Report card anxiety -Tips and advice by Principal of Abbotts College Rondebosch, Ivan Horn
REPORT CARD ANXIETY: HOW TO CONSTRUCTIVELY DEAL WITH PERFORMANCE CONCERNS
As we close off the first term of the year, students and teachers alike are looking forward to a well-deserved break. Unfortunately, this time may also come with a lot of feelings of anxiety over report cards and, more specifically, a student’s performance.
However the report card at the end of Term 1 should rather be viewed as a wonderful opportunity to take stock of where your child is at. This information in return can be used to as the baseline for setting realistic goals for Term 2 and the rest of the academic year.
Students may dread report cards and parents may be disappointed, frustrated and even angry with the lack of progress at times. However, the way in which a parent responds to a report card can have a profound impact on the child’s mental health, self-esteem, confidence and motivation, and any response should therefore be well-considered and calm.
I would like to share some tips that you as parent can follow to reduce Report Card Stress:
- Seek to understand the Report Card and what it is telling you. Pay attention to any additional information provided. In our case at Abbotts College, students receive an effort rating for each subject along with their subject mark. If the grades are below expectation, but the teacher communicates that your child is making a real effort, then there will be academic improvement over time.
- Contact the subject teacher to discuss the progress and to gain further insight. Subject teachers spend a lot of time observing your child’s focus, behaviour and approach to the subject.
- Attend Parent-Teacher Meetings, but also feel free to get in touch whenever the need may arise.
- Put the results in context. Praise the good results and understand that in some learning areas, it may require more patience for continuous development.
- Talk it over with your child, but make sure you listen more than you talk. Their feedback is essential.
- Take action where necessary. The relevant Grade Head, Deputy Principal (Head of Academics), or subject teachers are all available and can offer expert intervention strategies. Should your child’s school have a College counsellor, as we have, they will also be a great resource to you and your child.
Then, if academic improvement is required, you can start by looking at your child’s routine and programme. Making changes to small things can yield big results, for instance:
- Limiting screen time and/or removing distractions.
- Checking your child’s organisational skills.
- Providing a quiet study environment.
- Establishing homework times and a routine.
- Celebrating accomplishments, even the small ones.
- Setting realistic short-term and long-term goals.
- Emphasising that your child’s social life should fit into their study schedule – not the other way around – especially during examination time and the periods leading up to assessments.
Should you see that your child is exhibiting signs of anxiety around their results, help them deal with it by:
- Preparing thoroughly, avoiding procrastination and consulting with a teacher for help – ask questions in class and take advantage of homework consultation. In the Abbotts College system you can, for instance, also call teachers after school hours.
- Reminding them that grades are important, but that it’s also important to keep a perspective on things and not get despondent.
- Helping them draw up and stick to a study schedule.
- Reminding them to take short breaks.
- Assisting them to think positively.
One of the many pillars we pride ourselves on as Abbotts College is our 7 Mark Reading report cards. We issue two report cards per term which removes the long wait from one term to the next. Moreover, if two reports are submitted to parents, it gives parents and teachers an opportunity to create a short-term intervention which would benefit our students. With this approach, students can continuously engage with their teachers on ways to improve their weaker areas.
In addition, although academic excellence and academic improvement are not mutually exclusive at Abbotts College, we pay particular attention to incremental academic improvement. Subject teachers and mentor teachers guide and support our students in delving and attaining their full potential.