Grades vs. Work Habits: What should be the focus?


Some students are experiencing anxiety around their final grades and wanting to have “Straight As”. I have worked with students who feel that there is a lot of pressure put on them for their grades and it is overwhelming to the point of debilitating for them (making it next to impossible to achieve). I wanted to share with you an alternative view on Grades vs. Work Habits in hopes that it may help some children and their families discuss this important topic during a family meeting.

Many students want to do well, they want to be successful and they want to impress their parents, teachers and/or peers by achieving high grades in school. However, reaching A level work is not always an option for all students and for some students it takes a lot more effort than for others.

  • What if instead of focusing on grades your child focused on work habits?

  • Is it possible that if your child had better work habits they would thus receive better grades?

  • Is it more likely your child will increase their work habits than their grades?

The best way to build self-esteem is to focus on small, obtainable goals. Every time your child experiences success, they feel better about themselves (self-esteem) and their abilities (self-efficacy). The better one feels about themselves and their abilities the more likely they are to be successful. See how this works?

Therefore, I implore you to focus on building your child’s self-esteem and self-efficacy by asking them to focus on something they absolutely can do (increased work habits) instead of something that may not be obtainable for them right now (straight As). Due to Covid and many other factors, children’s stress levels are heightened which makes it more difficult for them to perform. Your kiddos have lost many of their favourite ways to relieve stress (play with friends, play team sports, etc.) and when stress is high it is difficult for them to be academically successful.

So, how does one increase their work habit marks?

  1. Hand things in on time

  2. Engage in class discussions

  3. Decrease how often they distract others in class

  4. Increase their focus and energy on their school work

  5. Ask questions when they need support

And speak to their teacher(s) to find out what they need to do to increase their work habits


Parent/Child Activity Recommendation


Find your child’s previous report card and review it with them. Did they get all Es under work habits? If so, then maybe they want to focus on increasing their grade. Did they receive some Gs, Ss or Ns? Then help them come up with a solid plan as to how they are going to increase their work habits. Check in with them weekly on how their plan is going, what’s still a struggle for them? Then re-assess the plan and help them where needed. This builds problem solving skills, goal setting skills, increases motivation, increases connection and support and much more!


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