There is a certain hush that seems to spread throughout the house when a child brings home his/her report card. Parents wait in anticipation to see how their child has done. Children anxiously await the reaction of their parents when the report card is placed in their hands. How a parent handles this time is important to the progress of the child.

As important as report cards may be, it is probably more important that a child learn to do self-evaluation continually. Both parents and children need to be realistic in expectations of a child’s performance. The outcome of time spent with children should result in goal-setting for the child.

A child should be given an opportunity to tell a parent whether he/she believes a report card adequately shows his/her performance. Before a parent gives in to the natural tendency to start lecturing the child if the grades are not up to expectations, the child needs to have time to express thoughts and opinions. It is often surprising to hear a child honestly “fess up” to needs for improvement. If the child can see what is needed, that child is much more apt to perform accordingly. Simply telling a child what to do is much less of a guarantee for change. Questions from parents work much better in stimulating thinking than do statements of fact. Parents’ opinions often “go in one ear and out the other." If the child comes up with an idea, that spurs a different result.

Realistic expectations of both parents and children are so very important. It is a mistake for parents to expect children to make perfect grades all the time. Not all children are able to do so and even if they are very capable, inevitably something can happen to influence a grade such as personality of a teacher, sickness, etc. Parents need to be satisfied in simply knowing that the child has worked up to potential. Comparisons with other children should be avoided. It is harmful to expect more from a child than the child is able to do. Doing so causes a child to feel inferior and quite often causes a child to lose hope and give up.

Parents can be most useful in helping a child set achievable goals. If the goals are too difficult to reach, the child will give up before getting started. Both short term and long term goals are helpful. It is doubtful that a “C” student will become an “A” student overnight. Children learn best in “chunks." Breaking down goals in chunks means to take a little bit at a time to concentrate on for improvement.

A child’s attitude toward learning is so very important. If parents can help the child to believe that improvement is possible, that child will more than likely improve. In the final analysis, a child will perform as he/she wants to perform and is able to do so. All growth has to come from within, not from without. When that report card is placed in the hand of a loving mom and dad, a child needs to feel support and love, not condemnation. The parents’ job is to instill in the child the desire to perform at maximum potential.