Like most parents we find ourselves wondering just how much weight grades have in our child's learning. There is obviously more to learning than just grades, but how important are those grades really? Is my child more than just the sum of those grades or are they really a reflection of how much they learned? Should we get frustrated because our child doesn’t study or work hard enough at school? Is it ok to get angry when we see the 9/20, 54/100, the big dreadful D? Is it fair to be disappointed when we think our child has potential that isn’t being reached?
Some research shows that chasing after perfect grades discourages creativity and ingenuity. Moreover, contrary to what most people think, good grades in school don't always translate into success in life. On the flip side, grades have shown to cause an overwhelming source of anxiety. Test scores and grades can actually elicit the worst emotions in children and teenagers.
Are we more than a grade on a sheet of paper, for one subject, on one given day? We can all answer a resounding yes to that one.
However, grades can be important and it is crucial for students to strive to do their best, all the while understanding that grades shouldn’t consume them; grades don't define who they are; grades are important but they are not everything; grades are one of those markers or metrics to see how they're doing, how they are measuring up in relation to their peers and to their educator's standards.
A test evaluates performance on a given day. Is underperforming and falling behind in grades a real testament of failure? No, it isn't, obviously it isn't it. It can mean several things. It can mean the student was having a real bad day or its head was in the wrong place. It can mean that it misunderstood certain elements, or it can very well mean that the learning was incomplete, that more work needs to be done before moving forward. A contractor would not start laying bricks if the foundation weren’t finished. Well, most of the time, that is what the bad grade means. It is a warning that more learning needs to happen at least on that topic.
How can we encourage kids to work hard and study without scaring them into thinking that tests are indicators of their worth?
What should we NOT do?
We should not focus on grades. You can’t be disappointed when your child scores less than your expectations. Your child needs to manage his/her studying, but we, as parents, need to manage our expectations.
Don’t be angry, don’t nag, don’t pressure, don’t be the reason for your child’s anxiety.
When you do all the above, you attack behaviors that are directly related to your child’s aptitudes, character and interests.
What CAN we do?
We can help them develop passions, true interests and ambitions. We can help them grow as a person and show them how to focus on mental and physical health.
It is important for us to create or maintain a positive environment that is conducive to learning and most important of all, we need to make sure studying is fun and meaningful!!! We take school way too seriously (I apologize to all you teachers!)
In general, we need to stop trying to motivate them. You need to inspire them to motivate themselves. Motivation is external but inspiration comes from within and therefore more powerful!
You can triumph in school and fail in life and you can fail in school but triumph in life. Real life teaches us that making mistakes is how learning is best achieved. Whereas in school, if you make mistakes you won’t get a good grade. It is easy for children to misunderstand the power of learning through mistakes.
More than 60% of children have admitted to cheating on a test in order to get a good grade. No one has ever cheated to learn... What would you rather have in the end, a good grade or a solid learning experience?
Let’s evaluate the following axiom: Go to school, get good grades so you can get a high paying job. What if we changed that to: Go to school, get good knowledge so you can learn how to live a great life.
SO, don’t be attached to your child’s marks or grades. You need to focus on the work and progress. In school grades are finite and specific but education is infinite and always evolving…
Never forget: Grades matter when the subject matters to your child!
I’ll leave you with this: If the grade is the destination, the journey is definitely the learning and you know what they say: It’s not about the destination – It’s all about the journey!