Saturday, November 19, 2011

Turn the Report Card Over

When you go to parent and teacher conferences, which I hope you do, take the grade card and turn it over.  Instead of talking about points needed to change an A- to an A, look at the teacher and ask, "Is she kind?" and "Is she trying?"  A child who can get along with people and who works hard will do well.  And, every child can succeed in these areas.

A mindset of working hard to learn and grow will help your child use and develop God given abilities.  When you focus on your child's effort and learning instead of grades, you teach him or her a deeper motivation that will bring not only good, deep learning, but is more likely to bring better grades as a result . Focusing on the details of grades or the points he or she scored in a game is short sighted.  Encourage the long term investment of learning, growing, and trying and let the results happen naturally and without anxiety.

And, a child who shows kindness and works well with others will be given ample opportunity to learn collaboratively, to learn leadership, and to learn the value of serving.  That child will be respected as he or she respects others, respects the teacher, and respects learning.  Character and compassion are rocks that will help a child succeed in school, work, family, and life.  When we focus our questions on character and compassion, our children learn what is important to us and those qualities become important to our children.

Grade cards give glimpses of how a child is doing in school.  They are good tools to recognize potential areas of need if things aren't working.  They help you have a sense of how your child is learning the educational objectives that are being assessed.  But, normally they don't give a lot of information on the important long term skills with people and a mindset of growth. It is our job as parents to make sure our children know what we value and to make sure that what we value is of prime importance. You will probably have to ask questions to find out about characteristics that are important, but not found on the reports.

Even if you missed parent and teacher conferences or you don't have them, how about a note to your child's teacher asking how your son or daughter is treating people?  And, what kind of attitude he or she has toward work and learning?  Avoid the little details of a point here or there and make a big deal out of love and trying. Let your child know you are checking these things.  This approach will pay off in the long run.  I hope you will enjoy the freedom of a focus on kindness and effort and are refreshed as you watch the results.

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