Bringing Home Bad Grades: Tips to Handle the Let Down

You open your child’s book bag and there, among broken pencils and that night’s homework, is a note from school. It turns out your young one isn’t doing so well academically. You’ve received a report that your child needs some improvement. Now what do you do?

Get your child’s perspective

You may automatically jump to blaming them for their struggles. Don’t do this. Instead, ask them what’s going on in class. If you’re helping them with their homework and know that’s not the source of the issue, there may be something else.

It could be that your children need some additional class time help, doesn’t have a good view of the blackboard, or sits next their best friend chatting instead of learning. Or there may be a social problem like bullying or anxiety involved. Either way, the first step is to get your child’s point of view before you jump to conclusions.

Meet with the teacher

A notice is all fine and good, but you’re going to need more information to best help your child. At this point, it’s important to reach out to the teacher and speak with her directly. She may think that you’re aware of the issue when you are, unfortunately, totally in the dark.

During this meeting (or series of emails), it’s important to get your teacher’s perspective of what’s happening with your child. Remember that your child’s teacher is there to help you and maintain a good working relationship with their student. Don’t go in with prejudices, accusations, or blame.  If your child is really struggling, you want to get the information you need to help them.

Conversely, if you have new information (such as something in the home that may be affecting their education – separation, divorce, death, etc.) then it is important to let the teacher know this as well.

Identify the source

If your child is just having some trouble grasping the work itself, look for solutions to this problem. Some extra work at home or a tutor may help, or look for new ways to explain the information.

Look for written materials or videos online to supplement that school’s teaching resources. Spend some time working through the assignments one-on-one with your child, to provide guidance along the way.

If the problem is more social in nature, you will have to work with your child and her teacher to lessen the issue. This isn’t as simple as just getting a few extra homework problems done a night.

You need to identify if your child is facing a temporary or ongoing issue. For example, a child whose grades have dropped after a death in the family may be dealing with some temporary trauma that can, with love and care, be worked through.

However, a child suffering from bullying is experiencing an ongoing problem that will need further intervention.

Understand the resources available

Remember, everyone wants your child to succeed. It’s not you against them, everyone is in it together. If there is something larger at play, like an undiagnosed disability such as dyslexia or ADHD, then this is the time to look into further evaluation.

If your child already has a documented disability, then now may be the time to start thinking about an IEP or 504 Plan. Even if your child hasn’t needed one in the past, there’s a chance that they may need one now.

If the issue stems from inadequate class materials, poor learning environment, or other school-related issues, you will have to advocate for your child and try to get the school to resolve their problems immediately.  It’s likely other children may be suffering as well, so rally some parental support and get your group voice heard.

Partner with your child and remediate

A notice that your child isn’t doing well in school is shocking, and you may feel compelled to push your child extra hard. Don’t do this. It will only put more stress on your child who is likely already anxious about falling behind.

Instead, take a calm stance and work towards finding better solutions. Be open to what both your child and the teacher have to tell you – and don’t assume that the fault lies solely in a lack of hard work.

If the discussions you’ve had with your child and her teacher just don’t seem to compute – or if you want a first-hand experience of the situation – consider volunteering for a few days.  You’ll be able to see the learning environment, get a sense of expectations, and an understanding of how your child compares to grade-level standards.

Once you have a full understanding of the problem, focus on the solution.  Come up with a remediation plan that can be implemented in easy steps and help your child work toward success.  Set goals that are achievable and reward them for strong consistent efforts.

Have you received a low-level notice from your child’s school?  How did you deal with the problem?

Tags : education   school   report cards   bad grades   

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