When my mother was growing up she got very good grades. As a child, when we would visit relatives, they would tell us how smart my mother was in school.
But my mother often talked about those grades with a negative twist. Because when she would bring home a report card with mostly A’s and perhaps one or two B’s her father would remark “what is that B doing there?” in a low unhappy voice.
My grandfather had an eighth grade education at best and emigrated from Poland when he was a teenager. And while he did not show it, he wanted the best for his children. He wanted a better life for them. However, he did not know how to treat them.
I have had to catch myself in this cycle on more than one occasion with my two daughters, Charlotte, 10, and Julia, 8. I’ve notice and talk about the occasional C or even D but have given little recognition to rest of the work mostly A’s and B’s.
However, sometimes I feel there needs to be attention drawn to those bad grades, if they keep happening in the same manner or subject to figure out if there is a problem.
For Charlotte, whose teacher I met with recently, I found that she was not doing well in vocabulary and math. Together we honed in on the problem of which, she simply needed to study her words and slow down when solving her math problems.
Charlotte’s grades have always been good. Before she began the full-time talented and gifted program at her school two years ago, school work was a breeze. I never checked her homework, other than to enforce the time set aside to do it.
However, I found after meeting with her teacher, that school work begins to change in fifth grade to prepare for middle and high school. It becomes more demanding and learning everything needed for a test requires old fashion studying. So last night, time was set aside to study. Something she did willingly. My husband and I were pleased she did so. She also got up early on her own to study more this morning.
I am not sure why she was so willing to bring up those grades. I would like to think there is something inside her that wants to do well and our love we express makes her want to please us. We have always made our attitude toward grades clear – we love A’s and B’s, will tolerate a C and will not tolerate D’s and F’s. I do believe it has something to do with her competitive nature. I admit that comes from me.
For Julia problems with certain subjects is not her ability. It is that if a particular subject does not interest her, she will do the least amount to get by with it. If a person spends a couple of days with Julia, they soon conclude her career with be with animals. We have been blessed to have teachers, especially her current one, who can relate everything to her having a career with animals.
And it is a lesson to Julia that sometimes you just got to do something you do not like. That is life.
So my balance with good grades versus the few poor ones is one of balance. I believe that if there is a pattern, then it should be addressed. It is comes down to a two-fold approach saying something like “I love the three A’s and two B’s you got, but I am not happy with the D.” And then it is important to watch that subject to figure how it can be addressed. It is not a matter of scolding, like my grandfather did. It is a matter of helping the child in the process of school and life.