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How to get the best from parent's evening

(14 Posts)
Tailtwister Mon 04-Nov-13 09:39:51

I have a parent's evening coming up this week (primary) and we have a 10 min appointment with the teacher. Any tips for getting the most out of the time? We have already been asked to email 3 main areas of interest/concern, but mine have been very broad as I don't have any major concerns.

I would like to let the teacher have some time just to give her take on how things are progressing, but is this the right approach? I don't want to make her feel I'm putting her on the spot, but I want to really hear from her rather than waffling on myself. After all, she's the one in the class room each day and all I see is the homework and what small snippets DS tells me.

If you're a teacher, what do you feel works best?

toomuchicecream Mon 04-Nov-13 20:14:29

I always start off by suggesting to parents that I work through my pre-prepared comments first, and then take questions from them afterwards. That way the conversation is structured and I get in everything I need to say. If I do it the other way round then the information is likely to come out all higgledy-piggedy (to my mind), so as one question leads to another we might talk about maths then reading then maths then writing then maths.... I do make sure there's always plenty of time for question.

(That way I very rarely have appointments run over their allocated time slot, and if we are getting into a more detailed conversation that there is time for, I am ready to suggest making another appointment when we can talk properly.)

thehiddenpaw Mon 04-Nov-13 21:00:17

I have learned to go with list of questions. My husband and I talk and agree queries. For instance, it took me 3 years to find out every child gets a target. Even at reception they are assessed. We ask about targets, general social skills, one child has slight hearing problem, we found that info had not passed from one class to next etc. it has taken me a few years to prepare! I let teacher talk, take notes then do my questions.

thehiddenpaw Mon 04-Nov-13 21:01:06

I am not a teacher sorry for posting! Just a parent

SmileItsSunny Mon 04-Nov-13 21:55:29

Interesting - I was surprised when the teacher asked if we had any questions, it genuinely hadn't occurred to me. DD's only been there a few weeks, what would we be questioning?!
Much more interesting to hear what the teacher thinks.

Ferguson Mon 04-Nov-13 23:04:46

Some teachers show parents samples of the child's work, outline progress in the main subjects, say how they are fitting into school life, and then state any concerns on work, confidence, social skills, etc. Then parents can ask about anything they don't understand, or specific problems.

MidniteScribbler Tue 05-Nov-13 00:26:12

As a teacher, here are my comments:

1) Please let me speak. I have information to give you, but I need to be able to get a word in.

2) Don't bother bringing up issues that happened in previous years unless they are relevant to the current work. Don't complain about previous teachers to me. They are my colleagues and I will not participate in bagging them out. It also makes me wonder what you would say about me to outside parties, so I'll be pretty wary when interacting with you.

3) Don't be defensive. If there are issues, then let's work together to solve them. Think about solutions, not arguments. It's not a personal criticism of your child, we're bringing up things which may be solvable if we come up with a solution.

4) Asking what you can do to help at home always makes me happy. It shows that you care about your child's education.

5) The main thing to remember is that we both have the same goal. To help your child and to get the best from them and help them learn and succeed. To do that we need to work as a team.

6) If the time is ticking down and you still have things to address, then ask to make a time to meet with the teacher. There are up to 30 parents to see on an evening, and everyone running just five minutes over makes for a very late night. Don't be that parent that everyone is standing around glaring at because you won't let the teacher go.

MiniMonty Tue 05-Nov-13 00:44:36

Just ask "are there any real problems"?
If the answer is "No", chill out, go home and keep making the effort with the homework.

Tailtwister Tue 05-Nov-13 07:57:44

Thanks for all the replies, it's incredibly useful to hear from both teachers and parents..

DS only started in P1 in Sept, but I've been very pleased with how he's settled in to school which imo is the main thing at this stage. I just want to make sure I'm on top of things and doing all I can to support his learning at home, without going over the top and exhausting him. We don't go out of our way to do extra things outside of the small amount of homework he gets apart from reading to him. Hopefully that is enough, but if it isn't I don't want the teacher to be afraid to tell me so!

pumpkinkitty Tue 05-Nov-13 08:03:29

I always start by asking if the parents have an questions. We report levels etc on paper so that can usually wait until the end, I'd rather deal with any issues or questions they have first. I feel the parents then feel they've got a bit more of what they want from the meeting.

I would say have a few questions prepared if there's anything you want to ask. I've had parents take notes which is fine, obviously helps them remember.

Oh and don't just sit there playing on your mobile while I talk to the side of you head should have stopped that meeting really

TeenAndTween Tue 05-Nov-13 09:58:02

Go in with the 3 most important things you want to know. When the teacher has finished their bit, if they haven't covered your questions then ask them.
- How is DD getting on with her friends. I am concerned she says she has no one to play with sometimes.
- Has DS's spelling shown any improvement - we have been working really hard at home on this
- How is DD expected to add up number these days

GW297 Wed 06-Nov-13 23:14:17

Pumpkinkitty - I do the same!

PastSellByDate Thu 07-Nov-13 13:35:39

Hi tailtwister:

I'm in England so it's different but I suspect that my usual questions would work anywhere:

First parent/ teacher meeting of the year:
Are they settling into your class well?
Is there anything you feel we should be working on at home?

Mid-Year parent/ teacher meeting:
How is s/he progressing?
Is there anything you feel we should be really focusing on at home?

End of Year parent/ teacher meeting:
How have they done?
Is there anything we should be working on over the summer?

I've found asking what we should be doing at home has been useful. That's when I've learned that for DD1 reading out loud was weak or multiplication tables were weak - and we've known to focus on that for a few months to help things along there.


Tailtwister Thu 07-Nov-13 15:49:00

Thanks for all the advice. We've had the meeting now and everything was fine. It was really nice to see some of the work he's done in class and I'm so proud of him. He's really taken all the challenges head on and done his best. We couldn't ask for any more and his teacher was really pleased with him. There are a couple of things we can work on at home, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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