Have you ever been shocked or disappointed with your child’s End Of Year Report? If so, you’ll know that it’s difficult because you know you have done your bit. You’ve got them to school on time with all the books and bits and pieces they will need, fed them well, made sure they’ve done their homework and checked on their progress at parent-teacher interviews. And yet they’ve still come home with an End Of Year Report that disappoints and contains comments about poor effort and patchy performance. So what do you do? Many parents react by attacking the school, accusing the child or blaming the teacher. But there are a few things you should know before you react in this way. This post will show you some strategies to make sure you know how to turn a disappointing End Of Year Report into a positive outcome for your child.
The first thing to do is to arrange a time when you can sit down with your child to go through their Report. We’re looking for a time when they are calm and not distracted by friends or siblings and a time when you are not pressured by time or work issues. Do not try to bring poor school results into an ‘off the cuff’ argument of disagreement you are having with your child. Calmly arrange a meeting with your child and start the ball rolling with these things in mind:
- Make sure your child has read their report fully before you meet.
- Ensure your child understands that you are having this discussion because you want to help them understand their school report with their best interests next year and in the future in mind. Explain to them that you are looking for lessons where they can learn from the report and what has happened this year- lessons they can apply next year.
- Try to be a good listener. We’ll get to some questions you can ask them later but try to just listen to what your child has to say without judging or accusing them.
Alright now, let’s have a look at some strategies you can use:
- Ask your child to rank their performance out of ten for each of their subjects. Take notes of their rankings and any comments your child makes about their rankings. For example, if Johnny gives Phys Ed a ranking of 2/10 and makes a comment that he doesn’t mind the PE it’s just he can’t stand Mr ????? (the teacher) take a note of this. Continue through for every subject. If your child doesn’t give you any comments about their rankings, ask a question such as, “What would have to happen to take your 5/10 to a 6/10?” or, “Is there anything I can do to help you move your 5/10 to a 6/10?”
- Acknowledge any successes in the report. We don’t want the child to generalise one or two poor subject reports into thinking their whole school report is poor. We want them to see things as they are, not worse than they are. Acknowledging areas of success will help your child keep things in perspective.
- Keep you eye out for subjects where effort is high but performance is poor. It may well be worth talking to the subject teacher if this occurs. I remember I really struggled to learn to play a musical instrument and it seemed the harder I tried, the worse I went. Not everyone is born to play music! If this happens in a subject with your child, acknowledge with them that you are proud that they have given 100% in a subject they find difficult. All we can ask is that they try their best.
- Ask your child to give you their interpretation of any teacher comments that disappoint. For example, if a teacher has written a comment like, “Johnny rarely comes to class well prepared” ask ‘Johnny’ what he thinks the teacher means by this. By understanding a teacher’s comment from your child’s perspective you can then help them find some solutions. And that should be your next strategy.
- Tease out some solution options from your child. To use the example from the previous strategy, you could ask your child, “What do you think is one thing you could do to be better prepared for this class?”…and then, “Is there anything else you can think of?”…or, “What can I do to help you be better prepared for class?” Tease out some solution options and make a list of them. Then help your child to decide on a plan so that they can solve, or at least improve, the issue.
Now that you know some strategies for dealing with a disappointing End of Year Report, you’re ready to use the Report as a springboard for an improved outcome for your child’s future without worrying that it will end up in tears and arguments with your child.