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How to Talk to Your High Schooler About Grades

Your teen will hear, "These grades count"


Starting in grade 9, grades are part of your teen's permanent academic record.

Your teen's grades will be judged — along with achievement test scores — for college/university admission. As a parent, it's important to help your son or daughter find balance between panicking from stress and beginning to accept individual responsibility for academic performance.

Yes, other aspects of school are important–curiosity, motivation, focus, extracurriculars, social development. But grades are an especially important snapshot of progress, and they're useful as a guide.

Get a FREE Report Card Consultation!
You'll walk away with a clear picture of how Sylvan can help your teen get grades where you want them, feel confident again and get back to when life felt normal.

How to Do a Report Card Review With Your Teen

1. If there was a grade that was lower than expected, make a plan for how to improve it.

What brought down the overall grade? Were there concepts that just stumped him or her? Was it quizzes, tests, homework, class participation? Ask your teen to identify the area that needed the most improvement and to lay out 2-3 ways to turn that around.

2. Empower your teen to advocate for himself/herself.

If your teen can't answer why a grade was lower than expected, let your teen know that he or she needs to go to the teacher during office hours to understand why. (If your teen isn't able to get an appointment with the teacher, that's when you need to get involved.)

3. Set expectations.

Prep him or her for what's coming: "High school is going to get more and more challenging. Let's talk about what to expect for the rest of the year and how you're going to handle it."

4. Focus on whether your teen is mastering fundamentals.

You may want to pay attention to how much time your teen is spending on particular assignments and subjects. If your teen is taking more time than you think it should, it's likely he or she doesn't have the fundamentals down.

5. Let the teacher know if your teen is struggling every night over assignments.

Write a note and let the teacher know, "My teen didn't understand x, y, z. What are our options?" Don't do the homework for your teen. The teacher will never know there's an issue, and you'll unintentionally create bigger struggles for your teen down the line.


Ready to Make the Next Report Card Even Better?

Set your teen up for a high-five worthy report card with these simple tips!

Report Card Tip 1: Organization and Time Management

Show your child how to organize binders, set up assignment calendars and use an academic planner. Kids need to learn organization and time-management skills. Most kids aren't naturally organized, and schools typically don't teach these skills. (Need a little help? For 5 easy-to-use time management and organization tools, download our FREE "Eliminate the Sunday Night Homework Panic" guide.)

Report Card Tip 2: Study Space

Ensure there's a dedicated place for studying. Have your teen find a quiet, uncluttered space in your home where it's more comfortable to do homework and it's a good environment for focusing.

Tip: Have your teen put his/her phone on silent mode so he or she can focus on the task at hand. If there's a true need for your teen to check the phone, set up a time to work, and a break to check the phone.

Report Card Tip 3: Your Teen's Success Team

Attend parent/teacher conferences. Ask: "Do you see any red flags or areas where my teen is struggling?" Gather as much info as you can and discuss your options.

Report Card Tip 4: Raise Your Hand

Ask for help EARLY if you see signs of frustration or struggle. It's much easier to stay on pace with class than to chase to catch up. Remember, skills in high school build upon each other. If you can't help with homework, recommend your teen call a friend from class or schedule time with the teacher before or after school. Of course, Sylvan is here to help support, from homework help, to more intensive help in advanced subjects.)

Bring Out Your Teen's Best in High School
Many kids learn best from an outside expert. (Less frustration for the WHOLE family!)

To chat about how we can help your teen with high school subjects, advanced courses, study skills or tough homework, reach out to your local Sylvan center.

We're here to help.