How to Prepare for A Parent-Teacher Meeting
Why should you attend your parent-teacher meeting
Parent-Teacher meetings are all about communication. They give you a great opportunity to talk to your child’s teacher about not only their academic progress, but also any specific needs or areas of interest that they have outside of school. This information provides your child’s teacher with a well-rounded picture of who your child is at home, and aids in strengthening the relationship that you and your family have with the school. If you have considered helping out in the classroom, the meeting is also a great place to find out more about what would be expected of you. Even if there is nothing in particular that you want to talk to the teacher about, by attending you are showing your child that you value their education and are seeking ways in which to support their needs. After all, it’s where they spend the majority of their waking hours…
Your child might be worried about what you and their teacher are going to say about them.
Ask your child what they think the teacher might tell you about them; if they have any concerns, they can let you know before the meeting. Also, ask your child what their proudest achievement this year has been. Whether it was making new friends or kicking a goal in soccer, they need to know that the conversations between you and their teacher will cover their successes too.
You may feel uncomfortable about attending the meeting due to your own negative experiences with schools or teachers.
Go into the meeting with an open mind and remember that your own experiences may be a world away from that which your own child is experiencing. If you show an interest in your child’s education the teacher will be far better positioned to work with you in helping your child to have the kind of education and school experience that you want for them. If you still feel uncertain, you can always bring a trusted friend or family member along for support.
How to Prepare for the meeting
- Have a list of questions ready. You may like to ask:
- How are my child’s social skills progressing?
- Are there any particular activities or lessons that my child is reluctant to take part in?
- What suggestions do you have for me to help my child improve/extend their learning?
- What has my child’s biggest success or achievement been this semester?
- Are there any support services that I can access within the school for my child’s needs?
- If any changes have occurred in your child’s life, be prepared to let the teacher know. These changes could include health issues, family separations or financial stability; all of which can impact on your child’s learning and well-being.
- If you have a complex range of information to discuss with the teacher, request a double session to ensure you have plenty of talk time.
- If your child has seen a specialist such as a speech pathologist since your last meeting, bring a copy of the relevant information along for the teacher.
- Have a notepad and pen handy.
- Find out where you need to meet with the teacher and take note of the date and time. It is best to arrive 5 minutes early so that you have a full meeting and therefore get the most out of it. If you are late though, remember that you will need to cut the meeting short and possibly arrange it for another time. This will ensure other parents won’t be kept waiting.
Should I bring the kids?
If you bring your child to the meeting talk to them beforehand about how you expect them to behave. If you have to bring younger children along, pack some minimal mess snacks and a well-loved game to keep them entertained. If you think that the information that you need to discuss with your child’s teacher should be addressed in private, then you will need to find someone trustworthy to mind your child. On the other hand, you may want your child to come along and partake in the conversation. If this is the case practice chatting to them about their strengths and areas for improvement so that they feel confident in talking about themselves.
Meeting in progress:
- Be willing to listen to and try out the teacher’s suggestions, and avoid getting defensive or losing your cool. Remember that this is a conversation about how you can best work together to support your child.
- Ask questions, talk about your child’s needs and raise your concerns respectfully.
- End the interview on a positive note; for example, let the teacher know what you will be doing in order to follow up on any concerns after the meeting.
- Steer clear of questioning the teacher about other children; aside from making the meeting awkward teachers’ cannot legally provide this information.
When the parent-teacher meeting is over:
- When talking to your child after the interview, be honest but also keep it positive. Suggest two things that they are doing well, and one area for improvement. If there are quite a few improvements to be made you might make the issue more generic, such as, ‘we would like to help you improve your concentration.’ From this statement you can list a few more specific problems that are occurring.
- Ask your child to provide their own suggestions on how they could make some improvements; making a success plan in conjunction with your child helps them to feel empowered and in control of their own learning.
- If you have created a plan with the teacher, discuss this with your child so they know what the expectations are and implement it ASAP.
- Let any other significant adults in your child’s life know about these changes so that they can support your child in the same way.