The report card has finally made its way into your hands. Before you open it and take a quick glance at the grades your child received, you may be surprised to learn that there’s more to the report card than the letter grades you see. As a former teacher and now a parent of three, I’ve learned that the report card can tell you much more than how your child is doing academically. Not only that, but how you approach the report card can change what you see.
Before you begin, understand the grading scale.
Every school district is different, but typically, children won’t receive the traditional A, B, C grades until second or third grade. Until that point, they’ll often receive letters indicating the progress they are making (DC-demonstrates consistently or PR-making progress, for example). Familiarize yourself with the grading scale your child’s school and grade level uses. Many parents forget that in most school districts, a C means average-which isn’t a bad grade!
Pay attention to the teacher’s written comments.
You may be able to learn more from what the teacher says than from the grades that your child receives. This is especially true of young children, where teachers can and will comment on social interactions, attention span, as well as academics. Expect that teachers will comment on areas they are concerned about.
Think about feedback you’ve received prior to the report card.
Have you heard anything, positive or negative, from your child’s teacher already this year? Has your child had trouble with listening skills, math problems, or reading their sight words? Think about not only written and verbal feedback you’ve received from your child’s teacher, but the feedback you’ve received from your child about how they think the school year is going, what they have found hard and easy, and how they are getting along with their peers. All of these should lay the groundwork for report card grades. There should be very few, if any, surprises on a child’s report card.
Remember the marking period.
Teachers often want to leave room for your child to show progress and improvement, so remember the marking period when you examine your child’s report card. In addition, the material covered later in the year will often be more in depth and complex and children who struggled some at the beginning of the year will have a harder time with material that builds upon those beginning concepts. Think about the marking period, the material covered, and your child’s overall performance throughout the year when examining a report card.
Ask your child what’s in their report card.
As a final tactic, consider asking your child to predict the contents of their report card before it is opened. This is a great lesson in self-assessment. You can learn as much from your child’s predictions as you can from the report card itself.