Worried about DD's reaction to report card - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 07-03-2003, 04:28 PM - Thread Starter
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My eldest is a very bright child and an excelent student. Her teachers love her and she is very active in her school. We also make a point of discussing, but not making a huge deal out of, grades. She has never been yelled at for a low grade or punished for not doing her best. The most we have ever said is "well, if you continue missing assignment deadlines you will have to give up some extra stuff". We have never even had to follow through with it because she gets better by the next month.

Given all of that I was totaly startled when she broke down crying at her last report card. She got a 70 (down from an 80) in English but the rest of her marks stayed the same or went up. She also said that her teacher had, jokingly, said that she was telling next years teacher to not accept lower then a 90 from her and Katrina freaked out at the idea. Even after I tried to tell her that her teacher was just giving her a compliment and not to take it seriously she was still very upset.

She said she hates report cards and thinks she never does well enough.

Help, any thoughts short of pulling her out of school?

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#2 of 5 Old 07-04-2003, 09:31 PM
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Report cards are lame. Letter grades are for vegetables, cigarettes and eggs; not people!

Some (very, very few) schools give detailed written progress notes for each child rather than letter grades. I think that's the way to go, but it requires paying careful attention to each student so it's less convenient.

I plan to explain to my child that letter grades are largely meaningless and that many dumb people get high grades and vice versa. Instead of asking "What grade did you get on that test" I want to ask "What did you learn today?"

And of course, never punish her for any type of grade, ever!

I also suggest that if anyone "grades" a kid, that kid then has the right to "grade" the teacher on her own terms. Good things to grade teachers on are imagination, how fun they are, how nice and respectful they are, how much they were willing to sacrifice to help students, etc.
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#3 of 5 Old 07-05-2003, 12:44 PM
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I don't think I'd pull her out of school because of one bad mark, unless it is the straw that is breaking the camel's back. I'd definitely lead her through the thought process of how arbitrary marking can be. I guess I'd also try to work out with her why she hates report cards. Does she hate them when she does well, or just when she does poorly? There is a bit of self-discovery that can go on when you have to measure your own standards against someone else's standards, and it can be really rough.
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#4 of 5 Old 07-06-2003, 10:56 PM
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Is she a perfectionist in her temperament?


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#5 of 5 Old 07-08-2003, 11:53 AM
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I was a perfectionist who worried constantly about my grades while I was growing up -- my own obsession was that I wasn't really as smart as other people thought, and that I was always on the brink of being found out. So anything other than a very high grade was sort of the beginning of the end, from my point of view! Financially, I felt a lot of pressure to do well, also, as I knew that I would have to get lots of scholarships if I wanted access to higher education. I used to plan that if I had kids, I would make sure that I had enough money that they could get all C's all the time if they wanted to!

Probe a bit with your daughter if you can -- how does she feel about her accomplishments? Does she believe she deserves them, or does she think that other people are mistaken in their high regard of her? Does she worry about letting people down, or losing what other people see as special about her? Maybe if you can get some answers about what is behind her upset, you can brainstorm how to deal with the (admittedly stupid) grading process.

If she enjoys the learning process but finds that it gets overshadowed by grade anxiety, are there alternatives within your school system? For example, alternative programs that offer more independent study opportunities and anecdotal report cards are available in many areas, and can be a breath of fresh air for bright, self-motivated students.
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