Bad Progress Report? 3 Ways Parents Can Respond


School progress reports have arrived and it doesn’t look good. Your son is missing multiple assignments and his grades are dropping fast.

You know he can do better, but every time you try to talk about it, you get angry or frustrated.

How can you effectively respond to trouble at school?

Now that we’re through the back-to-school season, academic concerns and school struggles are starting to surface. We’re hearing from a lot of parents about these issues. It’s tough to know how to tackle behavior or academic concerns at school when you aren’t there to see them or address them.

Here are three effective ways to respond to your child’s school troubles:

1. Pause before jumping to action

It’s a natural response for us to jump to action. You see a failing grade and immediately start worrying about what this means for your child’s future, so you ground him for the rest of the semester until his grades improve. Or, you hear about a fight at school and march in to confront the principal, who, in your opinion, has never been fair to your daughter.

These are serious issues and they do require action, but just pause for a few moments before you take the next step. Pause and take a deep breath.

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2. Ask yourself: What’s my part here?

School issues often push our buttons. Perhaps you had some hard experiences at school and you don’t want the same thing to happen to your child. Whatever the situation, it’s important to remember that this is your child’s experience at school–not your own. These missing assignments are his to complete, not yours.

Try to separate your feelings and reactions from your next step. Ask yourself,

What part can I play in responding to this without doing my child’s work for them?

  • Your role might be to hold your child accountable and make a plan for him to make up the missing assignments.
  • You might decide to meet with teachers or school counselors about getting your child some extra support at school.
  • Maybe your role is to be an advocate for your child and bring your concerns to the principal or superintendent.  Make a plan for how you can be involved.

3. Take advantage of school resources

If you are feeling stuck with what your role or plan should be, try reaching out to the school. Ask who is available to help you and your child. See if you can meet with your child’s teacher or school counselor to talk about what is happening and how you can help find a solution.

What happens next will depend on the situation! But starting with these three steps can help you find your way forward.

Remember, additional support is available from the Empowering Parents parent coaching Team. We provide online coaching to parents worldwide.

For additional tips on how to handle school challenges, check out this article by Janet Lehman: When Your Child Has Problems at School: 6 Tips for Parents.


When you need guidance through a specific situation, have questions about your program or just need someone to listen when you’re overwhelmed, our professional parent coaches are waiting to help. Each is highly experienced with our range of learning programs and dedicated to personally motivating and supporting you. Learn more about Empowering Parents online parent coaching.

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