How much can we expect of children?
Many families take advantage of school report cards to talk with their children about school. Even if the report card is itself important, it should not be the sole standard to evaluate a child’s academic performance, since every child is different and so are his or her circumstances.
A child’s academic performance is satisfactory when it conforms to his or her intellectual capacity and realised effort. Performance is sufficient when a student’s grade level is “passed” or “progresses adequately”.
Two paradoxical situations may occur. The first one would be that the student passes with a sufficient grade point average, but his or her performance is clearly unsatisfactory because the student could have got a better grade as a result of improving his or her learning capacity according to what was expected. This is the case of gifted students who with explanations and little effort obtain a passing grade. It also depends, however, how demanding the teacher is and if he or she is satisfied with the minimum obtained basic knowledge.
The second situation would be if the student makes a big effort and dedicates many hours to studying but does not achieve a sufficient grade. This depends on whether the student’s studying methods are efficient (or not), whether the student lacks the minimum basic knowledge of a certain subject in order to progress, or whether the teacher is too demanding.
Nevertheless, parents should not value in themselves the grades their children obtain in school because they could be making three mistakes. The first one is to demand of their child less than what he or she is capable of giving, thus fomenting commodity and conformism. By not acquiring the habit of studying, the student is propelled to fail in the future even if now he or she is passing by a margin.
The second one would be to demand of the student more than what he or she is capable of giving. Expecting a high performance from an average student that tries hard to progress could stir a state of anguish and anxiety within the student that could lead to desperation and the explicit refusal to study.
The last mistake would be to demand of all children the same expectations, when in reality each one of them is different. Comparisons between siblings or classmates always produce negative consequences and can lead to jealousy or envy.
Rather than assessing the report card itself, one must consider whether the academic performance that each student achieves is satisfactory with his or her capacity, and most of all, if the student has given his or her maximum effort and dedication to the daily labour of studying.
– ARTURO RAMO