Today's blog is part two of what I started last Monday called An Educational Opportunity. Basically, I said to use some of the time off with your kids to gain an educational edge. I also talked about interpreting grades beyond the letter (A-B-C-D-F) If you haven't seen it already, I'd encourage you to look at it. The goal is for you, the parent, to look beyond your child's grade and concentrate on the intricacies. What makes his/her grades so high or low? What could have been done better? A specific way for me to explain this is to focus on my three year old, Luke.
Luke is one happy and fun loving kid. He's the child you may find in the grocery store hollering, "Merry Christmas" to everyone he passes. Another example of his spirit could be found at Christmas Mass. He was a bit slow in his responses (understandably) and when the congregation said, "Amen," he would holler it a second too late. People would turn and laugh which was a bit embarrassing; but funny as well.
The main problem with Luke is he has a speech delay and was recently tested for a second time. My wife and I found out he scored on the bottom side of the normal spectrum. At first glance, that may seem pretty disappointing, right?
For those of you who have regularly seen this blog, you know about my oldest child's educational achievements. Details can be found on earlier blogs (October15th and October-18th editions) but he has tested in the top 1% nationally in reading and math. One may think I may be disappointed Luke is not following in the footsteps of his brother. One may also think my prior education blogs may not be as valid because I can't produce the same result with a different kid thus far. But wait. Before making any assumptions, did you remember my advice of looking beyond the initial grade? Of course you did and that's why you'll keep reading!
Here's more of the story. Luke had fluid in his ears for what could have been months. Lauren and I didn't take him to the doctor because we didn't know it existed. He didn't get ear aches like his brother so there was not a reason to be alarmed. If it would have been treated, the speech problems would have been much less severe.
The first time Luke took the speech test, he was so low, he couldn't even complete it. To go from that to the bottom side of normal was a huge leap. Obviously, I'm very excited about the results. I'm also extremely confident in my abilities to teach and I feel Luke and I are off to the races (educationally speaking).
Because this blog is partially meant to teach, let's attempt to apply Luke's circumstances to your kids. When your child receives a grade in any subject, knowing the back story is as important as the grade. Let's say, for example, your child went from a "B" last year in math to a "C" on their last report card. The key to helping as a parent is to pinpoint the subtle changes. Were his/her study habits different? Was there something taught last year that wasn't retained in your child's mind this year? If I asked, could you adequately explain the problems to a simple guy like me?
Now, let's flip the scenario. Let's say your kid went from a (C+) to an (A-). The same basic rules apply. Pinpoint the positive changes and capitalize on the success. Did your child study harder? Did you give them more of your time/encouragement? Did the teacher have a positive impact? What were the factors of change? Image via Wikipedia
I certainly can't go over all the grading scenarios in education. But, as a former teacher, I know this. The grade in any class should stem from an overall body of work. There are reasons some children succeed and others don't do as well. When you find and attack those reasons, you should expect better report cards.
On a side note, if your kid is already doing exceedingly well, why not challenge the teacher to provide more difficult material? True learning only occurs when additional knowledge is gathered and retained by the student. In other words, it's possible for a kid to get an "A" in a class and not learn much.
If you enjoyed The Bottom Side of Normal, please consider sending it to a parent who would enjoy it. That gesture would mean so much to me. To those of you who have ever passed along my material, thank you!
This Wednesday, I am back with a behavior blog. The title will be Sowing Seeds. It's a tactic I've used for years with good results. Can't wait to tell you all about it.