Opinion: Tips on handling a “not great” school progress report from QWERTY Education Services

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on October 15, 2013

October signals the time of the school year when we gird for an onslaught of tutoring referrals for our Menlo Park QWERTY office. Why?  If you’re a parent of a school-aged child, you already know the answer. First quarter progress reports are typically issued this month and, prompting some families to seek tutoring services.

It can be a time of stress and argumentativeness, but it doesn’t have to be.  We’d like to share with you some tips for approaching your student when his/her grades turn out to not be what everyone was hoping for.

  1. Bite your tongue.  Resist the urge to comment either positively or negatively. Ask what (s)he thinks of the Progress Report.
  2. Give praise for the positives (s)he mentions. Rather than saying how proud you are, tell her/him that you know (s)he must feel proud of that.
  3. Give praise for his/her acknowledgement of the negatives.  If you feel there are more negatives than (s)he is acknowledging, don’t tell him/her.  Ask him/her how much of a concern is to him/her. You don’t have to convince him/her that you are right at the moment, but you need to have your concerns heard. (S)He may be more receptive to actually acknowledging your concern when it is not immediately on the spot.
  4. Ask the following and write down his/her responses for each class:
  • What grade would you like to get by the end of the report period?
  • What do you have to do in this class to achieve that?  This may be different for each class, or if satisfied with the current grade, the answer might be, “Just keep doing what you are doing.”
  • More study for tests?  (Longer?  More frequent?  Start earlier?)
  • Better note taking in class?
  • Recording assignments in a more organized way?
  • Seek teacher help?
  • Find a study partner?
  • Get a tutor?
  • Set a regular homework time?
  • Obtain an extra copy of the textbook so you have it at both mom’s and dad’s house?
  • Use the school’s online grade monitoring system more regularly?
  • More parental involvement?
  • Less parental involvement? (If that’s what (s)he wants, see the next point . . .)
  • What evidence can your child offer you so that you can feel comfortable that (s)he can actually do better with less parental involvement?  That might be showing you daily work with the understanding thatyou will not critique it daily.  It might be more frequent checks using the school’s online grade checking tools.  For some, it might be a note that you prepared saying, “All work is up to date” that you ask him/her to have his teacher sign off on weekly.

These tips should help to keep tempers from flaring and even more importantly, create a team-like environment that remind your child that you are on his/her side. They also present your child with an opportunity for growth and ownership of school performance.  Got any tips you’d like to share?

Author’s note: Michael Perez is Director of Qwerty Education Services in Menlo Park. 

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