Today is Sophie’s first “report card” day. Last year we had progress reports, but this is different. I commented to Tim that this is a big parenting moment. Today is the day we set the tone for how our kids feel about bringing those report cards home. We lay the foundation of “report card reaction” for us and our children.
Looking back, I remember always being a little nervous on report card day. You give your parents an envelope containing all the insights into your school day as noted by your teacher. Try to recall… were you “good” everyday? Did you listen? Did you raise your hand enough, but not too much? Were you polite? Work completed? Completed well? Oh I had some whopper comments come home… particularly I remember grade 6, when Mrs. K. told my parents I made faces at her in the class. Me? Make faces at the teacher? Who would be so foolish as to make faces at the teacher when you have teachers for parents?
I feel like I was lucky to grow up with parents who are teachers. Although I was nervous on report card day, I also knew that my parents had my back. They know me. They know my potential and what I am capable of. If my report card didn’t show an accurate depiction of me, we had discussions. Was it me or was it the teacher? Is it a combination? I know that if I felt it wasn’t entirely me, come parent-teacher interview night my parents would lead a discussion with the teacher to help me.
I remember looking at the letters on my report card NI, S, G and E. Needs Improvement, Satisfactory, Good and Excellent. For those of you that know me, I am an E kind of personality. I would love to get all Es. Did I? No, I am sure of that.
Some of the issue of report cards comes along with our perspective of the word SATISFACTORY. Let’s talk about our perspective. Satisfactory, while good, isn’t excellent, it isn’t over the top and exceeding expectations. Satisfactory is ho hum and just walking the line.
On a logical, dictionary level, it means fulfilling expectations. Without projecting our opinions on to it, satisfactory is good, acceptable and sufficient. This IS a positive word. It means you are doing everything you are expected to do. How much should we be expecting from our children?
I expect that you do your best. Be the best version of yourself in your choices towards other people and in your school work. Try hard. If you can not do it this time, we’ll work TOGETHER and get it – eventually, or maybe next time. You are 6. You are learning something new everyday. You can not always remember everything at once. I expect that you be you. Everyone learns differently and has different strengths.
When that report card gets opened tonight, what I expect from myself is to remember that SATISFACTORY is GOOD. That means that our daughter is meeting the outlined expectations of her classroom and the curriculum. This is good. It is only 10 weeks into the school year, into grade one. Grade One is a stark contrast of kindergarten. The expectations are different, the work is different. If she has already met the expectations – I am proud.
And if she hasn’t? If something needs improvement – that is okay too! We have had ongoing discussions already this year, when things are difficult, that learning is a team sport. We all have to work together, Sophie, parents and teachers, to help her be the best learner she can be. We can not do all the work for her and she can not do all the work without our support.
For weeks, Sophie was not getting her agenda work done. These are the 2 sentences she has to write into her agenda at the end of the day. We talked about agenda writing. We explored, what is the classroom like while you are trying to write? What are your friends who sit near you doing? Can you see the board? Do you need to copy exactly as it is written? Through our conversation we discovered different things. Some friends talk out loud while they write each letter down and others copy quickly and then chat to each other. Sophie is a perfectionist-type. She would try to copy each letter Mme had written, even her style of hand writing. Our plan going forward is to use our ears and write down what we hear. Check back with the white board. Don’t worry about perfect spelling or printing, we’ll practise that separately. Get the two sentences down so we can know what to do at home. I wrote a note to the teacher that outlined the plan. For the last two weeks, Sophie has completed her agenda work everyday. I give her a sticker in her agenda. She is proud of finding a way to get it done. It was new for her to learn to do. We problem solved together as a team.
As a university student, I heard of “two stars and a wish” as a mechanism of feedback for children. Let’s talk about what great things this report card says – these are the stars. Let’s talk about how Mommy and Daddy will help you get on track with the improvements – these are the things we wish we could do better. I also hope to channel some of my parents’ ability to discuss with teachers. If we have questions about learning, here’s hoping at parent-teacher interviews, I can present a pulled-together set of questions.
It is my hope that our report card reaction will be a positive one. I want our kids to want to show us their report card. I want them to feel proud. No matter what letters come home tonight on that paper, we will parent from positivity.