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Reporting Grades on a Report Card Isn’t the Single Best Metric to Judge Students Development

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

I recently enrolled my eldest in the Kumon program to help him develop his self-learning and study skills. Even being an educator, I believed that this would inevitably save him from his detrimental 2020-2021 schooling year whereby he had to switch to a split class midway through. With the distraction of COVID-19, having to not only transition multiple times but quickly adapt to a new learning environment as well, it wasn’t his best academic year.

He is the sweetest, most EQ-developed child, but similar to most boys of his age, he prefers fun and engaging activities over writing and rote mathematics. So, I thought a structured program might be the “Rx — prescription” for this predicament. Because as parents, we see a “problem” and automatically jump to solution mode thinking that there’s an immediate “fix”. However, this regimented learning brought on a nightly fight to complete work. I wanted an improvement in his report card BUT his report was completely acceptable - with just a couple of areas to focus on.

I believe this is the issue with many parents. We often tend to think of report cards and grades as a measure of intelligence, development, and academic performance. While these are good metrics to assess how well students are doing against standard benchmarks of behavior and performance, they are not an indicator of intelligence or intrinsic worth.

Howard Gardner & The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The truth is cognitive intelligence has always been used, to some extent, to determine student success. That being said, Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University has led the discovery of a theory of multiple intelligences. His theory explains that “we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences - the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.”

While some kids are able to learn more effectively in a linguistically-based environment that entails reading and writing, others learn better with mathematical logic-based teachings. Still, there are some children who benefit most from body-kinesthetic activities where they get to employ their senses (doing by hands).

Each child possesses these intelligences, albeit in varying degrees. In this context, metrics like grading schemes and report cards cannot accurately convey your child’s efforts, level of growth, and achievements whether it be in assignments, classes, or the semester in general.

What Should You Focus on As a Parent?

Given the unique challenges wrought by COVID-19 and the shift in the educational paradigm, as parents, we should be more focused on our children’s ability to adapt to changes such as online learning.

We should also pay attention to the efforts they put forth and the level of enthusiasm they show in different subjects. Expanding their multiple intelligences is another relevant point of interest and reflection, this involves learning about topics not covered in school, developing their emotional intelligence through the connections they make and the activities they enjoy, teaching them the importance of responsibility, decision-making, and taking accountability for their actions, in addition to encouraging them to take initiative and to be more open to learning opportunities, even or especially if they are challenging. Financial literacy is also an essential life skill since financial habits, attitudes, and norms begin to develop at a very young age.

While there are many types of intelligence to acknowledge and consider when it comes to teaching children vital concepts that they need to succeed in life, it is worth mentioning that more conventional ways of learning, like afterschool activities and tutoring sessions, are still important and do play a key role in your child’s perspective of the world and their understanding of it.

Perseverance, focus, discipline, and work ethic -among other skills, will carry your children forward in their education, even when report card grades aren’t perfect.

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