by Frank Schofield, superintendent, Logan City School District
Greetings Cache Valley! We at the Logan City School District hope you are enjoying the transition to cooler weather. For many of us, autumn and winter means parent-teacher conferences and grades. Those grades will often result in a variety of conversations at home as parents work to encourage and support their children. To make those conversations as productive as possible, here are some principles to keep in mind:
- Talk about grades as feedback instead of labels: Instead of labeling a child as an “A” student, discuss the learning the grade reflects. By focusing on the learning that is taking place rather than the grade, you help the child stay focused on the purpose of school. Instead of talking about what can be done to “raise the grade,” talk about what can be done to improve learning. Focusing on learning rather than grades promotes better long-term attitudes about school and less stress related to the potentially overwhelming need to get a specific grade.
- Emphasize the importance of effort and growth: Low grades are not always bad, and high grades should not suggest students have reached the pinnacle of their potential. All children should be engaged in challenging activities that push them to excel. A love for challenges will help students develop academic and behavioral skills that will support their future achievement. In the words of Dr. Carol Dweck, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
- Listen: When you have a discussion with your child about grades, whether high or low, try to spend more time listening than talking. By asking questions that probe your child’s feelings about their grades, school and interests, and then actively listening, you will gain a greater understanding of their needs and how you can best support them as a parent. Children and adolescents don’t respond any better to conversations they perceive as “nagging” than adults do, and listening can help ensure the conversation doesn’t go that direction.
These three simple principles can help any parent make sure conversations about academic achievement remain positive and support ongoing success for their children.