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Tracking your child's grades online

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Convenient or micromanaging?

The internet has brought so much to our lives since it boomed in the mid-90s. Who could now live without a certain online bookseller, online travel booking and, indeed, this fabulous site? But sometimes, I think, the 'net takes us too far.
Mom and dad looking at children's grades online

One of my favorite things about being online is being able to communicate with my kids' teachers by email -- notes in the backpack always felt so inefficient. Although I try to keep such communication to the absolute minimum so I'm not interfering with their job, it is comforting to know it's there.

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As schools have moved toward more of an online presence, schools' entire grade reporting and tracking systems are going online, too, giving parents access 24/7. Some of the sites hosting online grades include jupitergrades.comthinkwave.com and engrade.com.

Have we gone too far?

It sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Checking your child's grades at any time? See how he did on the last test? How that homework went? I thought so, too, at first, and when we received a letter telling us how to create an account, I went right to it. I set up my ID and password, clicked all the right boxes and there were my son's grades right in front of me.

And I felt... weird.

It felt sneaky, almost -- a little disrespectful of the trust I was trying to maintain between myself and my son. It felt like I was seeing things I shouldn't, even though as a mother I have every right and a responsibility to know what is going on with my child's academics. There was nothing in the grades that surprised me, but it just didn't feel quite right.

Don't go looking for trouble

I have to say that I can see how having online access to grades would be beneficial if your child is having specific academic issues, but for the kid who is doing fine? It seems unnecessary -- like you are looking for trouble where there is none.

I guess that's what it felt like for me; like I was looking for trouble where there is no trouble, getting overly concerned with the minutia and not seeing the bigger picture.

My son's academic career is ultimately his, not mine. As such I've worked to build trust around it. I know he will ask for help when he needs it, he communicates issues that are happening and generally I know what is going on. For this kind of situation, online grade tracking feels like overkill.

Willpower

If some issue were to arise, I can see using this online grade tracking system. In that sense, I like knowing that it is there. But for now, I'm going to depend on my own willpower to not check grades on a daily or weekly basis. Until presented with evidence I need to do otherwise, I am going to trust in the relationship I have built with my son.

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For more on kids and grades

How to deal with bad grades
Set your kids up for homework success
10 Steps to school year success

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