Do Your Kids Worry about Grades?


Do your kids worry about school work and grades?  What an awful thing to worry about – don’t you agree.  Children should not worry about school work, especially kids in elementary school.  Children should put forth a good effort and not worry about the grade. I like to tell my kids, if you did your best, then I am happy. You can’t control how the teacher will grade your work. But if you tried and learned what you were supposed to learn, then you got nothing to worry about.

Worry popped up the other night at our house. My nine year it seems had logged, according to her calculations, about 35 hours of reading time last week. Clearly this isn’t accurate and Dad questioned her about where she got her numbers.  Her efforts were made in good faith, as inaccurate as they were, so she became very worried.

I explained the concept of worry to my little girl. I tell her it is Ok to worry, but only a little bit. Worrying a lot really does not fix anything, and what it really does is make you feel much, much worse. I told her to think of worry as a little red flag. It is a little red flag that tells you that you need to check on something. For example, if I am expecting my husband home by 6:00, and it’s now 6:45, I am going to worry. Red flag goes up, time to check in to make sure everything is Ok. If she feels worried about what her teacher might think, she only needs to check in with her. It took a few minutes for this message to sink in, but eventually she realized that continuing to worry really only did make her feel worse. Once she realized that if she planned on checking in with her teacher in the morning, she could stop worrying about it now.

It’s not much different at the 7th grade level. My daughter tries hard at math but some misunderstood concept lead to a 37 on her first math test. For years I have told her that I don’t worry about grades, more important is that she understand the concepts. And clearly she had missed the concept. Sadly some parents will punish kids for bad grades when in reality, they should punish the lack of effort, if that was the cause. But in this case, I knew she had tried, and I could see why she was confused. She did not fear telling me the about the poor grade, and I wasn’t upset. Instead we visited Kahn Acadmey (I highly recommend this free website for learning middle and high school math) Later we learned many of the kids made similar grades tale-telling of the new teacher’s inexperience at explaining an easily confused concept.

Tell your kids not worry, especially about grades. Teach your kids to put forth the effort to learn and the grades will come. Encourage effort and focus less on the result.  Use grades as an indicator of how accurate the information was learned and how much effort was put in. If you worry about grades, your kids will learn to worry too. And worrying about grades doesn’t improve them, if anything it will only makes things worse.

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