End of school year not a happy time for everyone

The last day of school has dawned bright and sunny in the Czech Republic, but for many children it is a day filled with trepidation. According to police statistics, an increasing number of children are running away from home because they fear their parents' reaction to bad report cards. It is also a busy day for psychologists and volunteer workers manning the child help lines offering toll-free crisis counseling, Daniela Lazarova reports. Mrs. Jarmila Knight of the Our Child Foundation which has set up these help lines, confirms that this is indeed the case.

Jarmila Knight: We can confirm that many more children phone about this problem and particularly in June every year we get more and more calls regarding the problems they have with school reports.

Radio Prague: Parents must be doing something wrong if an increasing number of children are worried... what should they do about this? Maybe they are not paying enough attention to their children in the course of the year?

JK: That is indeed the main reason. It is quite wrong when you start being concerned about your child's school results only when they bring their school report in and you see the results. I think that the main thing is to have communication with your children throughout the school year and then it cannot be any surprise for you when they bring their reports - whatever they are.

RP: When a worried child calls -what advice do you give?

JK: If they are worried and call us it means that there is already something wrong in the relationship they have with their parents-otherwise they would not be scared. If the parents do not expect such bad results then we advise children to start talking to them. The "short-circuit" reaction is very dangerous, because if the child just comes and shows bad results the parents usually get very angry because they are surprised. So try to avoid that. Try to talk to your parents and try to explain why it has happened if the results are bad , and once you start the conversation then of course it is much easier.

RP:Do you have any contact with parents or do you just counsel children?

JK: Actually we recently established a parent's help line which has now been operational for three months and of course parents can phone us and ask for advice. We encourage parents to call separately.

RP:There is controversy about whether children in primary school should be given grades -what do you think?

JK: This is a debate that has been going on for years. I feel that it is better to have a more complex evaluation of a child's work during the year- not just one mark at the end of it. It is very difficult to make this mark to express the child's effort to do better. There are children for whom getting good marks is no problem. If they get the same marks year by year they do not have any encouragement to get better and possibly they could. So, I feel that the evaluation in words is actually much more expressive of the actual situation each child goes through as they try to learn.