What I look for…



It’s report card time and I always anxiously anticipate the grades my kids will receive each quarter when they come out.  The end of the year is always extra special, as I see both of my kids grow through the year and await the evidence on paper.  Each time I hold their report card in my hands, I show them what I immediately go to first:  what I call the most important part…

 “Characteristics of a successful learner”.

 Yes.  That’s really all I need to know.    The rest of the academic evaluation and final assessments are important but not near as significant as these skills and abilities.  You know the ones:

 Listens Attentively

Follows School Rules

Exercises Self Control

Cooperates and respects the rights and property of others

Follows classroom rules

Puts forth consistent effort

Follows directions both oral and written


 It’s the very first thing I go to when I am handed their report card.  It’s also always the first section, which proves its significance. 

 If my children can consistently do well on those abilities, then I am proud and I am lit up with crazy joy that squeals with delight.  I often grab and hug and spin my child with a “YAY!!!  I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!” as I repeat over and over again these words:

 “No matter how you do on all the other stuff, THIS is the most important of all.  You make me proud.”

 So proud.

 My kids might not be in that superior academic range, and if I had to roll the dice on their future schooling- I would place my bet on “average” for the long run.  But that’s not my dream for them.  Yes, having so many amazing intellectual skills and high academia status are signs of excellence and success.  And yes, degrees and education are valuable and enriching pursuits of the finest and most cherished of all life choices.  Learning is good. 


 For 45 years, I have used my “average academic mind” to live the richest and most fulfilling life.  And let me say, I didn’t study too hard.   And I admit to some serious rebellion in my youth.  But above all else, I had a heart.  A big one.  A deep one.  Too deep during adolescence.  Still probably too deep.  But I thank God for my heart.  And as the years flew by at rapid speed, tossing me this way and that, my heart never failed me.  So it’s the heart I value more than anything else. No degree gives you a heart of gold.  You have to grow your own.  I am trying to nourish the hearts of my children so they too can live a deeply fulfilling life with whatever path they follow.

 So back to the report card.

 All these characteristics involve respect.    Respect others… respect yourself.  Here lies the rich soil for the heart to grow. 

 We are only at the beginning of this journey.  But I dare to dream the only dream I will ever wish for with my children. 

 That they have a heart of rich and illuminous gold.






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  1. Marcia says

    You have the biggest heart of anyone I know, it comes out in your writing. Your little darlings are following in their Momma’s footsteps!

  2. Candice says

    Woohoo!!! Character/Conduct is always the first priority!!!! Carter kids have stars across the board in that department!! Happy Summer!!

  3. Carol says

    I wish more parents were like you. As a teacher, I always always emphasize effort and attitude more than anything. I even have a “grade” for that in my high school classes. I tell my students that it is that part of yourself that will help you the most in all aspects of life. Sometimes we pressure kids so much on the “grades” they receive. Kis feel judged, incompetent, and depressed if they feel they aren’t meeting the mark. But who sets that mark? Report card time can be so difficult for parents and students alike. I agree with you, sis. The heart and attitude is what is always most important… ( :

    • says

      Yes, I can only imagine how many kids you have taught this principle to in your almost thirty years of teaching. It is so encouraging to hear you confirm my perspective!!!

  4. Jen says

    I agree! It’s how we are as people where our true self shines true. Grades, scores and college degrees can only help out so far. After that, it’s the character of the person that will determine success or failure.

    • says

      I totally agree. It’s all about character. What’s IN you will determine the success in how you live your life- degree or no degree. Education is valuable, but character and heart surpass anything!!!

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