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Appropriate Expectations

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Report cards came home today. Third grade is the first level to use letter grades and Beernut is in the 3rd grade this year. So I was understandably anxious as I slid the report card out of its manilla envelope.

His grades were fine. Good, I suppose, by most standards. Here’s the thing: what should be the standards for this particular child? How do I know whether my expectations accurately reflect his abilities?

My instincts tell me that this kid is an A student. And an A did appear. The B’s were paired with an S for effort — leaving me with the impression that his teacher would agree with my instinct.

I know what it’s like to be an academic disappointment. Scads of report comments (“Frummie is a bright girl, but isn’t living up to her potential” or “Frummie is a careless student” and so forth) would attest to my lackluster record. It has taken me years to work through the nagging sense of mediocraty. I don’t want my son to have the same self-doubts.

Poppyseed, as a Kindergartner, received her very first report card. I sat her down to review it and explained that there were two possible effort markings.

FS: “Poppyseed, you can get either an S (“using great effort”) or N (“needs to work a little harder”).”

Poppyseed: “I choose S.”


FS, leaning in for a hug: “Poppyseed, you’re growing up too fast. Please slow down.”

PS: “Oh Mommy, I’m not in control of that.”

I know, Poppyseed. Nor am I.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Thursday, 18 December 2008 1:15 pm

    you’re such a wise mommy. i find it so hard not to put my own expectations/desires right on top of my kiddos….it’s a definite parenting challenge:-)

  2. Thursday, 18 December 2008 2:10 pm

    If you want to know what you can appropriately expect from your son, the best course of action would be to speak with his teachers (current and former). They are probably the best judges of his innate academic ability.
    And kudos to you for boosting your kids’ self esteem!

  3. Thursday, 18 December 2008 4:28 pm

    Mothers and daughters! I know my own daughter has done and continues to do a great job of raising me. I have no doubt yours will do so too.

  4. Monday, 29 December 2008 2:03 pm

    I don’t like those options. What if you are using just a regular amount of effort? That should be satisfactory. In fact, I would argue that S would be for using a satisfactory amount of effort or, since it’s basically pass or fail here, at least a satisfactory effort.

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