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  • Writer's pictureIan Gibbs

Is your child getting the best grades possible?

(This post first appeared on Mumabroad website 20 January 2023. For more helpful information for parents living abroad click here)

I was recommended to write an article with this title because it meets the demand many parents have, to make sure their child can become the ‘best they can be’.

This is only natural. All parents want their kids to be successful. Who wouldn’t?

But from the point of view of a Learning Advisor, I’d like to suggest you stop for a moment and ask yourself why.

It’s not a trick question - Why do you want them to get top grades?

For some, it’s to get qualifications to get a job.

For others, it’s to become a successful part of society.

And for others, it’s to be happy and lead a fulfilling life.

So, if you’ll allow me, I’m going to point out a few factors that you might find concerning or might give you some reassurance, depending on the sort of parent you are.

  1. Predicting Your Child’s Future 

Would you like to know how professionally successful your child will be when they graduate, right now? According to the empirical evidence, you can more accurately predict how well your child will fare as an adult by considering their intellectual development at 18 months and combining that with your own socioeconomic status, than by what academic grades they finally achieve. That is what empirical evidence says. According to learning specialist Ian Cunningham, if you’re an average intelligent child with average qualifications but from a wealthy and well connected family, you’re much more like get a good job than if you end up with top grades but from a less socioeconomically successful family. This isn’t good news for most people reading this article, but as they say, it’s not what you know, but who your parents know. This is why expensive private schools help their alumni get jobs, not because of the grades your child gets but because their friends‘ parents are all C-suit executives. So if you really want to increase your child’s opportunities, start cultivating relationships now with people who can open doors in the future.

2: Your Child’s Development Is Beyond Your Control

What if all the things you did to guide your child to become a responsible, well-balanced, well-behaved individual made only a small difference? Would that be a relief or a problem?

According to psychologist Yuko Munakata who has studied separated identical twins, a child’s personality and behaviour is heavily influenced by their genes. Identical twins, separated at birth and growing up in different families still have a surprisingly large similar set of behaviours, interests and values. So if your child is rebellious, or lazy, or hopelessly romantic, don’t worry. It’s not because of the education you’re providing for them. It’s because of their genes!

3: Grades don’t equal happiness 

One way you definitely can influence your child’s well-being is to avoid putting them under too much pressure. Mental health is becoming a major problem with teenagers. The number of children suffering from depression and anxiety have more than doubled in the last 20 years!

Pressurising your child to get the highest grades might not affect their professional success or their genetic make up, but it definitely affects their self/esteem and self-confidence. You’ll be giving your child much better support by taking time to listen to them, understand their lives, pay a genuine interest in their academic work and praise their efforts rather than criticising and focussing on their reports and grades.

So rather than focussing on your child’s grades, how about focussing on your own? Get your child to grade you on how well understood you make them feel, how supported you make them feel and how safe you make them feel in their family environment.

If you can make sure your child is getting the best grades possible from you, then that’s fantastic. Whether they become Nobel Prizewinners or just happy adults living the life they choose, you can rest assured that you gave them your best and that’s exactly what your child needs from you.

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