5 Steps to Addressing a Bad Report Card

It’s almost the end of the first quarter.  Your student will be getting the first report card of the semester very soon.  (Or you may already have it!)

Report cards can create a lot of stress for families.  But angry parents and upset students do not solve any problems.  In fact, they could create more.  Yelling and scolding can cause extreme levels of anxiety in both the students and the parents.  It becomes a disastrous, never-ending cycle:



Report card stress is unnecessary and easily avoidable.  If your student brings home a less than anticipated report card this quarter, here are five steps for how to handle it (without stress):


1. Remain calm.

If your daughter brings home a C- in Geometry, the natural instinct is to demand an explanation.  We often raise our voices when we are angry or upset.  It makes us sound more severe and also stresses the importance of the subject.  But the ultimate result of that is further stress.

Take the time to sit down with your student and discuss their report card.  Don’t have the conversation on the fly as you’re running out the door, and don’t discuss it over the phone or by text.  Instead, set aside time and choose a relaxing environment.  It is important that your student understand how important this is to you, too.  Leave your cell phone in the kitchen and don’t turn on the TV.  Give your student your undivided attention.


2. Listen and ask questions.

Solving a problem is a two-way street that requires proper communication.  There is probably an underlying cause as to why your daughter is struggling in class.  Rather than drawing your own conclusions, take the time to listen to your daughter.  Don’t accuse her of doing a poor job.  That will only make her feel worse.  (No doubt she is also upset about her grade.)  Instead ask open-ended questions, such as “How is your relationship with your teacher?” and “What part of the class is the most difficult for you?”


3. Evaluate study habits.

Your daughter’s grade is comprised of more than just test scores.  Typically teachers also factor in participation, quizzes, and homework.  How much time is your daughter spending on her Geometry homework each night?  Does the teacher assign homework and, if so, how much?  Does the homework pertain to what will be on the exam?  Does your daughter take time to study each night or simply cram the night before the exam?  Is this class a priority to her?


4. Talk with the teacher.

Set aside time to talk with your daughter’s teacher about the class.  You may find out that your daughter is staring out the window the whole time or texting her friends.  Or you may discover that she is putting forth a lot of effort and is simple confused.  Many parents assume that low grades means their student is slacking off.  But many students with low grades want to succeed.  They just have not discovered how to do it.  Perhaps the teacher is available after school for tutoring or to answer questions about the homework.  Whatever the case, do your best to keep the teacher as involved as possible.


5. Devise a plan for success.

Now it’s time to work together as a family to help your daughter succeed.  She needs to be an instrumental part of the planning.  Calmly explain to her that her studies need to become a priority.  Establish a place for her to study that is away from distractions, like her phone and the TV.  (Check out your local libraries.)  Work together to decide how often she should be studying and for how long.  (Try working for 50 minutes and then take a quick 10 minute break.)  Make yourselves available if she has questions.  If further assistance is necessary, consider tutoring or extra time after school with the teacher.

Not only does studying need to become a priority for your daughter, but it also has to be a priority to you – her family.  Ask her daily how her class is coming along.  If she shows signs of further stress, re-address the problem and work together to solve it.  Your daughter will take a greater interest if she sees how much it matters to you.  After all, you care for her…and you want to see her succeed.


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About the Author

Dave Hoffman