Monday, September 19, 2011

Just how "active" should an Active Parent be when it comes to school?

I wonder about this a lot so I'll set it up for you and I'm curious to know what other parents think.

First of all, I'm really happy with my kids' school and all of the teachers they've had so far. I really trust the teachers because I can see how well my kids are doing and how much they like their teachers. Plus I've volunteered my time in the classroom as well as being a room parent for Holden last year and now Lucas this year. So I also get to see first-hand how things are going.

This is the first year that Holden as a 3rd grader is actually being graded on an A-F scale and not just S/U. I've found myself paying even more attention to every single grade he brings home on every assignment and test. He's received mostly A's with just one B+ here or there so he seems to be doing just fine. But Friday he brought home his first C+.

The assignment called for them to put together a flip book that they had to cut out, listing 5 keywords with definitions of each. They also had to draw pictures for each. Holden only drew 1 picture (a very elaborate one) and his teacher wrote "C+ pictures?" - so because he didn't draw 4 of the pictures, he got a C+. I asked Holden what happened and he said he didn't have time to finish. Of course I had a million questions some of which I asked and some I kept to myself... Why didn't you have time? Were you messing around? Did everyone else finish? How much time did you have? Is a C+ grade appropriate for only a few pictures missing? Did it take longer because he spent too much time on his drawing?

It may seem like not that big of a deal, but I want to make sure my son is getting a fair grade and that he has enough time to complete his work. AND I want to know if he's distracted or bored or doing something else when he should be working. Holden doesn't offer up much information as he's like his dad... forgets things as soon as they happen if he doesn't think they should take up brain space.

If it's just the first time, would you contact the teacher and ask her about it? Or just leave it alone unless it happens again? My first instinct is to ask her. What harm could it do to ask?

But then I step back and think, well maybe I'm being too anal and Holden will be okay. It only happened once and I've told him he needs to concentrate and finish his work. Plus, I want to trust that his teacher is fair and doing what she thinks is best without questioning her every move.

It probably sounds anal me even asking but I just want to know what you would do.


  1. My thought: If there were 5 keywords, that would make the keyword itself, the definition and the picture of each, worth 6.667 points and give him a score of 73, plus a nudge for the elaborate get him to the C+?

    I would use it as a lesson in time management - if he's got a limited time, he can do the "bones" of the assignment, then, as he gets the basics down, he can re-evaluate what time he has left and add the extras - like a more elaborate picture.

    ...but I say this as I surf the web instead of working on my own mammoth report that is due tomorrow at 9am, a habit that got started somewhere about elementary school. ;)

  2. I have wondered the same thing. I have friends who have email contact with their kids' teachers and email them about every little thing. I do not have direct email access to the teachers, so asking involves a little more direct questioning, which I tend to be shy at. Honestly, I wish I had the email address to hide behind sometimes. But since Loudoun is still only in 2nd grade, I haven't pushed this yet...but I have wondered. I'll be curious to see what comments you get. :)

  3. You're not being anal, you're just a good parent. I probably wouldn't contact the teacher the first time. If something like that happened again, I'd probably email her and ask if my kid is having trouble for any of the reasons you mentioned (time, playing around, etc).

  4. maren has already brought home some "f's" and "d's". i freaked at 1st. but then over time (because i see her grades every day, the teacher emails them to me) i noticed that an "f" meant that she only got 1.5 out of 3 on this particular piece of work, or something like that. and i'll talk to her about it. and she is allowed to make up any work (not tests of course) for extra credit if the grade is not satisfactory. but the 1st time it happened i did email the teacher to see what maren could do better. and the teacher told me not to worry, that she was excelling in school and doing very well. and now that the quarter is almost over, her grades and assignments have all averaged out to 5 A's and 2 B's - I can live with that. There are the occasional assignments she didn't do as well on, but the overall pictures is totally fine. but just like you, i freaked when i saw those first failing letter grades come home! it's a wake up call! but i don't want maren to stress too much either over every single grade and become highly anxious. it's a balancing act. i would say watchfulness and talking with them when you notice something amiss, but overall just being supportive and high-fiving them for all the good grades is the best path!

  5. I would question it. If he is an A/B student, shoot the teacher an email and see if she thinks its something you should address. I mean what if he IS bored? What if he is "too smart" and this work isnt challenging him so he just isnt doing it? Or what if someone is distracting him. I think it's worth asking about!

  6. I'd totally contact the teacher. I know Dan communicates a lot with some parents and sometimes its annoying but he always emails them back the same night. Overall I dont think he minds it, and it's his job. There's only one way to find out if you should be doing more or something differently and that's by asking.
    Growing up my parents were not involved with teachers at all. I was always just told that they expected straight A's. So it made me be the kind of person that was all up my teacher's business. In college always attending office hours. So idk I think you know what's best for your boys already.

  7. It's normal to try to step in and I'm not there yet with my kids but I think I would be just like you and question the best way to handle the situation. Then I think back to when I was a kid and my memory of how my parents handled it. They didn't talk to the teacher unless it was lower than a C but if there was a C my mom would discuss what happened with me (with whys...lots of whys) and eventually it is a matter of following instructions and allotting the time to complete those instructions. They'd only step in if things were unreasonable. I wish I could protect them all the time. When I see kids on the playground not interacting with him even though he's calling them friends...but I know I can't do it all them time if I really want him to learn how to handle himself. So after all that I think you probably already talk to yourself and Hubby about it and made the right decision for you all.

  8. I remembered how my parents would always make a big deal over a C or B grade and how irrelevant it is in the big picture.

    I hate how this teacher is measuring quantity over quality. Why do you want 5 crappy pictures? I bet Michaelangelo spent almost his whole life on his masterpieces. You should tell the teacher that and that Holden's creative genius should not have time constraints.