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On Grades: The Parents’ Perspective

Be careful that in encouraging a grade, you don’t shortchange growth; for a grade ought to be a means to growth, helping students—and their parents—see where they are so they can know where to go. Ideally, grades are the beginning of a conversation about what lies underneath the surface: the “why” beneath the “what”. 

In today’s episode, Heights Headmaster Alvaro de Vicente guides us through a nuanced discussion on how parents can understand, interpret, and respond to their sons’ grades while nurturing strong and lasting bonds. Acknowledging that grades serve as a judgment of the quality of a young man’s work at a given time, Mr. de Vicente sheds light on strategies to decipher the meaning behind the letters and numbers. Is it a problem of time, habits, or effort? Is it a helpful indicator of aptitude?  

Regardless of the cause or cure, Alvaro reminds us that even more important than helping to raise a grade, is strengthening the bond parents have with their son. 


  • 2:30 Defining grades
  • 3:30 Grades: more than a necessary evil
  • 5:00 How parents should approach grades 
  • 7:28 Digging into the “why” behind a grade
  • 9:35 Elements of a grade: intelligence, time, habits, effort
  • 14:45 Optimal Work and grades 
  • 16:55 Why boys need to own their grades
  • 21:00 Evolving relationship with grades 
  • 24:00 Growth over grades
  • 26:00 Respecting a school’s professional competence 
  • 29:35 What your tone communicates 
  • 36:35 Internal motivation 
  • 40:00 How to reframe as a parent

Recommended Resources 

Punished by Rewards? from The Golden Hour Podcast

Also on the Forum

Handling Poor Grades: Steps to an Academic Reset with Michael Moynihan

Grinders Aren’t Heroes: On Student Motivation by Dave Fornaciari and Michael Hude

Motivation: Encouraging Reluctant Students by Tom Cox

About the Guest

Alvaro de Vicente

Headmaster, The Heights School

In addition to his responsibilities as headmaster of The Heights, Alvaro acts as a mentor to high schoolers, and teachers senior Apologetics.

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