School Parents’ Evenings are a great chance for you to hear from your child’s teachers about how they’re doing. You’ll normally get 10-15 minutes to sit down with each teacher. It’s your opportunity to listen to them and tell them anything that will help them better understand your child.
While your teen spends hours every week with each teacher, you only get this brief slot, and it can be hard to narrow down everything you want to ask them. Here’s a list of Dos and Don’t to help you make the most of the evening.
… ask your child about how each subject is going beforehand. This gives you some points to raise with the teacher. Once you’ve sat down with each teacher, it’s useful to see if your child’s sense of how they’re doing matches their teacher’s.
…see it as a chance to work out the next steps for your child. Whatever your child’s worries or concerns, you can use it to get a full picture of your teen’s progress, and make a plan for the rest of the year.
…listen to what they have to say. You might have lots ready to ask or tell them, but start your meeting by hearing what the teacher’s prepared first.
…ask questions. As well as hearing what the teacher’s prepared for you, get some productive feedback by asking things like “what can my child do to improve”, “where do they struggle most?”, and “what grade do you think they should aim for?”.
… see their feedback as building blocks for the rest of the school year. Whatever the teacher says, it should help you, them and your child form a constructive plan for the rest of the school year.
… take the chance to tell the teacher how your child has been finding their subject, relaying anything they might’ve been too shy to say in class. If they have one-to-one tuition, it’s also a nice opportunity to repeat any comments from the tutor could be helpful to the teacher. You can similarly tell the tutor anything important the teacher says about your child’s learning, connecting home and school, teachers, tutors and parents in a really productive way.
… take notes, if you like. If you’re seeing 6 or more teachers in an evening, it can be easy to forget some of the important things teachers have said. You don’t need to write everything down as if you’re in a class, but if a teacher says anything really important you don’t want to forget, it’s a nice way to keep a record. It’s also helpful to show your child afterwards too.
… talk to other parents (if you feel like it). If you find yourself waiting in the corridors before a teacher’s slot, talking to parents whose kids are going through the same as yours can be a lovely way to swap stories and get an idea of how other kids are finding school.
… tell them anything important that will help them to understand your child. Of course, don’t say anything you’re not comfortable sharing, but if there’s anything at home that’s been making things hard for your teen, the teacher’s awareness of it might help them work out the best way to help them.
… debrief with your teen afterwards. This is a really valuable opportunity to sit down with your teen and talk about how everything’s going. Tell your child all the positive things their teachers said about them first. Whether their teachers sang their praises or suggested lots of areas for improvement, your child should always feel that you and their teachers are on their side.
… thank them! Teachers work hard and if they feel like you’re on their side, they’ll be in a much better frame of mind to do their best for your child.
And here’s a list of some things to avoid doing…
… get defensive. If a teacher is telling you that your child needs to work harder, or change their behaviour in another way, the best thing is to have a productive conversation about how to help them do that.
… bring gifts. While it can be nice to thank teachers at the end of Autumn term or the school year, it’s not really a done thing for parents’ evening.
…get angry with your child. If a teacher has told you about naughty behaviour or that they’re not applying themselves, telling them off is likely to make them feel everyone is against them. If they don’t think you or their teachers believe in them, they’re even less likely to apply themselves.
… fill up the time with just you talking. Your meeting should be collaborative and give both you and the teacher a chance to better understand your child.
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