As we talk about report cards, keep in mind that they don’t measure the really important stuff. 

One night, when I was home, fresh out of medical school, my mother suffered a ruptured aneurysm. She died while Dad and I did CPR on her.  It was hard to feel my own mom die under my hands even as I did exactly what medical school had trained me to do. 

That night, if I had been graded on my CPR I would have gotten an A for technique, but I gave myself an F for results.

In the aftermath of my mother’s death I got the chore of going through her papers. To my surprise, I found Mom had kept my report cards from grammar school.

Now, I had always thought that I was an A student, but the truth was I only got A’s in midterms and finals.  The rest of the year I was a C student. I’m sure this drove my mom and my teachers nuts, but mom never said a word to me. 

In fact, in my 20 years of going to school Mom never once mentioned my report cards. She signed all of my report cards and that was that.

My dad only once talked about my report cards. I was in fourth grade and he asked, half laughing, “How could you get an F in religion?” 

(I went to Catholic school and religion meant the Baltimore Catechism, a book with about 300 questions and 300 answers that we had to memorize. We used the same book all 8 years; when we got to the end we again started at the beginning. It is extremely hard to fail a test when you know the questions ahead of time!) 

Did Mom want better grades from me? Yes, she would not have kept all my report cards if my grades weren’t important to her.

But one of my major issues in school was simply showing up. (I started playing hooky in kindergarten, but the school officials finally caught me in first grade.)

I didn’t like school and they didn’t like me. It was only Mom’s calm insistence that I go that seemed to calm my teachers and push me out the door every morning. 

Dealing with bad report cards takes wisdom. You must let your children know you will love them no matter what their grades are.

Learn to discern if your child’s report cards are a result of emotional issues or academic misunderstandings. 

  • A straight-A student in math who is failing English shows a bright child who may have reading problems. Test for reading level and fix the problems.

rocket phonics(If you get Rocket Phonics we should be able to clear the problem before the next school year; you are welcome to email me if you have questions.)

  • Grades that are all over the place in all subjects illustrate that your child is simply not engaged.  

The unengaged or bored child is a serious problem. This child tends to get into trouble that becomes more serious over time. If your child is not engaged, the best way to engage him or her is to feed his passion. 

A few months ago I had a mom who was using Rocket Phonics, but her child simply didn’t want to learn to read. In fact, at age 7 he had no interest in any school subject whatsoever.

As curiosity is a major motivator from the day we are born, this lack of interest needed to be cured before her child was permanently turned off to school. 

I asked his mom what his passion was and her answer was rockets. I asked her to buy a rocket kit, place its picture on the refrigerator, and hand him the directions.

I told her to say, “When you can read these directions, you can put the rocket together and shoot it off.” 

A week later her son was fully engaged in learning to read. 

Education is a tool to empower your passion; the more it fails its purpose, the more disengaged your child becomes.

My mom saw me struggle for 25 years with this issue, but she lived long enough to see me get engaged in my own education and graduate from medical school. 

The Purpose of PassionIf your child is unmotivated, then consider my book, The Purpose Of Passion, available at

The book offers practical steps you can apply right away. I highly recommend you get my book and work on this issue before it is too late.

stephen guffantiStephen Guffanti, MD 

As a medical doctor, author, and homeschooler, Stephen Guffanti, M.D., offers a unique background and tremendous insight, and communicates with warmth and humor.

Not only is Stephen a physician, but he’s also dyslexic and ADHD, and from this unusual perspective he brings hope and understanding to families.

Born with a passion for education as well as medicine, Dr. Steve has served as the medical director of a clinic specializing in learning disorders and has studied nutrition and its effects on learning.

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