Answer: Monroe Public School report cards went home just before we started Winter Break. Did they get lost in the holiday shuffle? Were you able to review the report card with your child and make plans as you move ahead? I hope you all had – or will take – an opportunity to look at them and note any concerns or focus for improvement, as well as celebrate your child’s strengths and progress already made. Were there any surprises?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about report cards.
- Understanding the goal of report cards:
The report cards are a snapshot of your child’s progress as seen at the beginning of the year, taking into account the adjustment of a new classroom environment. The goal of the report card, especially in the elementary grades, is for teachers and parents to communicate about each child’s progress. Each reporting period marks a great time to set goals and reflect on achievements, challenges, and work habits. It is a time for you to communicate with your child and determine a path for future academic enrichment and social-emotional growth.
- Looking at your child’s marks:
Don’t get so focused on the numbers or letter grades, but rather take this report as a chance to give you specific information about what your child needs help with. If the report card showed 1s (does not meet standard) or 2s (partially meets standard), let that be your immediate focus. If your child received a 4 in a specific area, what are some things you can do at home to help challenge him/her? What unique projects and/or additional work can you provide that will continue the momentum he/she is on? Keep into account that, with the 1-4 grading system, very few students will be exceeding standard (4) in any area at this point in the year.
- Asking the right questions:
If you’re struggling with where to go after looking at the report card, ask yourself some questions. What do you know about the area of concern(s) identified in the report card? Do you need specific information from the teacher about how to assist your child in that area? Does looking at your child’s homework help? What about a quick Internet search? What can you do to help get him/her to standard by the next grading period?
There are some questions you need to ask your child, too. Was the work too difficult? Could the pace of the subject in class be the struggle (too fast so your child feels confused or too slow so your child feels bored)? Does your child complete all homework and ask questions when problems arise?
- Planning next steps:
The answers you find to your questions might indicate a need to review your child’s study habits, revamp your evening schedule, designate a homework helper, and/or search for more learning practice at the library or online.
Once you have determined the problem, you can begin to create a solution. Set realistic and attainable goals with your child. If your child needs help on math, are there online games or apps focusing on specific concepts he/she might benefit from? If your child struggles with reading comprehension, can you create some questions he/she can answer after reading a passage? If your child is below standard in fluency, can you provide a timer and create a chart to monitor progress?
Goal setting is beneficial for every child at every grade level! Share those goals with your child’s teacher. Outline ways in which these goals can be met, create rewards for when they are met, and have backup plans for if they aren’t. Post them and refer to them. Involving your child in goal setting gives him/her ownership in this process, and, by developing a plan for the future, you will help your child find the road to success.
Jessica Conte is a Nationally Board Certified teacher, has eight years of teaching experience in Monroe, and is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at Seattle University. For questions to be answered in future Ask a Teacher columns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.