Report cards are useful learning tools. They help measure your child’s progress, and they shed light on areas that need improvement. But there’s one thing they shouldn’t be: a surprise.

Stay on top of your middle grader’s progress with these tips.

Watch grades. Check grades online if your school offers this option. Also, look through your child’s binder for marked quizzes and homework. Keeping up will let you celebrate success or catch a falling grade.

Know assignments. List test and project dates on a family calendar. That will remind you to see how your middle grader did on each one.

Ask questions. If grades are dropping ask your youngster to explain. Did he miss assignments? Does he understand the material?

Note: if your child’s grades are good, be sure to praise him!

Source: Middle Years (c)2006 Resources for Educators, a division of Aspen Publishers, Inc.