With only 10 minutes or so to really review how well your child is doing at school, how can you possibly fit in everything you want to know? Carey Ann Dodah, director of curriculum strategy at Explore Learning, shares her top tips
1. Come with three set questions
Sometimes parents’ evening creeps up on us and we find ourselves sitting blankly in front of the teacher, not sure what to ask – yet you know that half an hour later you’ll be kicking yourself for not discussing that ‘important thing’. So it’s a good idea to do a little preparation.
2. Chat to your child about school and their goals beforehand
Your child can give you the best insight into what’s happening in the classroom. Is there anything they are concerned about? What are they really enjoying? Make some notes on what your child says. It’s really nice to see if these align with the feedback from the teacher and there may be areas that you can fill each other in on.
3. Look for evidence of progress
Progress is measured in different ways across schools now, and so the way your child’s school is demonstrating progress may have changed. Ask about this if it isn’t clear and find out what the next steps are for your child to reach their next target.
4. Look through your child’s workbooks
The best way to see evidence of progress is to look through your child’s books and compare work from the beginning of term to now. Read the teacher’s comments and see if there are any themes – for example, are they often running out of time? Are there areas they clearly don’t understand? Note down anything you want to look at with your child at home. If you don’t have time on the evening, ask to take the books home overnight so you can review them properly.
5. Remember your child’s teacher is on your team
It can be hard to receive negative feedback and your child’s teacher will not enjoy giving it. They really do want the best for your child, as you do. If they have mentioned problems with behaviour or concentration, for example, try to see this as an opportunity to make a change with your child with another person who is sharing your child’s upbringing with you. A combined parent/teacher approach can be powerful.
“Parents’ events are such precious moments where you want to understand everything and cherish all the positive bits while helping your children learn from constructive feedback,” adds Carey Ann. “Remember, your child’s teacher will always be available throughout the year to discuss any concerns – you just have to ask and they will guide you. They may direct you to some upcoming information evenings, the school’s website or book a slot in with you at a mutually suitable time. If you have a long list of questions, parents’ evening may not be the best time.”