Creating A Positive Attitude About Grades

Aug 10, 2021 | Yukon

A new school year means a fresh start! 

Children and teens often believe grades are a reflection of their self-worth. For students who always have struggled to maintain passing grades and even students that are in gifted or advanced classes, anxiety regarding grades can have negative effects that impact students far beyond the classroom. As parents, we want our children to do well in school. But how can we encourage children to strive for good grades without causing poor self-esteem and anxiety? It's all about setting a positive attitude about grades!


Focus on Mastering Concepts

Many subjects in school will build upon each other, especially for math and even more so as students approach high school. When a student doesn't master a topic, it often causes them to struggle even more later on. But focusing on grades can cause children to take extreme measures to maintain an "A", from copying homework assignments to cheating on exams. In these cases, high grades don't reflect how much a student actually understands the material.


Be Mindful of Your Words

Avoid language that places emphasis on the grade instead of mastery of concepts. This doesn't mean to not celebrate or congratulate, but simply that we need to be more mindful of what we are celebrating. For instance, when a child brings home a high score on a test grade, instead of saying "you're so smart", try something like "wow! It looks like you really understood the material" or "great job! You must have studied hard to do so well." This moves the importance from the grade to the hard work and effort put in to get that grade.


Set Standards for Mastering

Sit down with your child and discuss how grades reflect learning. When a student fails an assignment, did they understand the material? Does making an "A" count as mastery if they didn't truly understand how to solve the problems? If a topic isn't mastered, how can it affect studies later on down the road? The standard for mastery will vary for each child. It's important to set reasonable goals that are achievable and to revisit these goals regularly. No matter what goals you agree upon, be sure to make self-reflection and corrections on homework assignments a regular part of studying.  Remember, never use corrections as a form of punishment. Homework corrections are a way for students to learn and learning should never be a punishment.


When Standards Aren't Met

If your child falls below the standard, take some time with your child to reflect on why. Are they spending enough time studying? Are there gaps that are hindering them from fully understanding what they are doing? Are they struggling to balance school and extra-curricular activities? Do they need extra assistance outside the classroom? Are they understanding the homework assignments but experiencing test anxiety when exams come up? Rather than focusing on simply improving the grade, tackle the root of why they aren't mastering their studies. When students truly understand what they are learning, it will begin to reflect in their grades.


While we always want our children to succeed, we also want to make sure that they understand the importance of learning too. By having a positive attitude towards grades and rewarding hard work, we are setting them on the path to success beyond good grades on a report card. Let's make the 2021-2022 school their best year yet!