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Children's Grades and Parental Expectations

Jan 08, 2011 | By Harvey Craft

Good gradesFor parents to want their children to perform well in school is normal. But when expectations become too lofty, they can be counter-productive to learning.

Few things bring joy to parents like a child whose academic efforts are validated by a straight-A report card. High expectations are an important key to good grades, but parents must temper high hopes with realism. Parents must not place academic achievement too high. Children must not feel that the grades they achieve in school define their worth as people.

Reasonable Parental Practices for Encouraging Good Grades

  • Parents should promote a love of learning. Reading aloud to children is a proven method for helping them enjoy reading.
  • Home should have books, magazines, and newspapers - parents should read for their own enlightenment and pleasure.
  • Emphasize learning rather than grades. Many bright children make average grades.
  • Provide a schedule and a place for school work at home. Be sure children develop a regular routine about studying.
  • Try to instill the belief in children that learning is not a means to an end, but a goal in itself which leads ultimately to success. Minimize external rewards. The grades a person makes will not likely be as apparent later in life as will be a love of learning and creativity. Fussing over grades adds to stress and distracts children from the real purpose of education.
  • Buy educational games for children and play the games with them.
  • Post good papers on the refrigerator or another appropriate place.
  • Discuss successes and failures with children in a supportive, encouraging manner.
  • Offer praise for studying as well as grades.
  • Buy books and appropriate reading material for children. Limit TV and video games.

Parents Should Avoid Being Negative, Intimidating, or Punitive About Grades

Parent scolding child over bad gradesMany parents feel that punishment is an absolutely essential component of child-rearing, and there is no question that children occasionally need to be corrected. Correction, however, doesn't have to be mean-spirited or painful. Parents should spend time establishing themselves as authority figures who are in charge. Children who respect the authority of parents can be managed more easily.

When grades consistently seem to indicate that something is interfering with a child's achievement at school, parents need to intervene. Intervention might involve the techniques above, and might call for some adjustment in the child's routine. The child should be a participant in the investigation of the problem and allowed to make suggestions for solutions.

Parents are the final authority, however, and decisions may have to be made that the child does not like. To be certain of the corrective path is essential. Intervention must make sense and it must be based on a trusting relationship between parents and children.

Some of the techniques listed above might help and teachers might offer specific remedies.
A few behaviors to avoid are listed below:

  • Don't over-react. One or two bad grades do not necessarily indicate disaster. There is no need to get involved in a heated discussion. It may only serve to make a child more reluctant to open up.
  • Don't expect prefect grades. Even gifted children stray from the straight and narrow. Something as simple as missed homework might be the culprit.
  • Don't immediately assume that punishment will help. Punishment, like confinement to the bedroom, can have unpredictable results. A plan designed to solve the identified problem is a reasonable way is better. A logical approach helps the child learn problem-solving techniques. Certainly, the plan might not be pleasant and may require more effort from the child, but it should not be arbitrary.
  • Don't take the attitude that the child created the problem and must suffer the consequences on his own. Be supportive and offer assistance in bring grades up.
  • Don't assume a child can make the best grades. This requires that parents know what their children can accomplish, and this means staying involved in the process of education from day one and paying attention to test scores and other information provided by teacher assessments.
  • Don't push children to achieve above their ability levels. Education is important, but it should not be viewed as a status symbol. Responsibility, manners, self-esteem, character development, and other factors are important to success. Education without these aspects can be ineffectual.
  • Don't lean too heavily on extrinsic rewards. There is a danger that the reward will become the goal to the exclusion of learning.

Parents Should be Involved in Their Children's Education

Parent meeting teacherWhen parents care about education and quietly reinforce its importance children perform better in school. Not all parents can volunteer at school, but those who can will likely see benefits. Going to PTA and other school meetings is an important way to connect parents with their child's education.

Always­, always­­ attend conferences requested by teachers. There needs to be a partnership between the school, the parent, and the student. Meeting with teachers is an excellent way to strengthen the partnership.

There is nothing magic about getting children to achieve well in school. It takes knowledge of what works and what doesn't. Parents need to be consistent and supportive and instill in their children an appreciation of education and its benefits while focusing on responsibility and character development.

About the author:
Harvey Craft
 is a retired educator and former principal, with extensive experience in teaching grades six through to twelve. He is NBPTS certified in Adolescent Science and now spends his time in educational research, consulting, and freelance writing.
Click here to contact or read more articles by Harvey Craft.

Tags : parenting, grades, education, child, children, kid, kids, tips, advice

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