10 questions you should ask at a parent teacher meeting

by Ramya Manoharan | Feb 14, 2018

Parent teacher interview_blog

A child's academic success is linked to parental involvement in education. And, when parents and teachers work together the child wins.

Recent research, however, shows that parents are adopting a hands-off approach to education. The ASG Parents Report Card 2017 found that as children grow older, parents and schools drift apart. 

Some parents see their involvement as unwanted. Others may feel that it is not important for them to be as directly involved as when their child was younger. 

The report reveals that 54 percent of parents surveyed say that they would call their child’s teacher to enquire about their progress. This drops to 48 percent for those with children in secondary school.  (Read the full ASG Parents Report Card 2017.)

It doesn't have to be this way. 

Ways to forge a meaningful partnership with your child’s teacher

Make use of parent-teacher meetings to build a partnership with your child’s teacher. Here are 10 meaningful questions that will help you cover a lot of ground in one meeting.

1) Can I tell you a few things about my child? 

Tell the teacher what motivates your child, likes and dislikes, skills, strengths and weaknesses. Also talk about any family situations that may impact the child, say a divorce, illness, or the arrival of a new baby. 

2) Is my child generally happy?

The teacher sees firsthand how your child interacts with his or her peers. Their input may give you an insight into the social and emotional wellbeing of your child. 

3) What is my child good at, and where does he or she need to improve?

It’s easy to get defensive when you hear the response to this question, but try to keep an open mind about it. The teacher will be able to do a Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat (SWOT) analysis. They can give you a constructive third person point of view of your child’s abilities.

4) How do I read NAPLAN and term results?

ASG has a useful guide on how to read NAPLAN scores. But, don’t shy away from asking the teacher what all those coloured bands and dots on the report mean and how they relate to your child. 

5) Is my child meeting the expected academic standard?

You don’t have to wait for the NAPLAN or term results to get the answer to this question. Ask the teacher. Observe your child’s work in class. Use that as a pointer to enquire whether the child is meeting the expected grade level. Don’t compare your child’s performance with that of other children in the class.

6) Is my child making the necessary effort? 

Regardless of your child’s school performance, ask whether the teacher thinks the child is giving his or her best to a task. This will help you gauge whether the child is slacking off or needs some handholding. And, if the child needs extra help, try to work out a plan with the teacher.

7) I heard that … happened at the school. Can you fill me in on the details?

Your child may have narrated an incident that sounds like a case of bullying, or you may have heard about uninvited visitors on campus.  Talk about these and other concerns to the teacher. This way you can find out school policy on such matters.

8) My child has special needs. Can you tell me how the school can support him or her and what additional resources are required?

Ask specific questions about whether the school has the required infrastructure and resources. You can also talk about the school’s plan for meeting the needs of children with special needs. 

Who knows? This discussion may lead you to help the school collect necessary funds to get the resources they need. This way you will help your child, and also become a valued patron of the school.

9) How can I support you in class or school activities?

The discussion need not always revolve around your child. Teachers appreciate parent volunteers. Schools are always looking for people who can help them organise events, help out at the uniform shop or accompany the children on school tours. Try to make the time, but also be realistic. Don’t promise things you can’t deliver.  

10)  How can I contact you?

Most of the time parents are at a loss as to how to contact the teacher. Finding the most suitable mode of communicating with your child's teacher will come in handy. The teacher will also appreciate you making an effort to schedule an appointment, instead of just dropping by to jump them after school. 

Teachers like it when parents are interested and involved in their child’s progress in school. Just make sure you walk into the conversation with a shared goal. It will help you see eye to eye with the teacher and get results.

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