When Mid-Term Reports Disappoint

It’s mid-way through the semester for most of the country, and that means interim report cards are out!

For many families, mid-term report cards are simply a checkpoint to ensure that students are on the right track to earn the best grades possible. But for other families, mid-term report cards can be a nasty surprise.

What should parents do when their children bring home disappointing grades?

At C2 Education, we see many students whose parents are unhappy with their academic performance. Addressing the problem can often be tricky. We’ve compiled a list of best practices for addressing less than stellar grades:

  • Don’t jump to punishment: It’s tempting to yell, ground, and otherwise punish students for bad grades — and we aren’t necessarily saying that punishment isn’t needed. But we find that bad grades often have a deeper root cause, and it is important to discover the reason behind the bad grades before jumping straight to the punishment phase. Sometimes it’s a social problem at school, other times students might have an issue with a particular teacher. Sometimes, surprisingly enough, bad grades can be a sign that the student is actually too smart — gifted students often become bored in regular classes and fail to pay enough attention. Whatever the cause, it’s important to make sure that bad grades aren’t a sign of a bigger problem before punishing students.
  • When punishment is needed, don’t take school activities away: When bad grades really are the product of laziness or negligence on the student’s part, obviously punishment is needed — but don’t take school activities away. High school students need those extracurricular activities for their college applications; preventing students from participating in school teams or clubs might make your student unhappy, but it also might harm their chances for admission to a top college. What’s the point of earning good grades if the rest of the college application is lacking?
  • Communicate with the teacher: Communication with your child’s teacher is key to your child’s success. Teachers spend a great deal of time with your child, which often gives teachers insight into your child’s academic performance. By speaking with your child’s teacher, you can discover why your child is really earning poor grades. Is it that your child isn’t doing homework? Perhaps you and the teacher should create a system to ensure that you are aware of all assignments. Is it that your child has difficulty concentrating in class? Perhaps you and the teacher could communicate regularly so that you can carefully track your child’s progress. Regardless of the problem, communicating with your child’s teacher will likely be of great value to both you and your budding scholar.
  • Communicate with your child: Before you yell, ask your child to explain his or her grades. Listen carefully to what your child has to say. If your child has a valid excuse, try to come up with a solution together. And if your child lacks a valid excuse (as is often the case), work with your child to create academic goals and plans for reaching those goals. When you involve your child in the process of creating expectations, he/she is more likely to try to live up to them.
  • Set aside homework time: We find that many bad grades come from failing to complete homework assignments on time. When this is the case, it is important to set up well structured homework time. Create a specific place and time for studying every day. Even when your child doesn’t have homework, he/she should dosomething academic during this time. By creating these good habits now, you can save yourself and your child a great deal of trouble down the road.
  • When all else fails, look for outside help: When nothing else works, visit a place like C2 Education to get expert advice to help your child improve his grades. Perhaps he suffers from test anxiety (key symptoms of test anxiety: high marks on homework and in-class assignments, but bad marks on tests and quizzes) — C2 Education’s tutors and counselors can help with that. Perhaps your child needs extra attention that his/her teacher simply can’t provide — C2 Education’s small class sizes ensure plenty of one-on-one help from tutors. Whatever the problem, C2’s experienced staff can help.