Later on this week or month, you will perhaps receive and then open an envelope containing your child's tri-annual report card, an account informing you of their academic progress in school so far this year. Literacy skills, numeracy outcomes, social studies/health/science curricular goals will all be highlighted. You will discover how your child performed in Core French (or languages of another option), as well as in musical and physical education.
If your child was lucky, they will receive an evaluation of their performance in the creative arts and technology. These areas, all worthwhile skills and knowledge about which teachers report and provide feedback to parents and their children.
But you might find that not everything your child has learned will be part of that running commentary. In fact, there are other areas of learning of which your child has endeavored and persevered which will not have a nice, neat slot in which to fit...will not have a category to suit, per say, on that form which you will open and read.
And when you finish reading that report, you might find that you did not read about...
• How your child has been learning to listen, both to their own inner voice as well as to the voices of others
• How your child has been learning to pick up after themselves and keep their work area neat and tidy
• How your child has been working on good habits, like waiting for a turn to speak instead of blurting out, as well as how to keep their laces tied so they do not trip
Parent, you might also not read...
• That your child has been learning terms like bias and discrimination and prejudice and stereotypes, which they have understood in the context of their very own classroom.
• That your child now knows why it is never, ever OK to call someone, or something, retarded.
• That little changes sometimes make a big difference.
Parent, I must also mention, you might not read...
• That your child is learning to show respect and tolerance to those that he/she even finds different and unlike them.
• That they now understand that responsibility sometimes means "I can take ownership of my own stuff, including homework and clothes."
• That working out problems involves some talking and a lot of listening.
• That sometimes people find their emotions arrive at school, and this is OK and even good.
You also might not realize...
• That your child has learned why it is not OK to interrupt.
• Why we never sharpen pencils during a classroom discussion.
• Why we insist that everyone stand at attention during "O Canada."
• Why we accept no less than all students treating each other kindly, in the very same ways they wish to be treated themselves.
No, these lessons in life are not rocket science. But they are nevertheless important lessons that have to be reinforced over and over and over again. Each and every day. Each month of the year, from first term through to the end. And then again, the next.
And you might not know either, that your child has heard directly from their teacher's mouth: that she loves them, her students; they they have a special place in her heart. They have learned that when they come to her for help, she will not turn them away. And they are learning that she counts development of their character as being her number one priority, understanding that if respect and kindness is mostly what they learn this year, it will have been a year well spent.
You see, a report card can only tell you so much. It will never cover all the bases, will never hit all the marks or touch-points. Nor was it ever meant to. Report cards let parents know some truly key academic information, but the real stuff of living... those aspects of life and learning that are found in the day-to-day living of the classroom? That stuff has to be experienced to be understood.
The real learning is discovered where individual minds and hearts unite. And here is something we can all agree on...telling the story of a child's learning adventure is hard to capture in a box or line.
That's because your child's report is just the opening to the real heart of the story. The rest is waiting patiently to be discovered.
Your child's teacher.
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