Top tips for getting the best out of
Parents’ Evening – It’s coming up to that time of year again. Whether your children are in primary or secondary education, we are called in to attend the obligatory Parents’ Evening.
It’s your opportunity to sit opposite the class/subject teacher for 10 minutes, to discuss how little Jim or Flossy is progressing in their education.
Parents’ Evening, we go in, fingers crossed, hoping to be told that not only has our little darling been an example of fine social standing with manners which Marjorie Proops herself would have been proud of, but that they are also on track to inventing time travel or to be the founder of the meaning of life by the tender age of 12.
On the other hand, if you were anything like me as a child, you sat at home waiting for your parents to return with that abject look of disappointment, and possibly fury, on their faces, in the aftermath of being told by your Year 7 maths teacher that you’re a disruptive child who gravitates to the back of the class in a bid to become a menace to society. Looks like the joke’s on him now though, right? With that in mind, here are some top tips on how to get the most out of parents’ evening.
1.There shouldn’t be many (if any) surprises: Don’t wait for parents’ evening to discuss the major issues which have been plaguing you or your child for the past four months. Ensure that you have contacted the school prior to parents’ evening to discuss issues which are creating concerns and/or anxieties for your child or you. Instead, use parents’ evening as an opportunity to simply “touch base” with the teacher and review progress.
2.Go prepared: There is nothing worse than going into any situation knowing that you have things you want to ask or discuss, only to find that once you get there, you have a complete mind blank. Write items for discussion down before you go, therefore you will be able to cover what you want to discuss and not walk away frustrated feeling like you missed something. Questions to consider are, “Does my child seem happy at school/are they making any friends?” or, “Is my child achieving what you would expect for a child of their age?” All of these are questions which can lead to broader conversations about your child’s progress in school both academically and socially.
3.Set the teacher at ease: Let the teacher know that you are invested and engaged in your child’s learning and want to be able to support them in the best way possible. This creates an atmosphere conducive to open and honest dialogue between you and the teacher, which will help you all provide the appropriate help and encouragement for your child.
Questions such as, “What can I do at home to support their learning?” or “Is there anything that is causing you concern?” will be like music to the ears of most teachers.
4.Involve your child: Prior to the meeting, familiarise yourself with the report, focusing on strengths and areas in need of support. Ask your child if there is anything they would like to be discussed at the meeting on their behalf. If appropriate, include your child in the meeting itself, although this can sometimes be challenging, so check with the teacher first.
5.Follow up: If the time slot isn’t long enough, arrange a follow-up meeting with the teacher to discuss any concerns at a time which allows both the teacher and you to really get to grips with the matters at hand.
Ultimately, keep this thought in mind. Whether parent or teacher, the child should remain the focus of the conversation and both parties should be working together to ensure the child is achieving their full potential. Yes, the teacher abides by a curriculum and teaches topics, but as parents, we have a responsibility to instil in our children an understanding that they need to be engaged in their learning and we do that by role modelling. Your children look to you for guidance in the right direction, therefore working in partnership with their school is imperative for your child to have a chance at making the most of their education.