Teens Are More Than Their Grades

“What makes a child gifted and talented may not alway be good grades in school, but in a different way of looking at the world and learning.”

This quote was taken from Chuck Grassley who makes a great point that shouldn’t just be taken lightly. As the school year ends and reports and rewards are given out I want you to consider this quote if you have a child that may not receive any awards or recognition.

As a former classroom teacher, I can say with confidence that students’ grades don’t always tell the full story of the child’s academic achievement. There are cases when students are not great test takers or they are just average academically. These particular students may excel in other areas such as technology, physical sports, and even the arts.

The unfortunate part about this is we are living in a society that has seemed to get rid of technical skills. Students are pushed into getting whimsical degrees and studying trendy theories, but we forget about the technical skills that could also present opportunities for children who may not go the traditional route.

What can we do as parents if we have a teen who is struggling in school?

Here are a few tips I can give to help reframe the way we view “bad grades”.

  1. Is the bad grade a reflection of a poor study habits? In some cases it’s not that the student doesn’t understand the material, it’s their actual lack of effort.
  2. Focus on having a growth mindset. View grades as feedback to highlight your mastery and also point out areas where improvements can be made.
  3. Be objective in your feedback as a parent. It can be easy to praise your child for being “smart”, but instead focus on how well they mastered the material.
  4. Separate the grade from the child. the grade is not a reflection of who they are as a person.

Just as in life, there will be instances where you have children that excel academically naturally. They may not have to study hard and still achieve high grades. Then you have students who study hard and at best achieve a “C”. In both scenarios, as parents, the grades should be measurements of mastery of the subject area. Determine with your teen what grade is an ideal number to determine what mastery looks like. Is it 75%, 80%, etc. That way should grades fall below that it can be reframed as an area for improvement, not a failing child.

There is a direct correlation between grades and a teen’s self-esteem. When they are excelling they feel great, and on the opposite when they are doing badly they tend to feel not good enough. I hope this article helps spark the conversation on how we as parents look at grades as measures of our children’s success. We want them to be academically well-rounded, but we also want to ensure that we are developing their characters. Seeing failures as learning opportunities help strengthen their resiliency to life’s challenges.

Please feel free to let me know in the comments, do you have a “straight A student” or do you have a student that struggles academically or an “average Joe” student? Do you have a combination if you’re a mom of multiple?

-Written by S. Arellano

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