Old Report Card

Report card day shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.

If you, as a parent, have been doing your diligence to stay in touch with the teachers, you know where your kid stands. Your kid has been in the classroom all year, they know where they stand. The marks in a report card should not come as a surprise to anyone involved.

This week’s report cards for Charlie and Zacharie were not shocks. They were what we expected. Perhaps even a little better than what we expected, especially for Charlie.

Sure, Charlie’s only in kindergarten, but there are expectations. The kids learn letters, numbers, some sounds. They learn to sort, and work with others. They tell stories, and work on fine and gross motor skills. There is measurable learning going on that deserves feedback. And, again, we found out Charlie is doing just fine, thank you very much.

His report card was filled with meeting or exceeding expectations. Our little guy, remember he’s just 4 yrs old and in full day kindergarten, he doesn’t turn 5 until January, is right in there with his friends and keeping pace. Redshirting is not necessary for this kid. Awesome.

The arrival of Zacharie’s report card had us more concerned. I’ve already met with the teacher easily a half dozen times to start the year. We’ve traded emails about how to catch Zacharie up from his disastrous grade 1 experience in the public system.

We’ve worked hard on spelling tests with flashcards at home, we’re reading every day, we’re trying to catch him up and it’s a full team effort to get him there. So Zacharie’s report card didn’t show the high numbers that Charlie’s did.

It’s Not Always About The Grade

I quickly scanned the numbers in the columns of Z’s report card. Really, I barely glanced at them. Sure, if a 1 or a 5 showed up, I’d see what it pertained to, but the barrage of two and threes just blurred by. The results weren’t the focus here, the comments were.

In Calgary, report card composition has been a hot button issue. Ridiculous amounts of resources have been spent designing, debating, and redesigning how teachers should communicate to parents and students through report cards. It is another item in a long list of reasons we are glad to be out of the public system. So much of what happens is bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy.

Like I said off the top, what’s in a report card should be of no surprise to anyone. If you’re doing your job, you know how your kid is doing. You know if he’s skating, sliding, or soaring. You know.

So no matter what jargon the report card entails, the next time you see the teacher (likely at the parent/teacher conference), your first question will be “Really, how’s he/she doing? Like, really?”

Take A New Perspective On Report Cards

Zacharie’s trying hard. He’s got a team supporting him and while he’s not totally caught up yet, he’s showing the determination to get there. I’ll be honest, there was a time when I thought he had a learning disability. He was well past 7 and couldn’t really read, and didn’t want to read.

Our fears have been erased. He just needed a teacher that cared. A teacher that wanted to build a plan for him to succeed. The opposite of what we had in the public system. My son needed a teacher that knew what they were doing. We have that now, and Zacharie is gaining on his friends scholastically, and by the end of the year should be nicely nestled in the middle of the pack.

That’s good enough for me. Next year he can work at excelling, this year is all about building a foundation of confidence after a terrible year of neglect. I knew all last year that Z was behind, yet as much as I challenged that teacher on it, she would calm me down saying “he’s at level,” or “he’s doing fine.”

Maybe the requirements in public school are lax compared to the independent system, but my gut told me something was different than what the teacher was saying, so we made the switch of schools. Despite what the report card said, I knew things were not as presented. I knew because I was engaged, because I was paying attention, because I cared.

Report card day shouldn’t be stressful. You should manage your expectations of the day. It’s not all about the score all the time, it’s about the effort they put to get that score and the progress they have made along the way.

On my team, today’s results are A+.

Image via pjern on Flickr

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