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What is the Main Purpose of a School Progress Report?

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Reviewing a child's progress report can cause a parent's chest to puff with pride or collapse with worry. Focus on the journey over the destination.

The Journey

It’s about that time of year — the time when progress reports are sent home. Looking through a child's grades can cause one’s chest to puff with pride or collapse with worry. Grades are important, for sure. They offer a sort of universal benchmark that allows us to gauge a child's readiness for the “next thing.” However, focusing on them without also taking into consideration all the actions taken along the way to achieve these grades … well, I believe that is a mistake. I am a firm believer in “journey over destination” -- figuratively and literally.

Over the summer, I joined a group of friends for the 24 mile Grand Canyon rim to rim hike. Finishing that hike was an incredibly welcome rush (especially considering I felt like I was dying by the end!). But when I recount the story, it’s not finishing that I talk about. What I most remember is how the camaraderie of our group grew exponentially as the day went on and the hike got harder. I remember taking long moments to breathe in the truly awesome beauty surrounding me. I very vividly remember the important lessons I learned about the type of hydration and nutrition needed for such a long hot hike.Receiving a progress report is a bit like finishing that hike — we’re so eager for the end! But even more important than the results on that piece of paper are the lessons learned along the way. Progress reports are an opportunity to reflect with your child (and your child’s teacher) on the behaviors and the habits that led to those marks.

Stop to Smell the Roses

A few things to consider when reviewing grades.

  1. What preceded them? If it's the first set of progress reports for the year, for example, then more basic and average scores might be quite normal. These scores mark the starting point for where your child is performing and set the benchmark for improvement throughout the year.

  2. What celebrations are behind each score? Take the time to ask your child what they're proud of from the marking period. What did they do to earn a particular grade? How can they emulate the same type of actions and behaviors in the future for a subject maybe they didn't score as well in?

  3. What brings them pride? #2 is trickier with smaller children. As a parent of a preschooler, it makes more sense to ask your child’s teacher any questions you have about the progress report than to ask your child. However, asking your child what they're proud of on a daily basis is a great way for you both to get in the habit of looking at actions and choices made and discussing the results they bring.

With Your Child

Here’s a creative way to consider how actions can result in various results. Try doing this activity together!

Categories: parenting resources, academics

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