Ask the Teacher

My fourth grade son was surprised and upset that he did not get straight A’s for the last quarter of the year. How can I help him understand what goes into determining his final grades?

Begin by showing your son how all of his assignments, projects, quizzes and tests were averaged together to get the number that became his grade. Spend some time substituting other numbers, both higher and lower, to show how this impacts a final mark. Direct his attention to what a missing assignment or a low test score can do to a quarterly grade.

Of greater importance is helping your child look at the trends in his grades. What were his strengths and weaknesses in various areas? Perhaps his homework was turned in on time, but his quiz grades tended to be low. Maybe he understood overall concepts but didn’t want to be bothered with homework, yet still got solid test grades.

The essential take-away from your discussion should be that your son understands that grades are something he earns, not something the teacher “gives.” He must feel a sense of ownership about his schoolwork. Discuss what he can do differently next year to get the grades he wants. Empower him by talking about his personal responsibility to make improvements. Work with your son to create a list of specific steps to make the changes he desires for next year.

When school starts up again, revisit the list. Remind him of his goal regarding his desire for better grades throughout the quarter, rather than just when report cards are issued.

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