Rabbi Ross. I just found out from one of the teachers, that my daughter is failing the 3rd term on her report card. Obviously, I’m quite frustrated that the school told me about this with only a few days left, but it is what it is. My questions are as follows. Should I make an issue out of it now? Should I just let it slide? I’m scared it will ruin her summer if I bring it up. Maybe I should bring it up at the beginning of the next school year (she’s going into 7th grade next year). This way, she’ll be serious about 7th grade. What do you think? B.R. – Cedarhurst
I’m a bit confused how you can go a full term and not know that your daughter is failing. Did she bring home any tests over the past few months? Has she been doing homework?
Although many children are responsible about their assignments and classwork, it’s always important to keep in touch with the teachers and the school. It doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence, but your children should always know that you’re on top of them.
However, if this is the first time the school or teacher has contacted you, they are certainly at fault as well. If a child is not doing well, the parents must be notified as soon as possible so that, together with the teacher(s), they can rectify the situation. Waiting until the end of a marking period is irresponsible and wrong. I would definitely call this teacher up, and ask her why she chose to wait until the end of the term to notify you.
In any case, your question is missing a lot of information. Is she failing everything? Hebrew subjects? English subjects? Is she aware that she’s failing? Being that I’m missing all of this information, let’s try and figure this out by analyzing the pros and cons of confronting the problem.
What is there to gain by bringing the grades up right away?
It seems that bringing it up immediately is the only logical course of action. You mentioned that you would want to bring it up before the next year begins so that “she’ll be serious about 7th grade.” I’m not sure why you can’t do both. Bring it up immediately, and then, before beginning 7th grade, remind her how each new year is an opportunity to start fresh.
There was one phrase in your question that really got me thinking. You mentioned that you were, “scared it would ruin her summer”. This is something I hear quite often these days. Parents are scared to disappoint, or “tell off”, their children. However, there is nothing wrong with a child being upset or disappointed once in a while. If she failed a class, she should be upset.
Initially, she might be angry at you for bringing it up, or at her teacher for failing her. As time passes, she will begin to take responsibility for her own actions (or inactions). In the meanwhile, you can consider it a growing experience.
I want to end off by sharing a really odd, but related, story that happened to me a few weeks ago. A parent called me regarding his son’s baseball team. Apparently, they lost a game that the father felt was unfair. He was upset that his son was frustrated. His exact words were, “I don’t want my son to ever be frustrated.” I was floored. There is nothing wrong with kids being disappointed, frustrated or upset. It’s actually good for children to experience different emotions and to learn how to channel those feelings positively.
Tell your daughter that you’re disappointed in her. Let her be upset for a while. Let the school know you’re confused why you weren’t informed earlier. Be more on top of your children’s grades. Last but certainly not least, have a great Shabbos.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.