By Julie Diamond
**Reposted from January 24 2020 and updated**
February is the time of year when you get your child’s report card. You may also get the opportunity for a parent-teacher interview to discuss or ask any questions. It’s important to take the time to review the report card with your child. The report card is a great resource to reflect on your child’s achievements and areas to work on. Here are some suggestions to make it a positive and effective experience:
1. Review it independently. Read the comments and make notes of the successes and areas of improvement. Planning what you want to discuss with your child beforehand makes for a more productive and positive discussion. Keep in mind that every year is different, and some grades/subjects are generally more challenging than others.
2. Read the report card with your child. Ask them about their thoughts. Listen to what they have to say because they will have valuable insight. Celebrate their successes and keep the conversation positive. Don’t compare your child with another friend or family member. It’s important to remember that every child learns and performs differently.
3. Discuss learning and/or IEP needs (if applicable): If your child is on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and receiving accommodations or modifications, it is also a good time to discuss if they feel supported in class, if they are getting their extra time, etc. For children ages 12+, encourage them (with small steps) to communicate their needs to their teacher. They may be skeptical to do that in front of their peers, which is completely understandable. If this is the case, then try to keep the communication open between you and your child so they can feel comfortable to come to you with ideas of how to troubleshoot any issues with their learning and/or IEP needs on their own and/or with your support.
4. Make a plan for success on the next report card. Together with your child, identify areas or subjects that could use improvement. Then create goals and steps to achieve each one along with how you will provide support. Write them down to provide a visual. If there are subjects that are out of your comfort zone or realm of expertise, tell your child and discuss the possibility of getting other support from a tutor, other family member or friend.
5. Communicate and track your child’s progress. If you choose to go to the parent-teacher interview, ask your child for their input and follow up with them about the discussion. Share your child’s goals with their teacher as well. As the new semester progresses, set aside time to check in and have daily discussions with your child. Refrain from asking yes/no questions such as: Do you have homework? Instead ask questions like: What was the best part of your day? What was the hardest thing you had to do today? Can you show me something you learned today? What is something you’re going to review tonight?
6. Keep things light. Try to focus more on progress versus grades this school year. It has been a rough year for everyone, but especially for children. Praise your child when you see them working hard on an assignment, when they ask for help or when they express their frustations and keep going. They are showing grit, determination and expressing their feelings - all traits that are helpful to get through challenging times.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.