As half term holiday approaches, most parents will be researching exciting activities to do during the week. But before we get ahead of ourselves, there is one important event which will occur this week – the parent teacher meeting.
As a parent myself, I have experienced quite a few of these to date, where some have been more successful than others, and I’ve realised that preparation is the key. After reflecting on my previous experiences, here are a few tips I’ve formulated that might help you at your parent-teacher meeting.
1. Keep it to the ‘parent’ and ‘teacher’
Unless your teacher requests that your child be present, it’s better that your child isn’t with you at this meeting. Information you want to share with the teacher and vice versa isn’t as easily done so if your child is present. Don’t forget there may be things there may be things both parties want to say that isn’t necessarily productive for the child to hear.
2. Prepare questions before the meeting
Preparation is key as you only have a short time with the teacher. If you have concerns or areas you want information on prepare the right questions so you get the information you are looking for. There’s nothing worse than walking away thinking you forgot to ask something that was really important to you, and you have forgotten because of other things the teacher brought up.
3. Take a notebook and use it
You are about to be hit with a lot of information, and writing notes will give you the opportunity to look back at the discussion points and review. It will also help as a reference point for the next meeting, so you can see where things were and how they have progressed.
4. Remember the purpose of the meeting and deal with negative feedback in a productive way
Try to remember why you are there. The purpose of the meeting is to understand the areas where your child is doing well, and to highlight any areas where they may require improvement. This can be academic, behavioural or anything really the teacher feels is important enough to bring up at the meeting. Remember however that although teachers set the agenda, you are part of the conversation. The goal is to work together to plan a way to solve any problems – take on responsibility for helping the situation by doing things at home, but also ask the teacher what they are going to do about it.
5. Don’t be shy to share personal information that you believe is affecting your child.
Personal information such as major events happening in your family’s life helps teachers because students often look or act different in the classroom without explaining what’s bothering them. Teachers are the eyes and ears when you are not at school, so it’s important to give them context.
6. Find out how they are doing socially
How we behave, social acceptance, appropriateness and interaction are all things that we as children had to learn ourselves, and most of this mastery was built up over a period of time when we too were kids and learnt via social interact with our peers. I don’t know if you have a similar memory, but this was easier for some and harder for others, and ultimately had some impact on attitude toward school. For some children, the stress endured at school has nothing to do with academics to begin with, but if ignored, it can turn into something more prohibitive toward their attitude to their work at school.
7. Give the teacher a little insight
Telling the teacher about non-academic skills your child has, any hobbies or passions that really interest them allows the teacher to connect them to what they teach. This ultimately makes school more interesting for your child.
8. If you don’t get it, ask for it
There has to be something that a teacher can give positive feedback on, so if the teacher hasn’t given you any, ask for it. No matter what, the last thing you want to do is leave the meeting feeling hopeless about your child’s school experience. These meetings are about identifying, collaborating, problem solving so you feel empowered not depressed and worried.
9. Last but not least – ask your child
Ask your child if he or she wants you to specifically address. If there are things bothering your child, they may not always feel confident enough to bring it up directly with the teacher. Being an intermediary helps bring it to the teacher’s attention, which helps your child’s voice be heard.
Was this helpful? Do you have any more points to add that might help fellow parents? Just login and share that in the comments below.
If the meeting with your child’s teacher raised areas where your child needs to improve in Math or English and you are considering getting help, do let us know. With an initial assessment we can help you understand the specific areas your child can improve, and design a tailored study programme to suit their needs to work towards achieving those goals.