Bad Report Card
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.
6/22/2017 07:26:49 pm
"I really can't think of any" That's funny. Great article.
6/22/2017 08:04:00 pm
Wonderfully written. Why are we so protective over our children's emotions?
6/22/2017 08:08:36 pm
You made many great points here. I want to elaborate a bit more about the end of the article. It's not only wrong to protect children from specific emotions, it's actually harmful. They will experience these emotions in life, and if they don't know how to deal with it, it can have adverse effects.
6/22/2017 08:18:37 pm
As a parent and a teacher, I loved everything about your response. Thank you!
6/22/2017 08:31:39 pm
That story you mentioned is frightening. New age parents are clueless. They try raising their children vicariously, and it end up coming back to bite them. Scary.
6/22/2017 08:42:38 pm
I have so much to add to this article. Firstly, it's not really the schools problem if a child is failing, it's the teachers. The parents certainly are at fault.
6/22/2017 08:48:58 pm
What a great email! I truly enjoyed. I would like to make on Heoroh. The teacher that didn't make the call certainly dropped the ball, but not because she didn't notify the mom. It's because she wasn't in constant contact with parents. How difficult is it to call parents every few weeks?
6/22/2017 08:57:06 pm
Very well said. Parents need to be vigilant about their children's school work.
6/22/2017 09:11:04 pm
Couldn't have said it better myself! Well written and fun to read.
6/22/2017 10:43:12 pm
This was fabulous! These emails usually are, but something about this one really struck home. Thanks!
6/22/2017 11:02:02 pm
Here's my 2 cents. The reason why parents want to keep their children away from frustration, is because they want to be better at parenting than their own parents. It's a sickness I've noticed. So many kids think they'll do a better job. Once they grow older, it'll dawn on them that their parents were pretty amazing. Rabbi, I hate reading stuff online, but I make an exception for your stuff. Most of it is pretty good.
6/22/2017 11:26:17 pm
Some? I always enjoy your comments. I also hate reading things online, so I print it. Try that.
6/22/2017 11:29:59 pm
Did you mean to leave in the statement I really can't think of any? It really cracked me up, because I couldn't either think of one good reason to wait. You have way too much fun writing these articles.
6/23/2017 07:53:05 am
Another tidbit worth mentioning. Once a week we have Shabbos. Ask your kids how they are doing in school. Get details. It's a great way to keep up.
6/25/2017 09:32:41 am
I agreed with just about everything you said. Parents are so afraid to parent and disappoint their children. In this case, I blame the teacher simply because they are the only one in that class that knows what's going on. If they are not reporting that the student is failing (which could be indicative of either an educational disability or an emotional issue) how are the parents supposed to gauge? When you ask your children they will say everything is fine and not show you the tests. The parents will then assume everything's fine since there have been no complaints. This is a situation of a teacher not caring enough to help a child succeed. Unfortunately, there are many teachers that take it personally when a child does poorly in their class, feeling the child is doing it "on purpose".
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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.