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WEB SPECIAL: Report Card Day can cause anxiety (Opinion)

February 28, 2011

For many families “Report Card Day” is a time of reassurance that their children are responsible and able to learn. When children are passing all their classes, parents are relieved that kids are succeeding.
Many parents set high expectations for report card grades and will look for grades that are well ahead of minimum requirements. When a child has grades in the excellent range parents feel at ease that their child will be in good shape for eventual high school graduation and be well placed for a college admission.
Some children may struggle to achieve all A’s on a report card and may become upset if these grades don’t appear across the card.
For parents of anxious children it may be important to reassure kids that they are doing well even if a grade is slightly lower than the child would like. Kids who strive for perfection can be dismayed when all grades are not at an exceptional level.
Parents can assist these types of children by explaining that achieving perfect grades is not related to their intelligence or self-worth.
People who are very good at literacy may find mathematics more of a challenge and vice versa.
Children benefit from the knowledge that people have an easier time with some subjects than other subjects. Some kids develop anxiety that every grade has to be an A in order to be their parents’ love.
Stating that perfection is not a requirement for acceptance will help children to focus on doing their best without feeling nervous about achieving consistent perfection.
For other families “Report Card Day” is a time of disappointment if grades are marginal or failing.
If a child is failing a class, parents will want to activate in order to get kids to perform better. Completing homework thoroughly and accurately is a source of frustration in many homes but is a large part of doing well in school.
Completing homework can turn a house into a battle ground. Kids use avoidance techniques such as “I don’t have any homework” or “I’ll start once I’m done playing video games”.
Adopting some tactics to combat these avoidant strategies can include: a house rule that all homework comes home to be inspected; checking computer programs set up by schools to monitor class assignments (e.g., IParent); contacting teachers to discuss ways to become informed about homework assignments; developing a homework planner that will be signed by teachers and parents.
Kids who have developed a way to avoid homework will protest at any of these interventions.
Developing a system with kids to monitor homework is a process of finding what works in your home.
There can be an agreement that the system be eliminated or drawn back when the grades go up.
Some kids don’t understand some of the course material and feel unable to complete the work at home.
Parents can provide assistance by setting aside time in the evening to help kids with difficult material.
Helping kids with homework can be difficult for a parent as teaching methods have changed in dramatic ways over the past decade or two, particularly in mathematics.
There is a reason why the game show “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” is intriguing; material covered in fifth grade and beyond gets tough.
Having text books at home to use as a reference is helpful.
It isn’t easy to sit together to complete homework.
Kids protest; parents are tired at the end of a day and get easily annoyed. There are some strategies that families can adopt to take the sting out of homework completion.
Developing games using flash cards created from index cards can help.
Reading text books together and asking questions about the material in a game show way may work. Middle school children may need to take breaks every fifteen minutes to stretch or move around.
Some parents find a kitchen timer helps kids to feel that they are only required to focus for a definite period of time.
Keeping homework as fun as possible may be a way to help kids to elevate grades and shift homework from dreaded torture to a somewhat pleasurable activity.

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