Handling report card news was always a tense time in our house. Sometimes the results were going to be obvious based on behavior and activity I had seen during the quarter. Sometimes he was dancing on the edge and it was more of an unknown. But it might lead to a conversation that neither of us wanted to have.
August was not a great student. Let me rephrase that. He did well early on. Elementary school was good because he enjoyed school and was still interested in learning. There were enough other classes plus recess to provide the variety his ADHD needed to keep him stimulated. But starting with middle school, the wheels fell off. The temptations of cell phones and students who also weren’t interested in school began.
By the time he was into his teenage years he couldn’t care less about the value of an education. And that was reflected in his school work and his attendance at school at all. I was racing the clock to see if I could get him graduated before he turned 18. We tried private school designed for behaviorally challenged students. He got kicked out. He moved with me and enrolled in a new public school. Disaster. The plan was to try the alternative high school but he turned 18 and I’d lost the fight.
He’s had a couple chances during his multiples stints in jail to get his GED but he has yet to agree that getting even his high school diploma would be useful. And that’s now that he will be in the world with so many more strikes against him. Maybe as he matures his opinion will change. I continue to hope.
Now it’s not every child with reactive attachment disorder who has trouble in school. But there is a better than average connection between RAD and school problems. Behavior issues at school and at home will certainly get in the way of successful learning. But how can you help your child make that connection to what shows up on the report card?
Here are a few ideas on how to handle report card news with your RAD kiddo to make it less confrontational.
- Praise the Positives: Find something good wherever you can. If your child is not doing well in core subjects but is great in PE or art, celebrate that! Yes, it would be better if they were getting those good grades in Math and English. But starting with the positive sets a good tone for the rest.
- Make sure it’s a conversation, not a speech: Remember that your RAD kiddo is a control freak? A two-way conversation about the report card will have a much better outcome than you coming at them with, “What happened here!?!” You will certainly learn more and you may learn things you didn’t know (remember, from your great relationship with the teachers we set up at the beginning of the year?)
- Emphasize progress and proficiency, not perfection: If you were a straight A student, good for you. But your child may not ever be. However, if they went from a C- to a C, do a dance!
- Set a meeting with the teacher: If things really seem to have gone off the rails, then you need to hear first-hand what’s going on. And definitely include your child if it is appropriate. Also IEP team and any others that may need to be involved. Make sure your RAD kiddo knows that it’s not because they’ve done anything wrong but because you want to make sure everything is being done to make sure they’re able to be as successful as possible.
I think report cards are a great time to take a breath and reset the education clock. When the days are crazy and it’s hard to keep track of how things are going this will give you both a chance to talk and celebrate and make plans. So make sure there’s the celebration part! To help with that, here are some great ideas!
Until next time,