How to handle a ‘poor’ report card

Tips for helping your children when they’re struggling to get good grades


It’s that time of the school year again – report card time. While many students come home with good grades, others would rather stuff their report cards deep into their backpacks. As a parent, you want your child to do well in school. So, what do you do when your child’s report card doesn’t reflect his or her academic potential? 

Children get frustrated and upset when their report cards show that they’re not reaching their potential. Understanding your child’s personal ability and determining if your expectations are too high will allow both you and your child to set appropriate goals for each class before report cards are distributed again. It will also help establish an environment in which your child is not apprehensive about sharing his or her report card with you. 

Consider the following tips on how to deal with a “poor” report card:


  1. Set expectations.  Not every child will earn all As, but that doesn’t mean your child should strive for less. Talk with your child before the school year starts and explain that you won’t be upset if he/she doesn’t bring home all As, but that you will be upset if he doesn’t try his hardest and doesn’t ask for help.


  1. Communicate with your child.  Don’t wait until report cards are issued to talk with your child about school and grades. Talk with him/her every night and every week about homework. Ask how he/she is doing in school and what subjects he/she finds challenging.    


  1. Discuss your child’s performance with his/her teacher and/or guidance counselor.  Your child’s teacher and/or guidance counselor are the best sources for information about your child’s scholastic performance. Your child’s teacher can recommend ways to help your child or point out difficulties he/she is having. His guidance counselor can provide progress reports between report cards or help set up additional parent-teacher conferences when necessary.   


  1. Set goals for improvement with your child. If your child is currently a C student, then setting a goal of getting all As may not be reasonable. However, creating an improvement goal for each subject will help him/her work toward an attainable level for each class. 


  1. Establish a personalized study plan with your child. Your child should keep a schedule of all classes, assignments and key dates (e.g., project deadlines, big exams, etc). As part of that schedule, he/she should include specific time for studying, projects and extracurricular activities. The more comprehensive the schedule, the more efficient your child will be in completing his/her homework and the better he/she will do in school.   


  1. Seek outside help. Some children may need additional attention that can’t be provided in school. Speak with your child’s teacher about tutoring or supplemental education providers to help your child work toward better grades in school.


  1. Praise your child’s successes. Praise your child for what he/she is doing well, whether it’s a specific academic subject or an extracurricular activity. If your child is not doing well in English, but loves to read the latest “Twilight” book, show him/her the connection between the two. 


Paige Howell is the owner of the Sylvan Learning franchise in Ponte Vedra Beach.