5 Tips on How to React to a Bad Report Card

Receiving report cards is among the most dreaded events for a parent. Here are 5 tips on how to handle a bad report card!

Receiving report cards is among the most dreaded events for a parent of an elementary school pupil. By the third grade, descriptive, encouraging report cards are replaced by cold, graded cards that often send parents in disarray.

Although report cards are merely meant to provide data so you can react and improve your kid’s development, it is often difficult to hold your frustration hidden when a bad grade taints an otherwise excellent report card. So here are a few tips on how to react to a bad report card.

Find Positives First

Reading report cards is now stressful just for you. Kids are the ones being watched and judged, so they are in a difficult situation as well. To make things a bit more comfortable, find the positive surprises first. Acknowledge the A in math, praise your kid’s cooperation in class, and tap them on the back for good attendance. This will not only relax the room but also put you in a different mindset, where you can put things in perspective. After all, if you can find three positives in a report card, surely not everything is bad, right?

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Try to Understand Your Kid

Usually, our first reaction to a poor grade is criticism. But think about what you want to achieve before talking. Criticizing your kid will only make them less open to talking about the grades and what is happening in the school. Instead, try to ask them why the grade is bad. Were they affected by something? Bullied by a peer? Did they understand the topics the teacher explained? There are always reasons behind a bad grade. Criticizing your kid without understanding them will make you the bad guy.

If your kid has several poor grades, the problem usually isn’t in a single subject, but something bigger that is happening in your kid’s life. Is everything ok at home? Is everything ok in school? Try to find what the reason behind the poor performance is. Research shows there are several factors that can affect your kid’s academic performance.

Meet With the Teacher

Try to get as much feedback as possible. Perhaps the teacher’s comments on a report card or the grades do not make a lot of sense to you. Try getting additional explanations from the teacher. You might find the solution is simpler than you thought or the grade isn’t actually representative as the test was taken in a period when your kid couldn’t excel because of external factors.

Even if the problems are more severe, try talking to your teacher so together you can find a way to improve your kid’s learning development.

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Prepare a New Strategy

If you find your kid has a problem with one of the subjects, try finding alternative ways of teaching them or put extra effort into that subject. Review the class materials with your kid, find creative ways of explaining the subject, and generally try to find a way for your kid to understand the subject better.

For example: For kids who have difficulties learning to read, we have created Dyslexic Creativity Books™. These are books that improve perceived reading ability, motivating your kid to read more. With practice kid’s reading improves, leading to improved grades. You can do that for any subject.

Remember, if your kid “failed” a subject, it doesn’t mean they are a failure, it just means they found a way of learning that doesn’t work. All it takes to improve that is to find a new way that will work better.

Set Goals

Some kids are straight-A students. Others lack a natural interest in math but excel in other subjects. Perhaps your kid is doing well in the art class or has a music talent. Trying to make your kid perfect at everything will only put a strain on their development. Try to nurture their talents instead. Make sure they are not failing classes, but maybe put more emphasis on things and subjects they like. It is ok for a kid to have a goal of getting a C in math, but excelling in the art class.


The best thing you can do is to provide a safe environment for your kid. That makes children open up as they feel like they can talk to you without being judged or criticized. Talking makes you understand the problem, and gives you the ability to find a solution. So creating a safe, positive, nurturing environment gives your kid the foundation on which they can build and thrive in the future.

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