Have you ever come out of a parent-teacher meeting feeling that you’ve wasted your time? Maybe the teacher didn’t seem to know much about your child or you feel you’d been given the conveyer belt treatment.
Sian Goodspeed, founder of Flying Start Tuition and a former teacher, shares her tips for getting the most out of these important teacher-parent interactions.
The teacher has to prepare for these meetings, but you as parent have a responsibility too. If you show up late or stressed after work, without having reflected about what you’d like to know about your child, it is difficult for the teacher to give you the information you want.
Take the meetings seriously, as you would any other meeting. Be on time and try to prepare some questions before you arrive.
Most teachers will appreciate if you guide the conversation to areas that you’d like to focus on, instead of expecting her or him to guess what you’d like to know.
However, if there is a serious issue you’d like to discuss, which needs a lot of time don’t expect to resolve this during a 10-minute parent meeting or you risk annoying not only the teacher, but other parents too.
Raise the issue by all means, but only to make a follow-up appointment to discuss the problem later in more detail.
Questions to ask the teacher:
1. What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
2. Is he or she working to his best ability?
3. What are areas where he or she can improve?
4. Are there specific areas of work he or she struggles with?
5. Is my child participating in class discussions? Does he or she follow in class?
6. How is my child doing socially? Does he or she have friends?
7. What can we do at home to help my child learn better in class?
8. What does my child’s standardised test scores tell me about my child? Is there anything about my child’s performance or behaviour that concerns you?
Write it down! Don’t hesitate to take pen and paper and write down the most important things the teacher tells you about your child and areas for improvement or suggestions for how you can help your child at home. This is particularly important in secondary school where you’re likely to meet different teachers for each subject.
When you get home, tell your child what you’ve learned about his or her behaviour or work. They’re usually very curious! Focus on the positive, but if there are issues to be addressed, do so sensitively. For younger children, you can even take some photographs of his or her artwork in the class.
If you feel you need more information or you might want to review anything in a few weeks, set up an appointment right then and there to ensure it doesn’t slip off the agenda.
Don’t forget that you and the teacher are on the same team and most teachers will have your child’s best interests at heart. Be open and respectful to the teacher. If, however, you have serious concerns with a teacher’s approach to your child and you are unable to sort this out during a follow-up meeting, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with the head teacher to make your concerns known.
Sian Goodspeed is the founder of Flying Start Tuition, which offers maths, English and 11 plus tuition across Buckinghamshire.
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01494 772 898
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Congratulations to Sian for getting through to the finals of the Best Business Woman Awards for two categories: Best Business and Best Business Working with Children and Families. The awards ceremony is on Thursday 20th October at Tewin Bury Farm. More information on the awards can be found here: www.bestbusinesswomanawards.com