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The Secrets To A Good Report Card: Helping Your Child Excel

26 Feb 2014 – 05:43 AM EST

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A report card is a measure of how well your child is capable of demonstrating what he learned, but the tests given to make this determination don’t always allow for a true demonstration of knowledge. A report card does help you stay informed of your child’s progress, and there are ways to help your child have a good report card. Here are my secrets to a good report card:

Reading Every Day

Before my kids could read, I read to them. Once they could read, I required them to. In addition to doing their homework, our kids are required to read at least 30 minutes per day, even in the summer. I’m not sure there is anything more important to a good report card than reading.

Homework Comes First

When our kids get home from school, there is no TV time, computer time, or access to electronics until homework is done. We provide quiet work space and help when they need it. By instilling this habit from the start, homework is always done and turned in on time (getting our son to remember to put his name on his papers is another story!).

Limited Screen Time

During the school week, we do not allow the kids to play video games at all. Those are reserved for the weekends. We let them watch a little TV or share a program as a family, but ask them to end their evening with wind-down time and a good book. We do everything we can to promote good sleep habits.

Treat Each Child As an Individual

Every child learns differently and needs different supports to succeed. While our daughter needs extra practice in math at times, our son never has math homework and spends much of his class time helping classmates understand the more difficult concepts. Our daughter can plan and handle large school projects without anything more from us than the necessary supplies, while our son needs us to help him stay on task to finish the project on time. The point is, every one of our kids has different needs and challenges, and whether he is gifted or has special needs, every child deserves to have an individualized education.

Manage Your Expectations and Theirs

We don’t expect our kids to come home with straight As. We don’t pay them to get good grades, and we don’t reward As over Bs and Cs. Instead, we reward effort. If the kids have done their very best, even if the letter on the report card is a C and not an A, then it is a good report card by our standards.

If you’re worried about your kids getting good grades, remember that some of the most successful people in this country were dropouts, including Einstein, who dropped out of school at age 15, and Walt Disney, who dropped out at 16. While I’m not in any way advocating dropping out, good report cards aren’t everything!