Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

You are more than your grades

When I was younger (much), I attended an elementary school where we did not receive report cards. Tests were graded, of course, and every student had a fairly good idea of how they measured up academically but no one was reduced to a grade and no one knew exactly where they ranked. A lot of parents were and are uncomfortable with the prospect of no report cards. I'm not. I think that grades are just one part of the story of "Child as Student" and only a very tiny part of the story of "Child as Person".  It's hard to convince your kids they are not defined by their grades when their grades are staring them in the face. It's challenging to tell them that grades aren't everything when both you and they jump for joy at every A. I worry that I sometimes send a conflicting message because I do not get angry or upset by low grades and may appear laid back about school performance when, in reality, I am well aware of the competition that lies ahead and want to be sure our kids are always doing the very best that they can. That's the key, isn't it - the very best possible. The letters on a report card tell me a story about how well our children understand material they learn or how well they take tests. If someone receives a low grade, we can dig a little deeper to figure out if there is something going on. It should offer some guidance into what the student may need to review or how. I don't want to hear any of my children apologizing if they do not get an A. What I want to hear is the figurative grunt of a good day's work. I want each of our daughters to understand the importance of putting her best foot forward every time she goes out. If that foot steps in a puddle, so be it - dry off and pay closer attention next time.

Since our oldest daughter brought home the masterpiece known as Frindle home several years ago, I have been a huge fan of author Andrew Clements (who, incidentally, has recently agreed to present an award at the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards and I'm so excited that I'll be meeting him in May). He's one of those awesome young-middle grade authors who has a book for everything and they all extol the power of children to make a difference. Pick up a copy of The Report Card by Andrew Clements, illustrated by the amazing Brian Selznick, and you (and your child, duh!) will not be disappointed.

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