The school year has started, children are getting used to new classes and parents’ evening is just round the corner. Many parents will simply go along, listen to what their child’s teacher has to say, maybe look at some work, then go home. That can be useful, of course, but in this short guide we provide some pointers (from experienced teachers and parents) to help you get the most out of the short appointment.
What is parent’s evening for?
It might seem obvious but this is a real opportunity for you to find out how your child is doing at school. This doesn’t just mean in an academic sense either; you need to know how they cope socially, and how they respond to the adults they work with. Your questions for parents’ evening should therefore focus on the academic and the social.
Social parents’ evening questions
Let’s face it – for most of us the happiness (and safety) of our child(ren) is paramount. And if they are happy and feel safe they are in a better position for learning. Make sure you get answers to these questions:
- How has my child settled into their new class and routines?
- Is she/he happy at school?
- How does my child get on with other children? When playing? When working?
- What is being done in school to support any social challenges?
- Is there anything we can do at home to further support this?
Make sure your perception of your child’s social development and the perception held by the teacher are similar. The parents’ evening questions above should help to establish this. Children can be at least a little different at school than they are at home. Some support may be needed if there is a big discrepancy.
Academic parents’ evening questions
The teacher should tell you something about your child’s academic progress but make sure you leave with a good idea about the answers to the the following:
- What are their strengths academically?
- What further challenge in these areas will help push my child on even more?
- How can we support this at home?
- What have you found that is effective in helping my child make progress?
- What areas require work to ensure they are where they need to be?
- How can we support these areas at home?
There’s nothing wrong with going into parent’s evening with these questions written down. When bombarded with information, what to ask at parents’ evening can become confusing. Use notes to help keep you on track and to make sure you have asked all that you wanted to.
Of course, before you can ask questions, make sure you are on time (even if the teacher is running late). Make time to look at your child’s work. Take positives away from the your discussion with the teacher and share these with your child as well as addressing any issues. The outcome of parents’ evening should not be punishment of your child. If issues have arisen at school requiring punishment, these should already have been discussed with you at the time. Use the answers to the questions to provide support for your child at home and to form the basis of an ongoing dialogue with the teacher. Finally, keep hold of any notes you have made as you’ll find these useful to refer to at the next parents’ evening when you should be hearing about the progress your child has made.