Responding to Pandemic Report Cards
This post is an excerpt of mine from a February 2021 BACKYARD CAMP issue/email newsletter! You must check out this Canadian website for families. I’ve copied some information below about the creative, fun, and smart activities and challenges they share for parents to keep their kids busy, active, and learning.
Here’s what I contributed to the early February 2021 issue:
HOW TO RESPOND TO
PANDEMIC SCHOOL REPORT CARDS
We’re at the mid-school-year mark, so your kids’ report cards are likely coming home soon. Are you ready?
Even in a regular year, school reports can cause tension in families — add in the impact of COVID, and you can expect that tension to increase.
Teachers share what’s happened so far in the school year in progress reports: a child’s transition to the classroom and grade, curriculum covered, learning skills development, academic progress, and next steps for improvement. For some parents, it’s a time to celebrate strong efforts; for others, disappointment about aspects of their child’s performance and behaviour.
With that, here are a few suggestions about how to prepare for your child’s school reports amid the pandemic:
Set realistic expectations:
This is a tough year, for obvious reasons. Students are dealing with many challenges, and with respect to school, it’s “all vegetables and no dessert” to quote psychologist Dr. Lisa D’Amour. All the fun stuff about school isn’t happening right now, and there’s a ton of other stresses on kids. Be realistic.
There’s more than one way to assess your child’s progress:
Remember that teachers use a variety of assessment methods when measuring student progress. Many of these methods are observation-based. Remote learning (and limited in-person activities last fall) may prevent teachers from getting a full picture of your child’s progress and abilities. Kids may not come close to fulfilling their potential, thanks to all the masks, screens, and social distancing rules. All of these things can get in the way of kids really showing what they’re capable of.
Smart kid, wrong context:
Consider that your child may not demonstrate their skills development in the assessment and evaluation methods available and used.
Report card reaction: first, take a deep breath:
When you open your child’s report card and read it, pause, then breathe. Don’t “freak out” or punish your child. Again, remember the current learning conditions are less than ideal. Instead, start a conversation with your child, and begin with the positives. Take note of the good comments and grades. Talk about the entire report: the good and bad, however, try to focus on your child’s efforts, instead of results or outcomes.
Reach Out To The Teacher:
Book an interview and include your child in the meeting. Together, prepare discussion topics and questions for the interview. Get your kid ready to do lots of talking (this is the best chance to practice how to self-advocate!). Going forward, keep communication lines open with your child and their teacher, about school activities, expectations, hopes, and goals.
Focus on solutions:
Help your child set new goals. Make a plan for the remainder of the year. Hire a tutor, if needed. Don’t be afraid to outsource! Oftentimes it’s more effective to hire someone else to help when kids are struggling.
Finally, Accentuate The Positive:
Reflect on how well things are going under the circumstances, during the pandemic. Start and end your conversation with your child with aspects of their education that are going well.
Let’s put an asterisk beside this academic year, and give everyone involved a bit of a break—students, teachers and parents alike. Celebrate the wins, however small they may be and acknowledge how well your family members are coping during these very strange times.
More about Backyard Camp:
Backyard Camp offers a free and paid email newsletter for parents and caregivers who would like help programming their child’s play activities. Unlike the various blogs that list many ideas for parents, Backyard Camp’s uniqueness is in the specificity and detail of its programming. Our newsletter is personalized to the needs of each family’s circumstances, meaning the content received will be tailored for factors like the child’s age, activity preferences (e.g. crafts, sports), number of children and if they’re living in a house or building.
The content is provided by a range of contributors, from teachers to experienced camp counsellors. They’ve also partnered with existing programs, to share their expertise with the broader community and contribute to helping parents.
For many more tips, grab a copy of Launch Your Kid: How to Promote Your Child’s Academic & Personal Success (without being a helicopter parent)