Need Help Putting Son's Grades into Perspective

Updated on February 04, 2012
R.P. asks from Denver, CO
15 answers

My son pretty much got 90% - 100% on every assessment he took in first and second grade. Third grade has been challenging. He gets a lot of A's, but also brings home quite a few B's. My dad always tormented me about grades and I swore I would never do the same to my child. I must admit that I am not happy with the B's if my son if capable of receiving an A. My son has not been crazy about third grade. He went from having teachers who were fun and nurturing to one who is very strict. He has been "off his game" this year in terms of grades and behavior. I told him even if he doesn't like his teacher, he still has to do his best. I guess I'm still trying to decide how to define "best" for my son. The word problems in math are tough (my husband and I even have trouble with them) so I don't get upset with a "B' on the problem solving section of a math test. However, my son has dropped from an "A" to a "B" in social studies. He brought home an 88, and today, an 80. There were 10 questions, and he got 2 wrong. He had the right answers for both of them, but second guessed himself and changed them at the last minute. We have very strict rules about homework time. When we studied for both social studies tests my son did not seem as solid in his knowledge as I would have liked, and he kept getting frustrated that he was having to go over information again and again - maybe he was also frustrated that he wasn't mastering the material as easily as he used to. I tried to make a game out of study time, gave him some break time with a special snack, but he just wanted to be done. He was so upset when I was disappointed with his 80% today, and I feel terrible. I hugged him and told him how much I loved him no matter what his grades were, but that I know he can do better than 80% on a test. I'm also starting to wonder if maybe as the work gets more difficult, our son will be more of a "B" student. If "B" is the best he can do, than I am okay with that grade. I don't want to cause my son to get nervous about tests. Have any of you noticed a drop in your children's grades as the work became harder?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I have a 3rd grader, and the work is definitely more challenging.
My son keeps As and Os with maybe a B here or there...then there's the F on a test once a year out of left field! LOL

Seriously, do you think when he's 25 it's going to matter that he got a B in 3rd grade? Does that put it into perspective?

I'd rather my son GRASP the concepts than test well, right?

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

We're in a similar boat. I think kindergarten, first and even part of second grade are a lot of review, and "easy" stuff for many kids that went to preschool. Then in second grade the pace increases and the kids get introduced to things like multiplication, book reports, etc.

Third grade is definitely a faster pace with a lot more emphasis put on the kids studying, doing homework, keeping track of their homework assignments, etc.

I've had several talks with my daughter's teacher and math teacher. Both have said what an outstanding student she is. So why is she bringing home some Bs was my question...the main answer, learning studying skills, lots to memorize and a much faster pace. She's doing GREAT compared to many of the other kids, but I've definitely seen her get bummed that everything isn't so easy anymore.

Also, in third grade she's busier with extra curricular activities. She's got to balance homework with practices. Projects with games. And then there's birthday parties and sleepovers too.

I think this age is a big stepping stone, both academically and socially. We've been working A LOT with our daughter about study habits - how to balance and prioritize things, how a little reviewing each day really does work better than "cramming" the night before, etc.

Try not to be too disappointed in your son. He's probably already feeling the pressure knowing that he's not bringing home the As. Ask him why? How you can help him. And ask him EVERYDAY what his homework is. Help him and you'll see an improvement.

Best wishes!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Short tests are the HARDEST (excluding total mastery tests, which don't happen until college, and even then... I've only ever had a handful of ###-###-#### question tests, and most mastery tests don't start until gradschool and only in certain disciplines; medschool/ the Bar, etc.).

Think for a moment about what you studied. I'm assuming more than the answers to 10 questions? Maybe 20 or 30 or even 50? But he only got the chance to "show off" the answers for 10. And he had a little self doubt about 2 of them. He could have known all 20/30/40/50... except 2. In a 50 question test... that's an A at 96%!!! In a 5 question test... that's a D at 60%

With a 10 question test, that's a grade level PER question. A 5 Q test is even worse. 2 grades per answer!!!

He only missed 2 qs.

No one does their best all the time. Did you do your BEST in everything today? How about college? Highschool? Middleschool? Elementary?

Or did/ do you have headaches, off days, days you can't concentrate to save your life, days you're sad, days you should really be home sick, days where someone keeps kicking the back of your chair?

Not every test is going to be your best. Not every day is going to be your best.

And it's REALLY HARD to do your best at all when you feel like the teacher hates you (true or untrue, if it FEELS like they hate you, life gets very very hard). I've had crappy professors (I even helped get one fired... another story for another time). As an adult, I KNOW they have no authority over me. Kids don't know that, because it's not true. Teachers have parental authority (aka total) over them for most of the day. A bad teacher can RUIN school for years or for ever, or turn a previously happy hard working kid into a kid who hates themselves. And a teacher can be phenom, but a personality conflict is just as bad.

Kids stuck with a crappy teacher OR a great teacher but major personality conflict need a LOT of support and encouragement.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

The more you focus on it the more it will effect him. I think just being positive for him and stop making the whole evening about his school work might make him a better student. I will not let the kids do horrible but I will also NOT allow the kids lives after school to be dominated by homework. I think that having a child in school for 8 hours per day then sending home school work that takes over 30 minutes is cruel and inhumane. If school was acknowledged as work the kids would have a time limit to the number of hours per day they were allowed to "work", labor laws would apply. I think having time to play and enjoy other activities is just as important and makes them a more rounded person.

Just my opinion, perhaps just letting him do his work and when he makes good grades tell him good job.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

There's one thing I've always told my children, "I'll take a hard C, over an easy A."

If there's honest effort, and willingness to learn, let it go and try to help smooth out the problem spots.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You swore you would never do the same to your child, and here you are doing it. Get off your son's back or his grades will get worse.

Education is the lighting of a fire, not the filling of a bucket. You are starting to squelch his fire. Stop it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

He's in 3rd grade. My daughter's school doesn't even give A-F grades until middle school. Isn't school about learning? At this stage, he is learning how to learn, how to study, the basic concepts of subjects, along with any information he is learning. As far as his success in life, 3rd grade "grades" don't matter. Really they don't. Do college applications ask for elementary school grades? None than I've seen. Be careful that you aren't helping him to learn anxiety, pressure, and a sense of failure... Two wrong on a 3rd grade social studies quiz/test? Talk with him about what he learned from it.

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answers from Dallas on

Take a deep breath and stop. You are doing what you promised you wouldn't. It's not like he's a senior in high school trying to get into college. Of course grades drop when work gets harder. He's learning new things. The last thing you want is for the grades to be more important than the learning. You are not your son. Your son is not you. Enjoying learning is as important if not more important than grades.

Seriously, he's 8 years old and he's beating himself up for not getting "A"s? Please, do what you can to get perspective - get professional help for yourself if it's out of hand. Your dad tormented you and that hurt - your baggage about grades could be too big for you to be able to deal with now that your son is hitting the "real" homework ages.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

3rd grade is different from previous grades. He was learning to read for the past 3 years, now he is reading to learn..

Yes, the teachers are a little tougher, because these kids should ow know how to write, how to read and how to stay focused.. This can be tough for some children that are used to shorter times spent on each subject and more active activities instead of so much sitting.

As long as our child was doing her best and really earning her grade, we were fine. Most times, she is the one that was disappointed in lower grades. And so we just asked.. how could you have made a better grade? How can we help you do better?

She was the one that needed to figure out how to bring up her grades. We did not want to add to her own pressures about grades

Remember he is only 8 or 9. He is only in third grade.. Let him learn because he enjoys it, not just for the grade.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm assuming that most schools are the same, so I will speak from my own experience. I have a third grader as well and the teachers all warned about how third grade would be so hard. That has not been our personal experience.

I see what homework comes home. I check her homework for errors. I let her find her errors and correct them. If there is something she does not understand I will go over it with her. We review what we need to before a test. I see the tests come home within a day or so. I can review her grades online at any time so I know where she stands and there are no surprises come report card time.

With technology I am confused as to why any parent is surprised come report card day. Heck I can see her grade real time anytime. I don't need the paper coming home.

Do I think the work is getting harder? No fortunately but I also feel that I need to keep up and in touch or else I could fall behind at some point.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

In my child's 3rd grade, there were 81 kids, two with all A's. In 4th, there is 1. Many kids' grades dropped in 3rd.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I have always been told (and I agree with it) that there is a HUGE change in school in 3rd grade. It is no longer mixed with learning to socialize and follow rules and acclimate to the environment. The kids are expected to have that all figured out, and the basics of math (adding/subtracting, maybe some multiplication tables) and they are now focused on using that groundwork and going up a notch or three. The kids are expected to learn a lot and USE it independently a lot more than ever before. And often, the teachers attitude changes as well (no longer the nice, friendly welcoming faux-mom. Now they are teachers and expect to TEACH, not coddle).

It is usually a pretty big adjustment for the kids in the first few months of 3rd grade. For your son, it may also be that his teacher is one of the more "strict" and "disciplinarian" types and his style and her style don't work the best together. It doesn't mean she is doing anything wrong, nor does it mean that your son is either. Just that maybe they are less compatible personalities and that might be affecting his participation in class or how he grasps the concepts. IF she is an auditory learner, she is probably also an auditory teacher. If your son learns best kinesthetically (by doing and manipulating things), then he may not learn as well as he would from someone who tends to teach more that way instead of using more auditory methods.
He may also, be a "B" student.

I wouldn't push too much. Some kids really are happy to get B's and not fret over every single mistake or missed question. There isn't anything WRONG with that. It's actually pretty logical, if you think about it. The kids who are content with B's probably think: "Hey I passed! AND I still got to play outside for 2 hours, instead of 'wasting' it inside studying". Right?
As long as he learns the basic concepts (particularly in math) then he will be fine. Math builds upon itself year after year, concept after concept, so make that foundation sure. The rest... meh... you'll both figure out where his "normal" scores will land. And it may change over time, too.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Here's the thing, there is only one point between an A and a B. Each school's grading scale is different and I don't know what his school's is but an example would be 94-100=A and this example a kid w/ an 93 gets a B while one with a 94 is an A. That is one point and no reason to be disappointed. Even if it was a 90 vs. 95...that is still a great grade and you know he worked hard.

Another way to look at it is that you know he worked hard and was struggling with the material. Also, there were only 10 questions so each is worth 10 percentage points. While if there had been 100 and he got two wrong he would have had a 98 instead of an 80. It seems you are focusing on what he got wrong rather than his hard work and what he got right.

Grades should average themselves out over the course of the semester. Now, if he is struggling overall, you need to talk to the teacher and see what can be done to help him (extra time, tutoring, extra homework, other techniques). He's still getting As and Bs so I wouldn't stress right now...even with the occasional C. Now if Cs become the new standard, then that would be cause for concern. But, my old teacher who was later my son's principal told a group of us parents to focus on our kids being a well rounded student rather than being at the absolute top of their class...unless they were in the top 3, it really wasn't going to matter if they had straight As or some As and some Bs and maybe even some other words in the end, the overall child/student was more important than the grades they earned.

Every student will have good teachers and some not so good. He may be struggling with her teaching style this year. But hey, this school year is just about over.

Something that may help him would be to tell him to go w/ his first instinct unless he is sure of the answer.



answers from Chicago on

I imagine he already feels bad that he had the right answer the first time and then changed it. The "second-guessing" is him really thinking about the question and his answer, with perhaps a bit of nerves. I think for this test, he did his best. Find one of those questions he got right that was difficult while studying and praise him for it! With only ten questions, it is actually a little harder to do well (it's really a bit much to expect every question to be right), especially if a person studies too much.



answers from Washington DC on

I think that you work with your child and expect As and Bs and accept the occasional C. SD came home with a C on a paper recently and she knew right away that wasn't acceptable. "How long did you have to work on it? And how long did you ACTUALLY work on it? Yeah, we thought so..."

I think that if he has testing anxiety, address that. Teach him how to slow down, think clearly, go back over his work, etc.

Try to find out what kind of a learner he is. I'm largely auditory, for example. I had to read the material out loud or be in class. How does he learn best?

Every grade has challenges. I wouldn't let him fall behind, but I wouldn't sweat a B now and then. Personally, math is not my forte. I got miserable grades in math. Mom was just happy if I pulled a C.

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