How to Handle a Bad Report Card

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The exam results are in!

Your child brings home a bad report card. Your first instinct may be to punish him in order to make him raise his marks. However, will that really solve the problem? We know from research in the workplace, that punishment never solves motivation or performance problems, so why would it work for children?  What can do you do to encourage him instead?  It’s good to keep in mind that a report card is only one “view” of your child. It’s a picture to report to parents what the child is like in school. However, he is a multifaceted learner with strengths and room for improvement in all areas of his life, just as anybody is.  Think of your child’s performance like a three legged stool.  All three legs are required for the stool to function and all perspectives can give an accurate assessment of the child as a learner.

One leg of the stool is from the teacher who is gives an academic skills report. This report should include information on how the child is doing learning subject matter in the four cores of math, language arts, science, social studies, and options. Schools like to report on character and other things that are not academic, but they only see the child participating in an institutional setting with many peers. The teacher does not see the child at home, or “outside of school” social situations.

The other leg is the parent who also gives a report card on two of the most important learning’s: life skills and people skills. The parent can present the report card to the child at any given time. Life skills include chores, money management, organization skills, problem-solving, initiative, responsibilities, health and wellbeing maintenance, and volunteer commitment.  In other words – all the skills that parents witness at home. People skills include sharing, sibling conflict resolution, attitude, listening, assertiveness, and politeness, emotional intelligence at home and out in social situations. Most people with academic and technical brilliance lose their jobs not because of inefficiency in that area, but because of lack of people and life skills.  These are the some of the most important skills to develop.  These skills can be learned and practiced by all children.  Not all children can get an “A” in math, but all children can learn to be polite and organized.

The final leg of the three legged stool is the child. He can self-evaluate and give himself a report card on all three components – Academic skills, life skills and people skills.  This is the most important evaluation and parents and teachers can ask how they can support growth and success for the child in all these areas.

Finally, the parent, teacher and child should discuss where the strengths are and room-for-improvement and come to an agreement on how to go about setting improvement in place.

Education is a journey, and is not a race. The letter or number grade does not indicate learning or self- awareness.  In fact, when children only chase a grade, they can be more prone to cheating and learn nothing.  We learn the best when we fail or make mistakes which over insight and reflection, give us ideas for change. When children make mistakes, ask them “what did you learn from this?”  The ability to self-evaluate, and find motivation to start again is the real learning and the upmost key to success. The Winklevoss twins learned more about life and resilience in their court battle with Facebook, than all those academic years at Harvard.

Parents, de-emphasize the numbers. As a society, we tend to treasure what we measure, but learning can’t be denigrated to a number.  Most of what we do in life that really counts; love, help, volunteering, life learning, and kindness can’t be evaluated by a number, but can be observed, noticed and appreciated.

No one is perfect and we all have room for improvement. Your job as parents is to figure out with your child, how can you pick him up, dust him off and support him moving forward?

Judy Arnall is a non-punitive parenting and education expert.  jarnall@shaw.ca

http://www.professionalparenting.ca

Learn more about Multiple Intelligences – Every Child is Gifted!

 

How to Help Soothe a Crying Baby

 

 

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My 2 month-old won’t stop crying. What can I do?

Brain development stage: Even though it doesn’t seem like so at the time, this crying stage passes very quickly. It’s very normal for baby to cry at 2 months and this is the peak. From 4 to 5 months of age, baby’s crying time decreases immensely.

Suggestions:

  • Offer food first. Even if you’ve heard that babies should eat every 1.5 to 2.5 hours, perhaps she is going through a growth spurt and needs to “cluster” feed for several days. She should be feeding 12-14 times per day. You can’t overfeed a baby. She will turn her head away from breast or bottle and not suck.
  • Check for illness next. As you get to know your baby, you will have intimate knowledge when things are not normal for her. Trust your “gut feeling” if you think she is sick or something is seriously wrong. Call your local baby advice line or take her to the hospital emergency.
  • Check her diaper. A heavily wet or poopy diaper won’t bother some babies, but will irritate others.
  • Check for gas. Try carrying baby with your forearm around her tummy and gently rub her back. Or lie her down on your forearm with your inside elbow supporting her head and your hand supporting her pelvis. Gently rub her back with your other hand.
  • Check for prickly tags on clothing and hairs or threads wrapped around toes, wrists, fingers or neck. Baby may be in pain from some kind of irritant.
  • Check if baby is too hot/too cold. Baby should wear the same amount of clothing layers that you do.
  • Check if baby needs more sleep. Some babies wake up and seem fussy. Try not to disturb her and encourage her to go back to sleep.
  • Motion really calms fussy babies. Walk, dance, sway, or rock her. Go for a walk in the car or stroller.
  • White noise from a fan, ticking clock, aquarium, vacuum or dishwasher can help too. Buy a white noise machine that will play white noise or nature sounds, or use a phone app.
  • Carry your baby in a sling, snugli, or similar carrier. Studies done in cultures where babies are constantly carried, show that babies cry very little. Warmth, touch and motion works magic for babies because they simulate life in the womb.
  • Wrap baby in a blanket heated from the dryer. Then rock her in a rocking chair.
  • Music or yourself humming, or shhhhhing may help calm the baby.
  • Sway your baby while standing up or sitting on an exercise ball.
  • Put baby in the swing.
  • Run the dishwasher, vacuum or washer near your baby’s seat.
  • Go for a car ride. Keep a pillow in the back seat so when baby is asleep and car is parked, have a bit of a nap yourself.
  • Try a baby massage.
  • Hold her using the tummy hold. It applies a bit of pressure on her tummy to help releive gas.
  • Bicycle her legs so that gas can move out.
  • Distract your baby with a bath.
  • Swaddle baby. Flinging arms and legs can upset some babies. Others like loose clothing that allows movement of arms and legs.
  • Babies that are over-stimulated from too much activities can be soothed by a dark, quiet room with gentle rocking.
  • Go for a walk outside.
  • If your baby’s doctor diagnoses colic, or you have a fussy baby, get support systems in place for you and baby. Know your limits. If you start feeling helpless, frustrated, and angry because baby is still screaming, hand her over to partner, or a friend or relative that can give you a break. Make a list of her likes and dislikes to post on the fridge. If no one is around, make a safe choice and put the baby down in the crib while you take some deep breaths and calm down. It’s okay to take a breather, even if baby is screaming.