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Why I Don't Let My Kids Read Their Report Cards

As soon as my kids get home from school with their report cards, I take them away. I may have a conversation with them about their experiences throughout the school term or the new friends they made but that is just about it. If I am to probe further about their school, I will perhaps ask about their favorite teachers and the subjects they like and do not like.

Of course, I want to find out all the challenges they had in every subject and the reasons the teacher gave whatever feedback they did, but I choose to skip all that. We live in a world where everything is all about competition and we want our own to be ahead, but that can be very destructive especially when it comes to raising our kids.

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Once the kids go to bed, I open each report card and go through them on my own keenly checking every grade and taking note of the comments the teachers have made. I may or may not agree with some of the comments, especially the negative ones, so where I strongly disagree, I make a point of discussing my concerns with the specific teacher. Once I am done, I put the cards away and at no point do I discuss the contents of the report card with the kids for a number of reasons.

First, the comments on the report card are meant for the parent, not the kid. If you are keen enough when reading them, they do not directly address the child they address you as the parent. The teachers write these reports to help you gain a better understanding of what your kid is going through in school and in a particular subject. The teachers do so because they know the value of a parent getting involved in his or her child's school life, and they know parents can help their kids and even guide them better than anyone else can. Kids are also likely to listen to their parents more than a teacher they are not so close with. Therefore, once a teacher and guardian understand one another, they can offer proper guidance to the child to help improve his or her grades.

Young mother scolding her son in the corridor for bad behaviour in nursery
Credit: iStock

Secondly, kids are naturally curious which means that they love to learn, whether deliberately or otherwise. They soak in new things like a sponge in water, and this is so beautiful. However, if a parent points out to them that they are not doing a very good job at gathering knowledge in class, they become aware that learning is a chore and can choose to react in either of these two ways. They can decide to work hard so that they do not disappoint their parents or do so only to get validation from their caregivers. On the other hand, some can get demotivated to the extent that they stop caring completely about their performance in school or be too worried about their failure that it affects their concentration in class.

Thirdly, it is possible that the child will have failed in one or more areas in school, and we all know that failure can dampen a child’s self-esteem and make him or her feel like a loser. These feelings hinder their ability to participate in class and school generally. If your child is feeling as if he or she is just failing in school, you should look for a way to help him or her know for sure that he or she is not a failure. I am not saying that you should ignore their poor performance, but together with the teacher, parents can identify problem areas and come up with possible solutions to assist a struggling child. Over praising kids and rewarding them for good grades is also not healthy. Again, they will only want to achieve good grades for validation.

Lastly, kids are competitive. You will always hear them asking one another about how many A’s they each got. Those who perform well end up intimidating those who did not. At some point, of course, it is necessary to discuss your child’s performance with them. However, until they can understand what learning and failing are, as well as how to set goals for themselves, then there are so many other important things kids can pick at school. More importantly, kids should be left to be kids and enjoy their childhood as much as possible, once they are older and can understand the whole concept of grading then parents can begin having tougher conversations with them.

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