Working together for the best for our children

Getting to most out of parent-teacher discussions

The Parent-Teacher Discussions. Those words can raise anxiety levels among both students and parents. However, this interview can be highly beneficial to your child’s school year success. It can provide you much-needed insights into your child's learning style, interactions with others, growth opportunities, and even the teaching styles your child is being exposed to.

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Why is it important to go to parent-teacher discussions?

Going to the parent-teacher discussion provides you, the teacher and your child an opportunity to work together as a team in order to help your child with their progress and achievement at school. You each have an important perspective to share — as the parent, you know your child's personality, habits, strengths, and weaknesses. The teacher, on the other hand, has been trained professionally in the best methods of teaching, meeting individual student's needs, how to control classroom behaviour, and how to help your child succeed in school. Working together you will be able to find ways that each of you can provide the appropriate and necessary support for your child. Your child will have insights into their learning they will want to share.

This discussion is also an opportunity for you to ask questions about your child's progress, to learn more about the class and what the students are learning, and to find out if your child is having difficulty with anything in particular.

In addition, the more you know about your children's school and classes, the more likely they will be to talk about daily experiences with you. They will appreciate your concern and involvement, and they will be more likely to approach you when they have problems.

Interview your child before the parent-teacher interview

You will be amazed at what you learn. Sometimes our perceptions as a parent are not aligned with our children. Look through your child’s school report with them. Ask your child:

  • What is your teacher going to say about your work?

  • What will the teacher say about you?

  • What do you think you do really well?

  • What do you need to focus on?

  • Do you want me to ask the teacher any specific questions?

Come with prepared questions

There is a definite time limit to these parent-teacher discussions. The meeting is usually no more than 10 to 15 minutes. While the main focus of parent-teacher discussions should be learning, it's also important to discuss factors that can affect learning, such as students' behavioural and social development.

In order to maximise the time, make your questions specific. Here are examples of some questions for  parent-teacher discussions:

  • Does my child have difficulty listening to and/or following instructions?

  • Does my child have difficulty staying on task?

  • Does my child have difficulty completing learning tasks?

  • Does my child actively participate in your class?

  • What are my child’s learning strengths?

  • How well does my child get on with his/her peers?

  • Are there things we can do at home to help my child?

  • What can I do to help my child make friends and interact more productively?

Your child will love to share their learning with you at this time. It is important, whenever possible, that this is a 3-way discussion and your child attends this meeting. This way it becomes a great opportunity for everyone involved to share and set agreed goals.

Successful goal setting means that goals are achievable, measurable and believable.

  • Achievable: Goals need to be set at a level that is more advanced than the level the child is currently working at, but not so advanced that they are unachievable or beyond reach.

  • Measurable: Goals need to be measurable so that parents, students and the teacher are able to track progress and success.

  • Believable: Children must believe in the goal and believe in their ability to achieve it for success.

Nothing motivates a child more than a home where learning is valued. If parents show a close interest in their children’s school progress, help with homework and attend their children’s school performances and sports events, their children are more likely to have higher student achievement, higher aspirations, better attendance, and a more positive relationship with their teachers.   

(Kelley McGregor, Director of Training and Operation, Oxford Learning).

Remember that even though parent-teacher discussions are scheduled throughout the year, parents and caregivers can make an interview as any stage to discuss their child’s progress.  It is when we work together that we can make the greatest change.

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If you have not had the opportunity to meet with your child’s teacher, around their progress and achievement recently, then feel free to contact them through the school office to make a time.

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Keywords: parent-teacher discussions, school reports, collaborating, student progress

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