Reward Effort, Not Grades

I’ve had this post sitting around for a while. Since I’ve written it, I’ve gone back and forth about posting it. I wrote this for me, to sort out my feelings and to serve as a reminder for myself. I’m sharing it with you, because, well, maybe we all need a reminder that grades alone don’t reflect what’s going on with our kids in school.

In my “mom world” report cards are coming out soon. For some families, this is a good time of the year. They see their child’s good grades, pat themselves and their child on the back, and everyone feels good. That’s not the case in every household. Effort doesn’t always translate into good grades, just like for some, good grades come without effort.

We live in a world that looks only at the bottom line and rewards results. Hell, that’s my personal viewpoint, too. Crunch the numbers, examine the results. That’s why this concept is so challenging for me. While I appreciate bottom line mentality, I also realize it’s flawed. Flawed because we aren’t seeing the complete picture.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not suggesting rewarding a lack of effort. I’m not saying kids should never crack a book and be told they’re doing a great job. What I am saying is all kids don’t fit into the “good grades” mold.

We’ve all heard the quote, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This is something I constantly have to remind myself. I understand how important reading and writing are. Schools teach it, kids get their grades, but everyone doesn’t have an easy time with it. For some, simply reading the instructions on a worksheet is an accomplishment.

I have a son who struggles in school. Every grade he gets is through hard work. My son is learning determination. My son is developing strength of character, and while watching him, I’m also learning what character is truly about.

It’s hard to watch him struggle. It’s hard to watch him fight so hard and still fail. Another 60% on a math test. Another failed spelling test. While it’s hard for me to see both the grades and the struggles, I’ve come to realize that my son will be ready for the world. He will appreciate his accomplishments, knowing he worked hard to achieve them.

I can’t take credit for his fierce determination; it’s something he was born with. Something that has been nurtured, yes, but I could never teach that kind of determination.

I can take some credit for his hard work though. Why? I help him every step of the way. I’m his cheerleader. When he cries that he doesn’t understand, I give him a hug, a tissue, a pep talk and let him know I’m there to help him until he does understand. I help him with the work. I help him stay encouraged. I sometimes even help him overlook the disappointing grades and focus on the growth.

I feel his disappointment when another test comes home that didn’t even receive a B. I share his happiness over the 50% on his spelling test because that 50% was the best he could do, and it took hours of work and extreme effort. It was fought for. Like many parents, I cry for him when he’s not around. I worry about him and wish school could be easier for him.

A while ago, my friend Jen at Real Life Parenting shared an amazing post . In that post she says “ I will encourage my kids to give their best effort in everything they do. I will support them in their endeavors and hobbies. I will celebrate their victories. I will tell them I am proud of their achievements. I will build a sense of self-worth and pride in a job well done. I will let them make mistakes and fail. I will hug and comfort them when they’re disappointed. I will allow them to learn the tough lessons. I will help them set realistic goals. I will help them become successful.”

This holds true, not only in extracurricular activities, but also in the classroom. At this point, my son can’t get straight A’s in school, no matter how much effort he gives. It would be unrealistic for me to expect that of him. He could, and should, put forth a heroic effort though. His success, no matter the grades, should be celebrated.

My son has many talents. He is genuinely kind. He is truly empathetic. He can draw beautiful pictures. He has determination and courage. He has a great palate and is adventurous with trying new foods. He enjoys cooking. He is considerate, and thoughtful, and polite. He doesn’t receive grades on these things though. These fall into the “grey” area, but they contribute to the amazing person he is.

Grades don’t matter to me nearly as much as the effort put into getting those grades. Achievement isn’t the same for every person. Some people have to work extraordinarily hard to accomplish something really small, but the small accomplishments deserve to be celebrated. Sometimes, if you knew the whole story, that small accomplishment wouldn’t seem so smalll.

92 Thoughts on “Reward Effort, Not Grades

  1. anita dawson on November 18, 2013 at 12:37 am said:

    Love this article it is so true.

  2. As an academic over achiever and ace, this was really good for me to read. Maybe when my son struggles with math, it’s not him being lazy. Maybe he is genuinely confused by the concept I feel is so simple. Wise words here lady. I’ve spread them all over the Internet.

  3. Your explanation of your son reminds me of my daughter— she is dyslexic, and dyscalcularic. That may explains his difficulty with certain things and his gifts with other. Yes GIFTS…many dyslexics are talented in the arts, science, and 35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic for the very determination you describe your son possess. In our house effort out weighs a grade and accommodations at school help to level the playing field just as a ramp accommodates with person in a wheelchair.
    Knowing my daughter is dyslexic has made me address the weaknesses while supporting the gifts. Because in 20 years the grade she gets on a spelling test will not matter but her drive and gifts will!

    • Thanks for posting that Melissa. It’s always nice to have a reminder of the whole picture in the long term, and not just the immediate. I’m starting to “get it” now, but it has taken some time to wrap my head around it.

  4. I am so glad that you chose to create this separate blog rather than stop posts like these! I am a fan of your recipes and will continue to be subscribed there but you are so much more than that and I’m happy that you are willing to share that with us. Consider yourself “liked” on Facebook :)

    I totally agree that effort is as important as the grades on the report card. I do get on my kids’ backs if I feel that they aren’t working hard enough but never forget to cheer their successes when the effort is made.

    • Thanks so much Kat! I’m just happy some people enjoy reading my “off” stuff since I love writing it so much! It’s hard to remember that sometimes effort doesn’t pay off as much as we would like, but as long as the effort is made, what more can a parent ask for? :)

  5. Patricia DiMercurio on November 18, 2013 at 6:23 am said:

    Hi Rhonda, this was a very good post. I know you all try very hard to achieve those grades, whether they’re stellar or not. That beautiful boy will achieve great things, even if he struggles now. Love you all and miss you much. Give me a call if you have time today or tomorrow. Need some input on Christmas gifts. I found something that the kids might have fun with.

  6. I totally get this. My kiddo actually does really well in most areas and sees results in problem areas when he tries hard or we take a different direction. He does, however, struggle with reading and I have to make myself be okay with him always trying to catch up. The thing is, he keeps working at catching up, over and over, and that is what’s important. He’ll get there. I just have to remember that. He works hard with behavior too and I cannot expect 100% there either. If he’s trying, we can work through the rest :) Thank you for this wonderful post.

    • Stephanie, I’m so happy you enjoyed this post. We all go through our moments of feeling down that our kids are constantly playing catch up – or at least I do, and I imagine other parents do as well. But, most of the time, we are able to put on our “happy cheerleader face” and help the kids do what they have to do, right? As long as they are working hard and we are helping them along, I have to believe it will all work out. :)

  7. I love this. I was this. My brother could get an A after looking at the material for an hour and didn’t bother to try, I tried and could barely get a C. It is something to remember – to encourage and celebrate the unconventionalness of our kids just as much, if not more, than what is deemed “normal” and “acceptable” by popular culture.

    • It’s funny Lacey, it was the same for me and my brother while we were growing up – although I was the one who could get decent grades with no effort. And now, this with my son makes it so much harder than I ever imagined. I love that you said “encourage and celebrate the unconventionalness of our kids” because often times that is the piece that is hard for me to remember – celebrate the difference.

  8. First, thank you for writing this post. I was one of those kids who no matter how hard they tried Math was not my forte, still isn’t. I excelled at everything else but Math was my Achilles heel. I had teacher’s think I was just lazy but my mother understood. My brain couldn’t wrap itself around Math at all. We all want our children to be the best and do well in school. As my husband always reminds me, Einstein was considered developmentally challenged and look at what he accomplished.

    • I also had a hard time with math. Actually, Geometry in high school was the only D I ever received on a report card – stupid geometry! I remember my parents being fairly understanding and just asking me to try to get it up to a C for the next marking period. I think it was a C-, but it worked for us. We all do want so much for our kids, but we just need to be sure we aren’t beating them down and breaking their spirit in the long run – at least that’s what I try to remind myself of.

  9. Rudi Pebbles on November 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm said:

    It is difficult. The school systems judge kids by standardized tests. These tests test, how standard are you?
    If you are a standard person, you will do well.
    The problem with this is that the people who actually change the world, who innovate, who contribute, are not standard people.
    They are extraordinary.
    We don’t test for that,
    So, if your child is good at one thing and bad at another, he/she is deemed inadequate.
    Great at English but suck at math? Fail high school.
    Great at math but such at English? Same result.
    And, always keep in mind that this is his/her WHOLE world. How they learn to judge themselves. And they do judge themselves, no matter what you say.
    Let your kid know that he/she has your support.
    The tests test how average you are.
    Maybe you were not born average. Maybe a lot of things they teach in school seem so boring and outdated. Maybe one person’s mind can’t wrap itself around one subject, but can totally understand another.
    If you want to crush the spirit of your kid, then put up with all the restraints that standardized testing puts on them.
    Don’t make them afraid of learning. Set them free to learn what they love and celebrate it.

    • Rudi, thank you so much for your comment; it actually made me tear up while reading it. I want to print it out, frame it, and hang it on my bedroom wall as a reminder to myself. What an awful thing for a person, especially a kid, to experience. Constant judgement and feelings of inadequacy. Your comment serves as a great reminder of what I don’t want my kids to feel like.

  10. Thanks for stopping by my place today and leaving a comment.

    I have three boys. The oldest two did well in school, then went on to college. The third struggled all through elementary school, got a correspondence curriculum high school diploma, and tried community college for a year before he went to work full time. I think they’re all winners.

  11. He sounds like a winner to me. His inside and his character matter more than any grade does. I love how you are being such an encouragement to him.

  12. I love love that quote! I’ve tweeted it once or twice, and you are so right on. My kids do pretty well in school but my son has struggled with athletics. I want to say “Do anything you want!” but really? That is not going to happen in the sports department. I just try to focus on his strengths and his effort. That is what counts.

    • I agree strengths and efforts are what we need to focus on. I think recognizing our children’s weaknesses are one of the harder parts of parenting, but at least we aren’t in denial.

  13. My husband and I are facing a situation with his daughter, who suffers from ADHD and a slight learning disability. There are 4 kids at her house and we worry she’s not getting the help she needs with her homework and the assistance she needs to learn to work with her brain and not against it. Her grades are not good and we worry she will be held back. It’s hard when you’re not the custodial parent and have to do things from a distance and only get 2 days a week to be helpful. This is a great post.

    • I understand what you’re saying Chrystal. One thing that went crazy when I had kids was my ability to worry. I worry over small things, and something like education just put my worries into overdrive. I really think providing a supportive environment is one of the best things you can do – and that’s something you can keep going even when she’s not there. As parents, we are all doing the best we can do. Good luck and try not to let worry get the best of you.

  14. This could be my son you are talking about. Not every kid will get an A in life, it is the parents that need to change the expectation. We put our kids in Montessori – Jake has been there 2 years now (he is in 4th Gr) his self esteem has grown and his measurement against the norm as dissipated. No longer does he feel ashamed he can’t do something. It has it’s moments but we have come a long way in 2 years. Thank you for this, wish everyone believed in this.

    • I wish everyone had this outlook too and that’s why I felt it was so important to share it. It’s had such a positive response that I wish every parent could read this as something just to keep in mind. You said, “it’s the parents that need to change the expectation” I haven’t ever thought of it like that. I love that thought, thank you.

  15. Rhonda, you have written a very thought-provoking, valuable post. I’m glad you decided to go ahead and publish it. :) My very favorite part of it is your beautiful description of your son in the next-to-last paragraph. What a lucky kid to have such a balanced, insightful mom.

    • Thank you Joy. He is a fantastic kid. I fear that people won’t realize what a great kid he is, or how very smart he is, because they are focused on the things that he works so hard on. I also think, as a society, we tend to focus on the negative. I know I do. Shoot, have you looked at other posts on this blog? I want people to realize that sometimes we need to look past that negative to see the wonderful people who surround us. And now I sound like a sap – sorry :)

  16. Rhonda,
    This is such a great post, and your son is lucky to have you on his team. My daughter has struggled with reading and still does. Her lament over the years has been ‘it’s not fair’ which is accurate, but not much in this world is, and learning that now will serve them well later.
    Recently she was complaining to me about her friends for whom good grades come easily. I confessed that I was one of those kids, but that when I got to college I was pretty screwed, as her friends will be. She, on the other hand has developed great study skills, works hard and with focus, and will be prepared for what lies ahead, much more than I was.
    (sorry this is so long)

    • Nancy, first, thank you. We all have that “it’s not fair” feeling sometimes and usually that’s because it’s not fair. You’re daughter is right – it’s NOT fair that she has a hard time. I remember several times telling my dad something wasn’t fair and he would always tell me “Life’s not fair.” Truer words have never been spoken. It’s not and it sometimes sucks, but we have to make the best with what we have.

      I was also like your daughter’s friends and you. School came easy, never studying, got decent grades. But I also never felt proud of my grades. I didn’t “earn” them. I think that is the key. I am proud of the improvement my son makes. He might only get 4 spelling words right, and most of us would agree that pretty much stinks. But at the beginning of the week he was getting 0 right so that’s an accomplishment. That’s improvement. That makes me proud of him.

      Lastly, never apologize for being long winded with a comment. I welcome that :) Obviously I can’t keep it short even when I try.

  17. I think you stated this beautifully. It is one of the reasons we left the public school system and started homeschooling. Our daughter is a whiz at anything creative. She is musical and she’s a fabulous writer and she can breeze through a book. Then she gets to math and the train just de-rails. I think it’s great to reward kids who get good grades. There is a lot that goes into a grade other than “book smarts.” Those kids do their homework and show up to class on time and participate in discussion and projects. On the other hand… sometimes we all (not just kids) need to be patted on the back for just slogging through and making progress. After all, isn’t there a famous quote about “success being the ongoing progress toward a worthy goal” or something like that?”

    • Elizabeth, I’m not familiar with that quote, but I agree with it. You are right that we all need encouragement for putting forth our best efforts. You’re right, it’s good to reward all kids for their efforts – good grades or bad grades.

  18. You had me at “douchebag”. My son is the same, as long as I can tell he genuinely tried I applaud his efforts. He’s dyslexic and tests are a constant struggle so if he gets a C or better I’m thrilled.

  19. I’m so glad you published this :) Obviously this topic resounds with many others. As a teacher, it’s so frustrating to have the grades-as-a-label-of-success idea. I try to tell my students not to worry about how they compare with anyone else … Just look at whether or not you’re growing and learning more from the day before, regardless of what the grade “says”

    Thanks for including me in this post!!

    • Thanks, Jen, for allowing me to include you in this! You know I love all your stuff. I love that you’d encourage kids to only compare themselves to themselves and see how far they have come. I hope all teachers have that philosophy!

  20. Once, when I was teaching a workshop to a group of teachers, we were discussing how freeing it is to encourage your child to ‘do their best’. After all, we can’t do better than our best. One of the teachers was also a parent and her children attended the same school. She expressed to me that she couldn’t do that, because their best just wasn’t good enough. She constantly demanded that they ‘try harder’. She put so much stress into the learning process for them that they were not able to do their best. When they would see her in the halls, they would hide from her, knowing that it wasn’t always going to be a pleasant experience to interact with her. Kuddos to those of you who recognize that each child is unique, each has his or her own learning style. We truly support that when we allow and encourage them to ‘do your best, for we cannot do more than our best’. I love that you recognize that the grade they receive is not the most important part of the learning process. My sister was one who always struggled in school. Momma always said that ‘she got by by the skin of her teeth’. However, she went on to become successful in business endeavors and earn her Master’s Degree in Business Administration. I remember that she always did her best. By the way, I came here through the Family Friday Linky Party.

    • It’s so interesting that you shared this Regina, because there is a large part of me that can relate to that teacher/parent. I can relate to feeling like “this just isn’t good enough.” My son tries so hard but the bottom line is, if he fails the test and doesn’t know the material, best effort or not, he still got a failing grade. I struggle with those feelings constantly. However, I know if I were to express those feelings to him, if I showed him my worries and fears, if I show him that I feel disappointed, then we would both be miserable. He can’t try harder than his best. That’s why I’ve decided to celebrate his improvement and his effort.

  21. Rhonda, this was very well written. I could relate to every thing you put. I have 3 boys…all within 15 years. I believe every child is different. And, every child has struggles. This was a perfect read …because our report cards came out this week. Thank you for sharing!

  22. This post is very timely for me, Rhonda. My kids both brought poor grades today. One child studied hard and just didn’t get the material. The other didn’t study at all and could have done better with just a little effort. Those two grades may be equal on paper, but they won’t be treated that way.

    • Dana, I’m glad the post was timely. I feel so bad for the kids who just don’t understand and have such a hard time. I almost wish my son was just slacking off – then I could yell and punish and almost demand that improvement be made. I almost feel like that would be easier than seeing constant effort with little results. Good luck with your two! :)

  23. This is a lovely and thoughtful post that ANY parent can benefit form reading! I really appreciate how you have described both challenges and triumphs. As a former teacher and current mom, I have to question how he is being taught when he continues to receive grades that you mentioned. It seems that he is possibly not being taught in the way HE needs to learn…Just my 2 cents.

    • Thank you so much Bonnie. I totally agree with you and am really (REALLY) trying to figure it out. There are many times I feel like I’m at my wit’s end. Something certainly needs to change because he can’t take much more of it, and honestly, I don’t know how much more of it I can take either. He knows he’s behind, understands reading and writing take so much effort for him, and realizes that his peers seem to do it effortlessly. I appreciate your two cents – it’s always welcome around here :)

  24. Some of my most successful friends are the ones who didn’t do well in school without a tremendous amount of effort. Tenacity is a wonderful trait, and your son sounds like he is going to be an amazing adult. I really enjoyed this post and your take on rewards.

  25. Great post. Indeed, the system has many holes in it and a multitude of fall-outs. Your son sounds like such a sweetie, trying so hard. Best wishes to the both of you for a fantastic year! This year, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to place my daughter into a Waldorf based system, and there are different ‘temperaments’ that they work with. My daughter is of the ‘melancholic’ temperament, meaning that she is ridiculously prone to – wait for it – melancholy. And of course, she is a perfectionist at heart. Oy! So if she does something not perfectly – in her mind – she chastises herself to the extreme. Her teacher suggested that I indulge it. As in, thank her for bringing up all topics that she does, fuel it that everything she says holds deep value and meaning, and give her reassurance. I am so glad to have found this school for her! The method works, in this circumstance.

    • Thanks Danielle. You’re comment actually made me chuckle for a minute :) You know, as parents we each have to constantly evaluate what is working and what isn’t working with our kids – with how we disciple them, reward them, how they are learning and if they are in the environment that is best for them. And many times, it’s tough to make those calls. If there’s a school that will help the learning process and they have a method that works for your daughter, that is awesome! It sounds like you’re lucky to have found a good fit!

  26. Very true. One should reward true hard work… even if they only bring C’s….and encourage the areas they are good in.

    from a future educator,


    Visiting from Blogalina

  27. Your post brought up so many memories of my daughter struggling in school. I remember crying and taking her to doctors for evaluations..nothing came up. My friends with kids that can do no wrong and high achievers were saying she’s lazy but I knew she was trying real hard..Long story short, it was an adjustment and she’s now in her first year of college and doing great. Nothing is harder than watching your child struggle in any aspect of life but all you can do is support them and bring out their talents. Beautiful post!

    • I hate that so many people’s go to answer is lazy or “they must not be trying.” As parents, we know when that fits and when it doesn’t. It’s great that your daughter is doing so well now though!

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this on the Wonderful Wednesday Link Party on Two Chics and a Blog. I loved this post! Being a former high school teacher myself, I know that not all children are straight A students, and that’s ok. Those children who struggle academically are often some of the most talented students in other areas; sports, music, drama, etc. Parents need to realize that it’s ok if their child does not graduate as Valedictorian! They may not master algebra but they will be a master of other things, like you mentioned determination and character! Great post!

  29. I love this. I love this for so many reasons. I too struggled with my grades because the idea of doing homework all night long was hard for me when I had so many other interests to pursue. I got great grades in classes where I had less homework and not to great grades in classes that overloaded me. But I was constantly grounded because my GPA wasn’t high enough for my parents. I now see how I will do things differently than my parents did. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing on Family Friday’s Link-Up Party!

    • Thank you Carli. I’ve learned many things from my parents and other parents I’ve know. Some of the things have been what I don’t want to pass along to my kids. We each do the best we can being parents, and sometimes that (to me) means standing up and doing things differently than many other people, like rewarding effort above results.

  30. You are being featured on Family Friday this week at Missy Homemaker! Come on over Friday and grab your feature button.

  31. amen, sister! love this post. so true, so true!
    I have one kid who sails through like a superstar — and one kid who struggles mightily just to stay afloat. But if they graded him on OTHER things, he’d be a superstar too — so we do our best to reinforce those things and let him know he IS a superstar in his own right.

    • Thanks Darcy! As a parent, I think sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in the “hoopla” of grades being something that kids should be “judged” on…at least it is for me. I have to remind myself that grades don’t and can’t define how smart my son is overall. I love the term “superstar”. :)

  32. I am so glad you’ve decided to hit ‘publish’ on that post. It really resonated with me on so many levels. I am ashamed to say I did not know the quote about the fish climbing the tree and I am grateful to know it now. This is such an important post. Thank you for sharing it today on Bloppy.

    • Thank you Katia. I learned sometimes we all need to take a leap and share something personal. I’ve re-read this post and the comments many times since I published it and it is always stirs up so many emotions within me. It is a great reminder. It’s the one thing I’ve written that I wish everyone could read.

  33. As a mother of two grown children I have lived this and would like to reward YOU for your patience and wisdom. Grades are just a common measurement used across a broad spectrum to determine a person’s average ability. They are certainly NOT a true determination of capability or compassion. Your son is a lucky boy.

    • Thank you so much. Patience isn’t something that comes naturally for me, so I have to constantly remind myself that I need to be patient. Many times I get frustrated, and I have to remind myself that my frustration is not greater than my sons. I have gotten to the point where I don’t put an emphasis on report card, but it’s taken a long time to get here. And when I start to forget, I just come back and read this post and the comments :)

  34. What a beautiful post! In order to accommodate so many students, our schools create learning processes that work for many children, but not all children. The grit and determination displayed by your son will pay off far beyond what an “A” would have given him. Your message is critically important for all parents. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Thank you so much Jennifer. I think the challenging part for both schools and parents is to figure out why the typical classroom environment isn’t working for an individual child, and then figure out what can be done to set that child up for success. As a parent, it’s both frustrating and lonely to be in that position. Sometimes it’s just nice to know we aren’t alone and many families are (or have been) in the same spot.

  35. My son who is now in 5th grade…. Should be in 6th really struggles in school. I see his determination to learn but he just doesn’t get it as quickly as other kids. He is looked at as a failure at his school. Why do they have the same standards for all kids?

    • I understand Veronica. It really seems like schools are “one size fits all” but that doesn’t really work for everyone. It’s frustrating for kids and parents alike – and it’s gotta be frustrating for so many good teachers who are out there. The amount of extra work we do at home, just to try not to fall further behind, is draining. I feel like we have to really teach our kids that success is in how far they have come, not necessarily on how far someone else says they should be.

  36. I struggle with this a lot, but you couldn’t be more right. I was a straight-A student as a kid so for me, having a kid who is a solid B and sometimes C student is very difficult for ME. I constantly need to remind myself that as long as my son is giving maximum effort, that’s all I can and should ask for. And he should feel proud of himself for his effort, no matter what the grade.

    • Emily, I understand where you are coming from. I think it’s hard to realize that many things that are easy for us can be really challenging for other people, especially if those other people are our kids. You’re right though, as long as your son is giving his best effort, he should be able to be proud of that and it’s okay for you to feel proud too. :)

  37. My 13yo daughter has ADHD and she STRUGGLES in school. I am STRUGGLING to get her middle school to help her more.

    I needed to read this because I think I have overlooked what she DOES do and been so worried about the grades that come home. I know she’s trying and I must remember that.

    • Jennifer, it’s easy to overlook progress, especially when it isn’t as much progress as we’d like to see. It’s hard to get past the mentality of looking at the grades that come home and allowing the teachers to measure the success of our kids. I constantly have to remind myself of this. Constantly.

      Trying to get the schools to help more can be a battle. It’s exhausting. It can be discouraging. But hopefully you’ve got some people there (teacher, counselor, even other parents going through the same thing) who can help you get your daughter the little bit of extra help she needs. Hopefully your efforts will pay off soon!

  38. This is amazing! I love your friends advice when it comes to celebrating the victories and comforting them when they’re disappointed.

    I was never good at math until I learned programming (I’m an honors chemistry major now and a math tutor, so programming really did help!) I wanted so badly to be good at math when I was a kid, but I didn’t have a ton of encouragement (especially being female.) Your son will definitely find his path with your encouragement… even if it’s not math… it’ll be something… and something he’s really passionate about.


  39. I remember being frustrated that my brother and sister were rewarded for their hard earned Cs while I was not rewarded for my As. But now i understand. And i am proud of my mom for recognizing that effort trumps grades.

    • When I was in school I got A’s and B’s without trying at all. I never felt like I earned a decent grade because I just didn’t have to try. However, there are many kids who should be really proud of their A’s because they put effort into those grades. It’s so individualized. But kuddos to you’re mom for recognizing that C’s were the best your brother and sister could do!

  40. Came back and read it again. It was a fantastic post. still is!!

  41. Beautifully written post! Your son is so lucky to have you as a parent and that you are able to recognize is strengths and not put so much focus into his grades. Growing up, I worked very hard in school and generally did well, but when I did get a slightly lower grade I would get so frustrated by my parents asking me why I didn’t do better, knowing that I had worked hard to get the grade I did. I am going to bookmark this post as a reminder for when my daughter grows up. Regardless of the grades she gets, I want to remember that it matters most the effort she put forth.

    • Thanks so much Bev. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that the grades can not be controlled, but the level of effort is well within the control of everyone. Keeping that in mind creates a much better environment for all of us at our house :)

  42. This was wonderful to read and I agree with you 100% about everything. I wish someone had said these things to me when our daughter who struggles was in school. Happy New Year.

    • Thank you so much Sue! I also wish I could have read something like this about 2 years ago. I think it may have helped us get to a much better place sooner. I think that is why this is the one post I wish every parent could read :)

      Happy New Year to you too!

  43. You’re being featured on Family Fridays this week! Thank you for linking up :)

  44. Pingback: Family Fridays Link-Up Party! | Missy HomemakerMissy Homemaker

  45. I’m so glad you shared this post on BB as your favorite. It’s fantastic! We should celebrate victories that are relevant to our children. I can’t imagine what would happen if you demanded A’s. Your son would feel he was a failure when he’s doing such an incredible job.
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  46. I almost cried reading this. There are so many ways that I can relate to this whole experience. I haven’t really discussed it much, but I do hope my son fails. Only when he fails, will he gain practice on how to overcome, persevere or learn a valuable lesson. A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.
    Conversely, when I deliberately look for his natural areas of success I find myself in awe again and again. Forest through the trees some days, but not for long.
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