In the busy world of today, parent-teacher interviews can easily sneak up on you and before you know it, you’re in the car on the way to school thinking about the type of feedback that will likely be forthcoming about your child’s academic progress.
Generally, parents should not be surprised by anything discussed during a parent-teacher interview; teachers would normally raise any issues or concerns well before sitting down with parents for a standard Term 2 parent-teacher interview.
Related article: Are you engaged or just involved in your child’s education?
For parents, the interviews are an opportunity to gain more in-depth detail about how your child is doing both academically and socially. Just like you are not in the classroom to see what goes on, the teacher is not in your home. There may be a situation at home or school that your child talks to you about but the teacher is unaware of.
Making assumptions or being hostile won’t fix the problem. Your child’s teacher is there for the best interests of your child and wants to help. Explaining any issues calmly can lead to quicker problem solving and better outcomes for your child.
We all know how crucial parent involvement and communication is in the classroom. Getting the most out of these short but crucial interviews is imperative to your child’s learning.
So, to ensure you walk away satisfied with the information you are given about your child and how they are performing at school, here are some useful parent-teacher interview preparation tips:
- Reflect: Think about the meeting in advance and set a goal for what you want to achieve.
- Prepare: Talk to your child. Identify questions to ask, such as: Is my child achieving at the appropriate level? What do you see as his or her strengths?
- Acknowledge the role of the teacher: Acknowledge that the teacher has many students they are responsible for. Let them know you appreciate the opportunity to meet with them about your child.
- Be proactive: Ask to see examples of the student’s work. Ask how work is assessed/graded. Ask what you can do at home to help your child. Find out what services are available at the school to help your child. Ask how the teacher will both challenge your child and support your child when he or she needs it.
- Share: Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about your child. Share with the teacher what you think your child is good at. Explain what he or she needs more help with.
- Make an action plan: Agree on a plan with the teacher. Write it down – noting especially what you will do to support the teacher/school at home. Schedule a follow-up meeting if necessary, particularly if you can see that you’re running out of time and you will not get to ask all your questions.
- Follow up with your child: Talk to your child about how the meeting went. Share with your child what you learned. Show him or her how you will help with learning at home. Ask for his or her suggestions.
If your child is present at the interview, remember that it is not meant to be a conversation between the teacher and the student that you get to observe – the interview is for you to be informed about your child’s progress – actively participate and make sure you leave better informed than when you arrived.