Exams are over. And the report cards are due home any minute.
I am anxious.
Whenever I share my anxiety with fellow parents about my kids’ grades in school, I usually get one of two reactions. The first is: “Take it easy lah; Grades are not everything.” The second reaction from parents who share similar concerns are more empathetic.
Parents of the first camp are not wrong. The grades that you get in primary school are not going to make a mark or a dent in your life. No one asks what grades you scored at 12 years old when you go for a job interview. No one cares.
1) Kids With Good Grades Have Academic Advantages
But the truth is, in our local education system, the grades that you attain at 12-years-old for PSLE dictate the next phase of your education — secondary school. Unless your child has access into the secondary school via affiliation, DSA or GEP, the competition into esteemed schools is stiff. So here is a good reason to ensure your kids score the best they can to get into the school of their choice.
2) Kids With Good Grades Are Confident Learners
Next, kids who consistently score poorly in primary school sport a lower self-esteem and are therefore less likely to think of themselves as academic mavericks. Unless there is an intervention before they leave school, they will grow into adults who are likely to choose a path where there are NO academics. All the more reason to turn it around for them at a younger age than wait till they are older.
The self-belief that he/she is a poor student at this impressionable age might further cripple any learning potential in the future. Personally, I believe that all kids can be good students with some guidance in study skills and empowered with learning tools. Take my younger child for instance, with some help from me and hubby, and a lot of practice on her part, she went from scoring 81% in her Mathematics (last year) to bringing home 92% in her most recent mid-term exam. All we did was figure out her learning style and tweak her study habits accordingly. You should see the surge of confidence when she brought home her Math paper. [related post: What is your child’s learning style?]
Good teachers who are willing to adapt their teaching style to match their students’ learning style and aptitude make the world of a difference. [related post: teachers who make a difference] Read further in this post how you can help your child in his/her learning journey.
3) Kids With Good Grades Have Less Social Issues
Poor grades can also be a symptom of other reasons like behavioural or social issues like bullying, learning disabilities or difficulties, or perhaps an unfriendly family environment that is affecting the child’s ability to study well. So, before we label the child as a poor student, eliminating some of these elements might help raise the grades.
This post is NOT about breeding star students. It is for parents who want to help their kids rise to the occasion as top students and gain confidence in themselves as learners.
How Can We Help Our Kids
Today’s education standards are MUCH more demanding than they used to be. As a parent, instead of lowering the bar and accepting poorer grades, we can be more helpful to our kids by empowering them with study skills and learning tools like speed reading or memory techniques (eg. mind maps, recall tools).
When my kids bring home poor grades, we investigate the process that led to this outcome. Here are some questions that I will ask them:
- Did they study for it?
- Was the preparation adequate? Did they allocate enough time to prepare for the test?
- If they did not understand the subject tested, what was the missing link?
- Did they not understand the teacher’s lessons?
- If not, what can help boost the learning of the subject? Additional coaching from mom/dad? Tuition?
- What will they do differently to change the outcome?
The last question is really crucial because without any modification of the process, the outcome will remain the same. I have to highlight that you may not get the answers to all the above questions at one sitting. You may have to ask these questions separately at opportune moments. So, be patient. [related post: How to ask the right questions?]
Sometimes, the answer you get from your kids is a frustrating “I don’t know.” From my personal experience, my kids REALLY do not know. This is when you have to rely on your keen observation and investigation skills to figure things out.
- Monitor your child’s learning style and technique. See if you can determine the weakness.
- Talk to the relevant teachers or tutors to figure what is the gap in learning?
- Find out from your child also what he or she feels is stopping him or her from learning? You might be surprised that they know more than you think.
What makes this whole process interesting to me is that as I am figuring out how to help my kids, I hope I am also modeling for them how to solve problems and figure out solutions. This life skill might come in handy when they are teenagers or young adults and less likely to listen to us or enlist our help.
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.