Making the most of parent-teacher nights
Parent teacher conferences/meetings are a great way to build a partnership with your child’s teacher in order to help your child reach their full potential. Here are some ways to get the most out of this valuable time.
Before heading off for the meeting, it’s a good idea to put together a list of questions to ask the teacher. In the early primary years you’ll want to find out about your child’s progress with reading, writing and maths, as well as their behaviour and social skills in the classroom and the playground. If your child already has a school report this year, look at both ‘motivation’ and ‘achievement’ to see if there are any surprises that you want to discuss.
Involve your child
Some schools expect the child to be part of the discussion, while others focus more on a discussion between teachers and parents. In either case, talk to your child beforehand about what the meeting is about. Ask your child what they think the teacher will say about their learning and behavior, and if they want you to raise anything.
Share background information
The better your teacher understands your child, the better they can work with your child in the classroom. So if there is anything affecting your child that their teacher may not be aware of – like a new baby, a new house, illness or a family separation – this is a great time to let them know. Also talk about your child’s interests, needs, strengths and personality.
Think about challenges
If your child says some parts of school are ‘too hard’ or ‘too easy’, share that with the teacher too. Teachers are skilled at differentiating the curriculum to suit the needs of each child, and your feedback may help them to identify areas where your child would benefit from more foundational work (and more success), or more challenge (and more interest).
Go with an open mind
Your child’s teacher wants the same thing as you do – for your child to do their best at school. Listen to what the teacher has to say, and stay calm and respectful. If the teacher raises any concerns, ask questions and listen carefully to the teacher’s responses so you understand what is going on. If you are aware of something that might be contributing to the problem, share it with the teacher – for example, your child might have told you that they get distracted by a chatty child who sits near them.
Make an action plan
If you and the teacher have identified any issues, talk about a plan to address them. You might want to plan some learning goals for your child and discuss ways you can both help your child achieve their potential. When you get home from the conference, discuss this action plan with your child so everyone is on the same page.
Talk about how you can help
Discuss ways you can support your child’s learning at home. Your child’s teacher might suggest some learning activities you and your child can do together to enhance their skills. Ask the teacher if they know of any educational resources such as websites or apps you and your child can look at together.
Continue to build the relationship
If you have capacity, ask your child’s teacher if there are any school activities you can volunteer to help with, such as reading groups, excursions and events. Participation in the school helps you get to know your child’s teacher and the broader school community – and also shows your child that you are interested in their school life. This will improve their self-esteem and help them to do better at school.