First, you need to check your own expectations.
What are your child’s strengths and what are the characteristics which you know will serve them well through life? Recently a parent told me her daughter’s teachers had always commented that her child would turn out to be a great adult. She’d struggled at school but was now 22, working in London and kicking some big professional goals.
But that’s not a lot of comfort right now if your child is coming home with Ds for effort and comments that suggest a poor attitude.
Start by reading your child’s report quietly on your own. Note their achievements – there’s generally an area where they’re doing well – and think about the areas where you believe improvement is possible.
Next, ask your child to assess themselves.
Kids have a better measure of themselves than we think. If they believe their English mark is the best they can do but they could improve in science and maths then ask them how they might do that. Also ask them what they’re proud of in their report.
Remember that reports are just a snapshot not the whole picture. Evidence of learning skills such as initiative, problem solving and critical thinking will serve them well throughout life so don’t just focus on whether they’ve got a grade of C or D.
Focus more on effort than achievement. They can grow their effort. Equally, try to help them turn negative statements – “I’m hopeless at English” – into positive ones – “I don’t really understand themes yet.” Note: “yet” is the key word in having a growth mindset.
Finally, set goals together.
It may be that they decide not to sit with their friends in maths so they can concentrate on learning concepts. Or it may be that they’re going to work harder on their homework. Or that they’re going to try to adjust their attitude.
When the new term starts, meet with your child’s teacher and discuss the goals you’ve set and ask if there’s anything you’ve missed. Then check in midway through term to discuss how your child is going with reaching those goals.
See more in this weeks issue of New Idea - out now!