Parents Bring Their 10-Year-Old To Her Teacher Because She Is Not Getting As. What Should The Teacher Say?

Steven Schlozman, M.D., Massachusetts General

Question: A 10-year-old is brought by her parents to her teacher because she is not getting As. What should the teacher say to the parents? How should the situation be evaluated by the teacher and parents?

Answer: So in this circumstance, it sounds as if it's the parents who were bringing the child to the teacher because the child is not receiving the grades that the parents would like the child to have. There's a number of potential issues here: One is the teacher should spend some time trying to understand what are the grades that the parents are looking for? Is it all As? Is it As, Bs, Cs? What are the grades that the student is looking for? Has there been a change in the student's capacity to earn the grades over the last say, six months to a year? Was the student once a very good student and no longer a good student (because that could suggest the onset of learning disorders, of major depressive disorder, of anxiety)?

The other part is to help parents gain perspective. There are increasing and overwhelming academic pressures on children these days. This has been in the news; this has been well documented, it has been shown in studies. It's not been helpful at all for kids either from academic or psychosocial development to pressure them increasingly around academic performance unless there's substantial academic decline. And even in those instances, you want to understand the reasons for the decline rather than simply asking them to do better.