School and what happens there can be a mystery to many. From that moment when we drop our son/daughter off at the bus stop or playground, we really do not know what happens for the next 5+ hours. Whether it be a formal conference or a casual conversation, your interaction with your child’s teacher(s) is the key to understanding their experience at school. Here are five tips to ensure you get the most from your meetings.
Get the Most from Parent-Teacher Meetings
- Prepare in Advance
The best way to get your questions answered is to write them down in advance and bring them to your meeting. Pin a paper on your bulletin board and write down any questions that come up in the weeks prior to your meeting. Use these as talking points for your conversation.
- Don’t Just Ask About Academics
Your child’s academic progress will be monitored through report cards and progress reports. The teacher will have pages of assessments, feedback, and learning skills to help you get a sense of where your son/daughter’s strengths and growing points are. BUT, don’t stop there. Make sure that you ask specifically about their social/interpersonal skills, ability to make friends, and character traits your son/daughter is exhibiting at school. The teacher has a special and unique window into your child’s emotional intelligence and social skills that we don’t often get to observe as parents.
- Clarify Expectations
Whether it be a daily agenda or monthly homework log, your teacher has expectations of how you will engage with your son/daughter at home. Do you have questions? Are you unclear about something? Bring those questions to the meeting so that you and the teacher are on the same page for expectations.
- Make a Communication Plan
If you are looking for ongoing communication, give your teacher your email address and ask if they would prefer email to contact you. The teacher might prefer email because it can be sent at any time of day. If that doesn’t work, or your school doesn’t permit email, set up a regular meeting or communication log to ensure that lines of communication are kept open but only if that is in the best interest of the student. If you are just looking for reassurance from the teacher that your child is fine it might be best to go with a ‘no news is good news’ policy.
- Get Involved
Ask the teacher about how you can get involved in your school/child’s classroom. Volunteer, organize a fundraiser or donate supplies that are needed. Find out ways you can continue the learning at home by asking about educational apps and websites that are helpful for your son/daughter’s age group. Being active in your child’s education is important – making a partnership with your son/daughter’s teacher invaluable. Find a way you can get involved that fits your schedule.
And finally, bask in the glory of having a child(ren) in school and pat yourself on the back for letting your child(ren) go out into the world to learn, make mistakes, and grow.