This week saw my fellow colleagues and I sit down over two nights and discuss with parents their child’s progress and their report. The morning after the first night of interviews, I was sitting in the staff room discussing how the interviews had gone so far. To my amazement, one colleague raised the issue of parents not having shared their child’s report with their child. I found this quite surprising in deed considering the report is about them.
As a mum, I like to read my children’s reports first, quietly on my own, so I can interpret and digest comments and grades before I share the report with my children. I think it is so important that we take the time to share the comments and reports with our children so they too can see where their strengths lie and where they need to improve. Their report should be seen as feedback for students and parents, which then opens up a dialogue between school and home about how to strengthen the strengths and improve the improvements. Sheltering your child from their report doesn’t help them at all. The focus is not on the overall graded mark or progression point, (even though that is the first thing we are all guilty of looking at).
The comments, which should be constructive and purposeful, are what needs to be discussed. It can start a conversation and answer a lot of questions. For example, if your child receives a comment from one teacher that says they are distracting other students, or they can’t concentrate, ask your child why? It may be that they are having trouble in that subject area or may not have a positive relationship with that particular teacher. Knowing that then gives you a starting point to develop change and when interview time comes around, any concerns can be raised with the teacher or teachers. Sharing comments enables students to know what various teachers think of them as a learner and as a person. Often, students can get into their heads for various reasons, that a teacher may not like them for whatever reason. Often if students read positive comments written about them, it can change their perception and attitude.
At what age do you start sharing your child’s school report with them? Obviously, in the early years of Prep through to Grade Two, students won’t be able to read too many of the comments written, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read and share aspects with them. Read the positive comments to them and perhaps share some of the improvements with them so they are aware. For example, “Mrs White says your reading has improved but we have to keep working on your sight words every night.” Putting a positive spin on the improvements motivates students to work towards them and finding different ways to do so is also important. Most primary school reports will have a section that states different ideas to help your child at home. They should be specific to their needs, so following them would be beneficial.
Over the years, I have seen an increasing number of students attending parent/teacher interviews. Some parents want their child to sit in the interview and listen to what is being said. If there are sensitive issues that need discussing, I will most certainly ask students to leave the room. Yet in terms of them hearing that they need to stop distracting others, listen more attentively or put more effort in on a consistent basis, I will say it as I would if it were just the parents in the room. More often than not, the student knows anyway so it isn’t a problem! My philosophy has always been that no parent should receive a shock when they read their child’s report. As a teacher, if I have concerns, I would have called those parents in well before the report was issued.
So if you haven’t shared your child’s report with them or discussed it beyond the notion of it being acceptable, sit down and take the time to discuss it with them. They need to know exactly where they stand and what they can work towards for the remainder of the year. Sheltering our kids does more harm than good at times and they need to learn how to take constructive criticism and compliments!