School parents’ evenings are a great chance for you to hear how your teen is doing – directly from their teachers.
You’ll normally get 10-15 minutes to sit down with each teacher. It’s your opportunity to listen to what they have to say and also 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 cover.
Here are some key dos and don’ts to help you make the most of the parents’ evening.
Talk to your child beforehand
Ask them how they’re doing in each subject. This will give you some points to raise with their teacher, plus it’s useful to see if your child’s sense of how they’re doing matches their teacher’s.
Be present and pay attention to what the teachers have to say. You might have lots to ask or tell them, but start your meeting by hearing what the teacher has prepared first.
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?”.
Take on board their feedback
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 plan – and maybe some clear goals – to work toward for the rest of the school year.
If you like! If you’re seeing six or more teachers in one evening, it’s easy to forget everything they’ve said. You don’t need to write everything down, but you might want to keep a record of key points. It’s also helpful to show your child afterwards, too.
Share anything important
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 might be able to support them better in class.
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.
Debrief with your teen afterwards
This is a valuable opportunity to sit down with your teen and discuss how everything’s going. Tell your child all the positive things that their teachers said about them.
Whether their teachers sang their praises or suggested many areas for improvement, your child should always feel you’re there to support them.
If a teacher tells you that your child needs to work harder or change their behaviour, the best thing is to have a productive conversation about how to help them do that.
While it can be nice to thank teachers at the end of the Autumn term or the school year, it’s not appropriate for parents’ evenings.
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.
Get angry with your child
If a teacher has told you about naughty behaviour or that they’re not applying themselves, just telling them off is likely to make them feel everyone is against them.
Instead, try asking them what you can do to help or support them so they can reach their full potential. If they feel like you and their teachers believe in them, they’re more likely to apply themselves.
Compare your teen with other students
This isn’t a helpful approach for you or your teen – they’re their own person, on their own path. So, it’s best to keep the chat focused on your child.
Go beyond the set time
Teachers will have a lot of parents to talk to across the evening and everyone will have a dedicated slot. If you have other questions or concerns, make a plan to stay in touch.
Feel like your teen might benefit from the support of a tutor? Search our 1-1 tutors here.