Report Card Season: Confessions of a Social Butterfly
March 30, 2012
It’s that time of year again: the long-awaited, and often dreaded . . . Report Card Season! And what goes hand in hand with a report card? Parent-teacher conferences! Those take on a new meaning for me now that I’m a parent.
Parent-teacher conferences bring to mind images of leading my mom through the familiar halls of my school, introducing her to my teachers, waiting for the inevitable report: “Julie’s doing well in school, but she’d do so much better if she didn’t TALK so much in class.” I was always puzzled. Wasn’t that what school was FOR? To share your feelings on the latest episode of the Brady Bunch and play Cat’s Cradle under your desk with your best friend while stuffing wads of Bubble Yum in your mouth?
Unlike parents nowadays, my parents didn’t have an email relationship with my teachers. Back in the “Stone Age,” parents relied on phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and hand-written notes pinned to our coats with straight pins (of all things!), which inevitably stabbed you in the cheek by the time the note reached its intended recipient.
Now, as a parent of two elementary-age children, parent-teacher conferences take on a whole new meaning for me. In some respects, I feel like my kids’ report card grades are a reflection of me and my husband (although he would probably disagree with that statement) and how we’re doing as parents. I know that’s ridiculous because children are their own people and it’s just my mommy guilt (okay, with a touch of narcissism) coming through. I do believe my job as a parent is to help my children learn to be responsible for themselves and take pride in doing a good job for its own sake, rather than to make someone else happy. But that’s often easier said than done, especially when your kids are little. And, of course, many times there are extenuating circumstances preventing your child from learning optimally.
Fortunately, our daughter has taken to reading like a fish to water. However, as much as I love her 3rdgrade teacher, I think we all made a mistake. At the beginning of the year, she told Katie that she was the best reader in the class. While that made us proud, it also seemed to give Katie permission to take it easy and coast a bit. As a result, at Katie’s recent conference, her teacher told us that Katie was losing ground compared to her classmates and her grades went down. She’s also spending too much time “chit-chatting with her friends during class.” Hmmm . . . I wonder where she gets that?
Recently, I read about a study that showed that children who were praised for “working hard” did better in school than those who were praised for being “smart.” Researchers found that praising a child’s BEHAVIOR (studying, thinking, discussing, etc.) positively affects school outcomes more than telling children that they’re intelligent. It’s because being “smart” is looked at as a fixed characteristic—you either ARE or you AREN’T. It can’t be changed. So why bother studying?
After reading this research, and seeing it first hand with our daughter, my husband and I decided to start my daughter on the next Hooked on Phonics reading program, Master Reader. We’re hoping that this and the Reading Pro app will make it more fun for her to work on improving her fluency, comprehension, and flow. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to get her friends to come over and chit-chat about reading (instead of Pokemon) at the same time, then I’ll have the perfect solution. I’ve got it: a kids’ book club! As long as food and friends are part of the equation, it’s sure to work for me—I mean!—HER.
How did your child do on his last report card? What feelings did it bring up for you as a parent?
Updated July 2017: The Master Reader Program and Reading Pro app are no longer available for purchase.