Tara Kennedy-Kline
Here's the story...

I'm on the phone with one of my friends and we are discussing our children and school (shocked?! I know...)
So she tells me about her child's recent decline in math grades and how it's become pretty steady ever since the last report card. We talk about how this child has been told that the grades are unacceptable and how the child has been given many opportunities to be "quizzed" at home and how they insist the child study every single night and so on...yet the child keeps reacting belligerently and "mouths off" and gets "fresh" when asked to show the work or walk the parents through the problem.

The last straw was a D+ on a test.

At her wits end, my friend told her child they must retake the test and bring home no less than a 96% or the child would have to explain the grade to the father (not a pretty scenario) then the child was sent to their room to STUDY for the test.

OK...I get it. This is a smart kid and failing is just completely out of the realm of acceptability...but insisting on an A when they just brought home a D is not (in my opinion) a reasonable request. It also introduces far too much stress into an already volatile situation which will only serve to degrade the child's self esteem & beliefs and will not get anyone's goals met.

I told my friend that what I believe needs to happen is she and her husband need to find out what is really happening with their child. Obviously, there is a method, formula or process which is not being understood and no level of threatening and studying is going to move this child past their block.

I liken it to handing someone assembly instructions written in a language (let's say Chinese) which is foreign to them and expecting them to complete the project. It wouldn't matter if I handed them an entire book written in Chinese...if they can't read the language, they can't read the language!

Even if I send them to their room to study for an hour and tell them over and over how smart they are that isn't doing them any good either. An hour later when I test them on what they read, they may get a few of the questions right just out of luck...but they still do not UNDERSTAND what they read. It would take a person who understands Chinese to sit with them and teach them the language before they could ace the test.

And that sums up my Mom Reality Bytes #13 for 2012:

When it comes to assisting my kids with dropping grades or failing tests, I must put my emphasis and effort into getting to the root of their misunderstanding (or block)and teach/walk them through it rather than punishing them by forcing them to focus on the things they don't understand.
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