7 questions to ask at parents' evening
That time of year again? If you’ve ever wondered what to ask at parents' evening, you’re in the right place.
Because at Weduc, we’ve had a think about how to get the most out of those crucial 10 minutes with your child’s teacher. Whether the kids are at primary school or secondary school, it’s all about doing a bit of groundwork first, before asking the right questions.
So, where do you start?
Well, before you go, be sure to have a quick look through your child’s books. Look at the marking, the comments that have been made, and how they’ve been responded to – as well as how current grades compare to previous ones.
Next, even more importantly, ask your child! How are they feeling about school at the moment? Is there anything they’d like you to ask the teacher for them? Are they having any problems, whether with schoolwork or classmates?
Once you’re armed with that information, it should be a breeze to come up with a list of questions to ask teachers at parents' evening. But just in case you need a helping hand, here are our top 7…
1. What is my child best at, and where do you think they could do with some extra help?
Most teachers will give you this information straight away, but just in case they don’t, these are important parents' evening questions to ask.
Although many secondary school teachers deal with hundreds of students on a weekly basis, they should still be able to give you an update on progress, and a specific, personalised idea of your child’s major areas for development.
It’s also nice to be able to pass on any praise when you get home, even if it’s not strictly relevant to exam criteria. For example, maybe they’re great at helping others, or are always polite in class? Little things like manners go a long way for teachers – and in later life too!
2. Is my child where you’d want them to be at this point?
All children are different, but sometimes parents try to compare their child’s school performance to classmates, siblings, and statistics. Don’t fall into this trap! Instead, ask if your child has met their teachers’ expectations for them. Whether they’ve fallen short or smashed all their targets and predictions, find out how you can help your child to set their own standards – rather than be measured against others.
3. What are they like in class?
Speaking up in class can be scary for some kids, but if they’re chatterboxes at home, you wouldn’t always know. Likewise, your child could love entertaining their classmates with jokes during quiet study time! Parents' evenings are a great opportunity to go behind the scenes, and discuss what both you and the teacher can do to make sure your child feels confident and engaged at school.
4. Who are they friends with?
The social side of school can be just as important to your child’s development as the academic stuff, so don’t forget to ask about friendships too.
Who does your child sit with in class? Do they seem to get on with people? How are they with group activities and class discussions? It’s good to get a broad picture of how your child acts when you’re not around, to give them the best chance of growing into a happy, well-rounded person.
5. Sorry, what does that mean?
Don’t be embarassed to ask about any terms you don’t recognise, either from your child’s school report or during the conversation itself. From subject-specific jargon to levels and grades, the teacher should be happy to explain. They’re teachers, after all!
6. What can I do to help with my child’s learning when we’re at home?
From asking how long homework should take for that subject, to recommendations for apps, books, websites, and other learning resources, it’s always good to ask how you can help your child progress from home too. Teachers are knowledgeable people, so they’re sure to have some good suggestions.
Likewise, if there’s anything going on at home that might be affecting your child’s behaviour in school, it might be worth updating their teacher now – or asking to book in a separate meeting to discuss this further.
7. What are the next steps?
With lots of kids to review, your ten minutes of teacher chat are over in a flash! So before you leave, make sure you know how to follow up on what you’ve discussed.
Is another meeting or phone call needed to check progress with any agreed targets? Or can you grab them for 5 minutes at afternoon pick up?
Plus, if you think of any more questions once you get home (let’s face it, we all do that!) find out how or who to contact, so you can get them answered.
Remember, communication is key
After parents' evening, the first thing you should do is talk to your child.
If they were there in person, find out how they feel about what was said. If they weren’t, pass on any positive comments. Bring up any areas of concern second – it’s always nice to start with the good news first. Then you can discuss how you respond to the feedback together.
At Weduc, we bring parents, pupils and schools closer together