Checking Your Student’s Grades – When Is Enough Enough?

Checking Your Student’s Grades – When Is Enough Enough?

Checking Your Student’s Grades – When Is Enough Enough?

SOS4Students Best Practices for Grade CheckingIf you check your teen’s grades daily and have an anxiety attack every time the school sends a notification, perhaps it’s time to shut your grade-driven angst down.

Grade Stressing Behavior SOS4Students Sees
  1. Students constantly checking their grades and emailing teachers about why an assignment is showing as zero when: “I definitely turned that in.”
  2. Parents texting students during the day about their grades: “Maybe you should check with the teacher and go over your test grades…” (Yep, I’ve done this, and I’m not proud of it.)
  3. Seeing missing work on grade notifications and immediately wanting to “have a talk” with the student. This causes excess student worry because their parents check grades and grill them incessantly.
  4. Contacting teachers directly about grades: “ Smith? Hi, it’s Joe’s mom. Can you just let me know about that zero on the last ed puzzle? Does Joe need a tutor?”

“But the platforms are there to be used,” you protest.

I hear you!

“And what if Joe isn’t doing well? I should know about that, right, and help him get it together.”

Maybe not, is my short answer; read below for reasons why.

Problems with Grade Checking and Obsessing
  1. Students don’t build executive function skills when parents do all the work of tracking work and advocating for them. The only way for students to learn these skills is by doing.
  2. Parents frequently misread and misunderstand data found in online grade platforms. For example, some teachers are slow in completing grades and fixing work turned in late. Sometimes zeros are placeholders until teachers get to the grading. There is wide variation.
  3. Sometimes students come to depend on parents to remind them to check their work and follow up with teachers. This delays building independence and responsibility.
What Are the Best Practices? What Should You Do?

Don’t text students at school during the day about academics

This means no reminders, no venting, no, “I see that your test grade was a bit low in Bio.” Texting is for logistics only, such as arranging pick up times, appointments, etc.

Coach students to establish a routine to check online for deadlines and overdue work at the same time daily.

Students can use a system of their choice: a planner, an app, or a to-do-list on paper to put together next steps. One of my students calls this invaluable tool her “punch list.” She highlights priorities. The routine must be consistent and the tool easy to use and access. Boost student engagement through choice and opportunities to make decisions about the “how.”

Hold weekly meetings.

Regular meetings with your student can keep everybody’s head is in the game and focused (and keep those phones off!). Discuss what’s coming and when. Get calendars out. Make this an opportunity for a non-confrontational check-in on workload and what needs handling, including going through any overdue work. Get curious, not aggravated. If work is not turned in, ask “What in the way? How can I help?” and “Do you have a plan to fix this?” Avoid questions like, “Why haven’t you taken care of this?” which sounds accusatory and not at all supportive.

Turn off online notifications about grades on your phone.

Automatic notifications are disruptive and can spark unnecessary reactivity in the moment. You don’t need constant reminders.

Prioritize Healthy Learning Approaches

Grades aren’t a reflection of you or your parenting. There are so many possible contributors to grades and they often fluctuate day-to-day. Students want to do well. As parents and educators, it’s our job to help them develop healthy, less stressed ways to handle the ups and downs of grades by modeling this kind of behavior.

Upcoming Workshop for Parents

For more parenting support around communication, join SOS4Students and other parents via Zoom on Sunday, March 17, at 6:30pm Talking to Your Teen: Collaboration vs Collision. This is the third session in our popular Parenting for Independence workshop series. Part two, Partnering with Your Teen’s School: Must Have Tips, takes place on Sunday, February 25. These workshops are for parents searching for concrete solutions and tools to communicate with their overwhelmed teen students, encourage independence, and understand the teen brain.

Got Questions?

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at or call us at (510) 531-4767.

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