You probably remember how daunting Parents’ Evening was back when you were the topic of discussion. Years after wiping your brow for the final time, you’re back at Parents’ Evening – and it can be just as confusing as the first time around. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
Why is it important?
When you consider that school is where your child spends most of their day, and their teacher the person they spend most of their days with, you realise that Parent’s Evening is an important glimpse at a huge part of your child’s life that you don’t get to see.
Your child’s teacher is likely to know things about your child that you may not. Of course you’re going to want to be given a clear picture of how your child is developing; academically and socially. Teachers have been through this process time after time and are experienced at getting the important info to you.
The problem is that they will likely have a ton of other parents to speak to that evening, and you’ll be lucky to get so much as 10 minutes with them. It’s for this reason that it’s important to ask the right questions- so you can find out everything you need to in this short timeframe.
What should I ask?
Depending on whether your child is at primary or secondary school, Parent’s Evening will be a pretty differing experience. At primary, you’ll probably be speaking to your son or daughter’s sole teacher. With a Secondary Parent’s Evening, you’ll be running around all over the place speaking to their various subject teachers. Regardless of this there are some questions you’re always going to want to ask.
Firstly, if they’re reception age or in Year 7, it’ll definitely be worth asking ‘How is he/she settling in?’ When kids don’t settle into a school well it can have a negative effect on their entire education and it’s really important to identify any problems around this quickly.
To get straight to the point, a good question to ask is ‘What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?’ Of course you don’t want to dwell on negativity, but it’s important to know where they’re struggling. On the other hand, it’ll be lovely to hear what areas they’re doing well in.
Turn the tables…
Once you’ve asked this, you’ll be wanting reassurance that the teacher is supporting your child in their weaker areas. Ask ‘How are you supporting and helping my child in their weaker areas?’ Don’t be afraid to turn the tables on the teacher and to make the conversation about them! They’ll know you only want the best for your child.
Once you’ve cleared up what the teacher is doing to help your son or daughter, it’s worth asking ‘What can we do at home to help?’ Teachers are experienced and trained professionals, they’ll know what’s best for your child and how you can help.
Your child may be in a school year with important exams coming up. If so, it’s worth enquiring ‘What grade is my child working at? And what grade are they expected to achieve?’ Remember, don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to explain the grading system if you don’t understand it. It’s been a while since you were at school and these things change!
It isn’t all about grades…
Try not to dwell purely on academia and grades too much though. It’s healthy to get an idea of what your child actually enjoys doing. This may be a particular subject, they may have a particular creative skill or they might excel at an extra-curricular activity. Ask ‘What does my child enjoy at school?’ It’ll be great to know and allow you to nurture their talents!
It’s important you set aside some time to discuss the social side of your child’s school life. ‘How do they behave at school?’, ‘Do they get along well with other children?’ are good, direct questions. Your child may be behaving very differently at school compared with home and you need to know about this.
Is my child happy?
Finally, and surely the most important question to ask- ‘Is my child happy?’ You can get this question in at any point, just make sure you do. Regardless of grades and academia, your child can only get the most out of their education if they are happy and healthy. The answer should be yes, but if it isn’t, it’s time for you and the teacher to take action.
Depending on what point in their school life your child is at, there may be more specific questions you’d like to ask, so take this guide as a rough outline only. The best piece of advice we can give you is not to worry! Both you and your child’s teacher only want the absolute best for them. Even if there are problems to discuss, the teacher will always have great things to say about your child too and it’s going to be wonderful to hear.