Instruction & Curriculum

A Teacher’s Letter to a Parent: Susie Didn’t Get Straight A’s

By Guest Writer: Nicole H.

So, little Susie didn’t get straight A’s. Well, straight 1’s, because little Susie is too young for letter grades. And you’re bummed. No, you’re mad. You’re thinking she won’t get into a good college. She won’t ever become the doctor you want her to be. Everything is ruined and she is only 5. You are about to march yourself into that teacher’s classroom and tell her exactly why Susie deserved straight 1’s. She is precious and perfect and couldn’t possibly make mistakes. I ask you to slow your roll, mama. Take a breath. You said it yourself, she is only 5.

It isn’t the end of the world. It isn’t even the end of the week. Maybe she doesn’t know all of her ABCs, but she is kind. Isn’t that the more important thing? Don’t you want her to be the one who asks lonely kids to play? The one who hugs her classmate when he falls down and tells him that he will be alright? The one who cleans up the class library simply because it is the right thing to do? That isn’t on a report card, but it is infinitely more important. I promise you her teacher notices and loves her for it, she just can’t fit it in the little box and admin demands data. She nurtures her strengths but also acknowledges her weaknesses and informs you so that you can work as a team.

What do you as the parent by yelling at her teacher will impact her life more than receiving a 2 on a report card. You will teach her that when she doesn’t get her way, yelling is the appropriate response. She learns that bullying someone gets what she wants. Grades you earned don’t mean anything and there is a way to change it. Why do your work? Mom will step in and fix it for you. Until Mom can’t, and then you don’t have the skills to cope. You will teach her that grades are all that matter, and that will morph into the idea that money is all that matters as she gets older.

Instead, let’s praise her for her compassion, her sense of humor, and her creativity. Let’s show her that she’s more than just a number. We will tell her that there are things that she needs to practice, but that we will be there to help her through it. We will show her that hard work and perseverance pay off. Accomplishing things she couldn’t do before will do so much more for her self-esteem than seeing a 1 her mom got her on a piece of paper with no significance to her. The 1 doesn’t mean anything to her unless you make it mean something to her. It shouldn’t. That report card is for you, mama. For our team. It is there to help little Susie; let’s not let it hurt her. Oh, and Harvard isn’t going to check her kindergarten report card. I promise.

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