Mothering Monday: Report cards

Friday was report card day for my boys.  They all did fine, and basically it was pretty uneventful.  I’m the mom of elementary school age kids, so really how eventful can it / should it be?  I used to be a teacher, and everything we did was ultimately about the grade – grades were important.  But as a mom, I’m finding I don’t really care so much about the grades.  I want my boys to be respectful, to do the work that is asked of them, but if they don’t get all A’s or O’s or 3’s (above grade level) does it really matter?  (Of course several years from now when I’m hoping they get accepted to the college of their choice, I may be singing a different tune…)

In the past year, I’ve taken a slightly different strategy towards their school work.  One day, I read something on a web site that really stuck out to me.  A friend had recommended a discipline method called “Love and Logic” to me.  So I swagbuck searched it.  (Remember I don’t google, I search through Swagbucks so I can earn Amazon gift cards for searching… click on the box below to find out more.)  Anyway, I searched for “Love and Logic” and went to where I found articles on many different topics.  For whatever reason, at the time, I was drawn to the articles about school, homework, and grades.  Something I read, really stuck out to me and since then, I’ve changed how I approach my boys’ work.  (I’m including the article at the end of my post.)

Now, when my boys show me a graded test or paper,  I no longer first look at what they got wrong.  I look at what they got right.  I point out a problem and say something like, “Oh, good job on that question – how did you know the answer?”  I make a big deal about how much they know.  Oftentimes, I don’t say anything about the wrong answers – I figure the teacher is working with them.   But if there are a lot of wrong answers, after I point out what was right, I might say something like, “It looks like there are several questions that gave you trouble.  Do you understand why they were marked wrong?  Would you like my help on understanding them?”  And if they say they don’t want my help, I say, “OK, just make sure to ask your teacher so you’ll know for next time.”

I’ve decided that academically I want to be their cheerleader on the sidelines doing dances and cheering instead of the coach teaching and training them and yelling at them when they mess up.  And so far, it seems to be working pretty well.  But I’ll humbly admit that I’m saying this while my oldest is only in 5th grade… I realize I may be singing an entirely different tune in a few years!  🙂


Here’s the original article that I read that put my thoughts in motion on this…


By Jim Fay  ©1998 Jim Fay
Permission granted for photocopy reproduction.
Please do not alter or modify contents.
For more information, call the Love and Logic Institute, Inc. at 800-338-4065.

You’re on your way home from work. You’re anxious for some encouraging talk and a little relaxation after a hard day. You need all the support you can get to recharge your batteries and feel strong enough to go back tomorrow and face another working day.

You are greeted with, “Hi, Honey. How was it today? Where are your papers? I want to see how you did all day.” “It was OK,” you reply. “I really don’t want to talk about it. I’m really beat.” “Well, no wonder you don’t want to talk about it. Look at these papers. You can do a lot better than this. Where was your mind today? You sit down right now and we’ll go over these proposals you wrote and get the spelling straightened out. And look at these paragraphs. You’ll never get promoted at this rate. I don’t understand this. You have so much more potential than this.”

How long would it be before you find a more comfortable place to go after work? “Who needs this?” you’ll say.”I can find someone who can show me a little more appreciation for my hard work!”

Many school–age children face this same situation daily. They are greeted after school with, “What did you learn today?” and “Where is your homework? You get on it right now!”

Children are also requested to bring home their papers so that the mistakes can be corrected. Even though this is done with love and caring, it trains them to focus on their weaknesses.

The problem faced by students is that they can’t choose to go somewhere else after school. They can’t avoid facing a replay of their daily failures. They must return home and listen to whatever their parents have to say. It is very difficult for a child to say,”Mother! Do you realize you are training me to keep my school progress a secret from you?” Soon they quit bringing home papers. They make excuses and blame it on their teachers. “She never gives me my papers to bring home.”

The next step is for the parent to go to school demanding that the teacher develop some sort of foolproof reporting method. Teachers are actually faced with writing daily and weekly reports for parents. This never provides a long-term solution because it addresses the wrong problem. It also robs teachers of valuable teaching and preparation time.

The real problem is that the child has learned that it is unsafe to discuss school with his or her parents. Rather than developing a reporting plan, it is much wiser to work on the real problem–helping children and parents learn to talk to each other in safe and supportive ways. This solution works, and it lasts a lifetime.

You can teach your child to discuss school with you. While you are doing this, you can also lay the foundation blocks that will build a true winner out of your youngster.

STEP ONE: Sit down with your children two to three times per week. Have them point out the best things they did on their papers.

STEP TWO: Make sure your child describes to you the reasons for his or her success. As they put these into words, the reasons for the success will be imprinted on their brain, never to be erased. They will start to believe they are in control of their success.

STEP THREE: Work with your children on their mistakes only when they ask for your help. Let the school work on deficiencies. Teachers have training to help with the deficiencies in effective ways.

STEP FOUR: Be patient. This is a real change in operation. It will take the child a period of time to believe that this is not just a new phase his parents are going through. Look for the real benefits to show up in several months or maybe during the next few years, depending upon the child’s past history.

Winners always think about how they are going to succeed. Losers always think about their possible failures.


4 thoughts on “Mothering Monday: Report cards

  1. I love #2. I think #1 should recommend more frequent “sit down”s with your child. #4–Patience is always necessary (& too short in supply, if I’m speaking for myself). #3 I don’t agree with, although I think I get the tenderness behind the suggestion. I don’t think most professional teachers (even if they received “special training” at one time) have the extra time, concern, energy, but mostly time to deal effectively with deficiencies. They certainly don’t know or love your child as much as you do. I believe the key is in #2, & not allowing our children’s “deficiencies” define them or define us, as parents. But we are always teachers of our children. Thanks for sharing the article, Becki.

    1. Jenn, I completely agree. I have been able to “follow” #3 because my boys don’t really have academic struggles – their errors are more “mistakes” rather than lack of knowledge or understanding. If they were really struggling academically, I think I would need to make sure they were getting extra help, whether from me or from someone else.

  2. Hey look at that, I’m all caught up! Mid-November is when we start to get busy at work and this year it was worse than ever! But I love your transparency and inspiration so much that when I do get behind I just leave your blog open and keep going backwards when time permits until I get to one I read before.

Leave a Reply to Becki Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.