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Take the Surprise out of Report Cards

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Report cards from the first quarter are arriving home, so I thought it might be a good time to review some things your family can do to avoid the surprise in the mail.One of the greatest academic frustrations we face with our kids is seeing that report card with “fails to turn in homework” marked as the reason for a low grade. It’s frustrating because we know our children can do better. It’s frustrating because we know that homework is often “automatic credit.” And it’s frustrating because our students have assured as all along that they have completed the assignments or have none. Short of escorting them to school and speaking with the teachers daily, what can be done?

Here are some sure-fire suggestions:

Never ask, “Do you have homework?” It’s too easy to say “No” or “I finished it during class.” There is always homework: studying for upcoming tests, reading for the book report, preparing for long-term projects.

Always establish a set study time that the entire family adheres to. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day (although that is ideal); but it should be written down somewhere, and it should include at least one weekend day. I suggest Sunday afternoon or evening so they get “into the school mode” before Monday morning.

Always trust your instincts. If it seems as if they should be having homework, you’re probably right. Call the teachers.

Always have consequences and rewards. Every student has something he/she would sorely miss if it were denied. Know what that is and use it.

Always have names and numbers of at least 2 students who can be trusted to know what was assigned or can explain difficult material. I call them “study buddies.”

Always follow your student's progress on the school website. You can view grades daily (I recommend once a week, preferably Monday)and see what assignments are missing and what scores are earned. Most teachers also post assignments for your review.

Finally, if the problem persists, get help. You do not have to do this alone. School counselors, other parents, and tutors can help you get your student back on track.