Have you ever had the experience of visiting your doctor because something had been troubling you and when you eventually got there, having battled with your employer for time off work and with the clinic for an appointment, you were dismissed by the doctor within a few minutes and told to go home and use paracetamol or get some rest and drink lots of fluid?
How frustrating and what a waste of time! That used to be my lot until I learnt the right conversations to have with my doctor. In the same way, attending the parents’ evening in your child’s school without any preparation could very well be quite frustrating.
There are several things you can do to prepare in advance of the parent/teacher consultation; one of the key steps being to consider the questions that you will be asking your child’s teachers in order to get a clear picture.
Having prepared your well thought out questions, you arrive at the parents’ evening ready to fire them at the teacher. That’s fantastic, right? Hang on a minute; whereas it is good to be prepared, you cannot afford to go about this in a robotic manner.
Start by breaking the ice and building a rapport with the teacher and let your emotional intelligence be at its peak because there are some things you will never know about unless you are perceptive. This is because there are guidelines about what a teacher can/cannot say and in some cases you will need more than surface level questions to get to the heart of the matter.
Therefore in addition to your prepared questions, watch out for the verbal and non-verbal cues from the teacher. Read between the lines and peel back the layers of the onion by asking further questions based how the conversation flows.
If something the teacher says is unclear, seek to understand by asking them to expand on it. Ask the how, why, what questions to know more. For example if the teacher says your child is quite chatty or quite lively, what exactly does that mean? It may very well mean your child is easily distracted or is distracting others but you would not know that unless you ask deeper questions.
Well done, you made it!
√ Parent/teacher consultation is over.
√√ You were well prepared and got through all your questions plus more.
√√√ You now have a clear picture of how well or not your child is doing.
Yes… but the job is only half done, this is where the rubber hits the road, what are you going to do about the feedback? It is time to press on and think of what needs to start, stop or continue.
- Praise your child for any good feedback received from the teachers no matter how small. If you had set some goals and rewards at the start of term using the tips in our back to school blog, now is the time to reward your child for achieving those goals.
- Review the plans you both agreed to at start of term and make updates to the goals. Drop the goals that have already been achieved and rewarded in order to make room for new ones that are needed based on the feedback from the parents’ evening. You may also need to update some of the existing goals to incorporate what you gathered from the parent/teacher consultation.
- If you had not set any academic goals with your child or put plans in place before, now is the time to do so based on the feedback from the parents’ evening. For tips on how to do this see our back to school blog.
Whatever the outcome of the parents’ evening, there will be some work to do, so roll up your sleeves and press on.
Do not rest on your laurels because your child had glowing feedback, there is always room for improvement as no one is perfect. You may even want to consider extracurricular activities to help your child become more rounded.
On the other hand the fact that you weren’t pleased with the feedback about your child does not mean you should give up, rather it gives you something to sink your teeth into and with the right levels of discipline, love and consistency, you should see the results in due course.
Do not miss the follow on blog for a broad range of questions to ask at the parent’s evening.