, we want the best for children, but in too many cases this is measured only by the number of A's and B's brought home.

Emphasize to your child the importance of doing the very best job that they can. Encourage them to succeed, and measure their progress in realistic terms, letting them know that you care and are available to help.

Break tasks into small steps, so that even the youngest child can measure her growth, and the most advanced child can monitor her progress. By reviewing the report card, and developing a plan for the future, you will help your child find the road to success.

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