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Should Grades Determine Who Your Child Is?


The education circle is more triangular than circular in the sense that it has the child at the top, the parent to the left of the bottom, then the teacher to the right of the bottom of the triangle. Which invariably means that every party has a role to play in the academic performance of the child.

Often, when a child doesn’t perform well especially after an exam, we as parents would come at him or her with all sorts of advice and statements depicting how disappointed we are. Forgetting that there was a role we may have not played that would’ve resulted in such a performance.

Let’s look at it this way:

Teacher: Each slot on the daily time table is allotted thirty-five (35) minutes. In a classroom, there are all kinds of learners- from fast-paced ones to more time ones. Everyone is expected to be carried along within this time frame. Of course, it’s impossible oftentimes. The teacher always needs to creatively restructure to be able to accommodate these more time learners. Where such learners aren’t taken into consideration, after a class, they don’t understand what was taught but are still given tasks as take home.

Parent- Back at home, the parent gets back tired. Homework is presented. The parent isn’t in the mood to assist because of course he/she is tired from the hectic day’s work. So as that tired parent, we scribble the answers down without attempting to teach the child (who of course doesn’t know how to arrive at the answers) and simply ask them to recopy such ‘pencil scribbled’ answers using their biros. The child, of course, is glad- work made easy. Scribbles as instructed and the next day, submits the Home Work done.

The teacher marks, endorses her signature, imprints the date and goes ahead to the next topic on the scheme of work and the cycle continues.

Continuous Assessment Test time tables are sent out to homes for the children to get set. The child has two evenings at home or at most- Four evenings to be able to revise what the parent didn’t even know the child didn’t understand at first.

Do you think that same parent who would still get back late who couldn’t supervise homework instead of ‘doing’ the homework will be able to sit to revise these topics one after the other? Of course, he may try, but the moment he reaches a road block such as- When he asks a question the child takes time to respond to, we begin to hear things like, “Please take this to your teacher, tell her you don’t understand it. I’ll call her later”. Of course, we often times remember to put a call across to the teacher from work, because the child’s grades are too important to us.

Are these grades truly important? Or is it about YOUR child not being referred to as the ‘dullard’?

What about the child? Should this child matter? Since going through the circle it’s been about the adults (the teacher who doesn’t have enough time and the parent who is tired from work and also doesn’t have enough time) and almost not about the child who is a key figure in the learning triangle.

Why then do we heap blames on them when the results come back not as good as we expect them? Should these children be blamed?

Studies show that our learning environment must consider the physical, cognitive and emotional elements in that environment to optimize outcomes. Meaning- Where the physical and cognitive are considered and the emotional, left to its fate, the child will not provide the outcomes we expect. All elements ought to be balanced. This is often what we do as parents- dump the emotional element of the child.

What then do we do? Research shows that for every achievement made, a hormone, dopamine is released. This hormone creates a sense of pleasure when an achievement is made. Causing the achiever to be motivated to do more. A child who is termed a ‘dullard’ (there’s no dull child) will show low levels of dopamine resulting in little or no motivation to achieve more while a child who is encouraged to perform better or is praised for performing better, will show high levels of the dopamine level resulting in a higher motivation to out perform her previous performance. So what should your attitude to your child’s performance be? Praise efforts first, then later seek ways together on how to produce better outcomes. Allow the child to participate in the remedial discussion because as important as the grades are to you, they even are more important to the child. Every human being needs to feel the sense of accomplishment. It helps build our self-esteem. It’s the same with children too.

Psychologists say, high self esteem leads to high accomplishment!

Build it!

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Professionally and Personally – Daisy brings out the best in others and gives the best she has. By nature, she listens without judgment, sees and nurtures positive perspectives and enables others to do the same for themselves. She readily picks up on opportunities to be playful and creates an energizing chemistry that elicits smiles. Her challenging journey as a parent, guiding four children through their difficult transitions, has proven to be an extremely powerful source of hope, compassion and insight for clients as well as friends.

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