As term 1 comes to a close, schools will soon be hosting parent teacher interviews. These meetings are a valuable opportunity for parents to attain greater insight into their child’s progress, academically and socially.
Speaking one-on-one with teachers allows parents to canvass their child’s areas of strength and weakness and to coordinate effectively with the school to provide more support if needed. Parents can also discuss a range of issues that may be affecting a child’s school life beyond the classroom.
Parent teacher interviews are usually restricted to 10 or 15 minutes so it’s important to come prepared with questions that will elicit the most information in the shortest time.
Trinity Grammar recommends parents ask these three essential questions:
1. What are my child’s strengths?
To determine where they’re performing best and what their current level of achievement is.
2. Are there any areas of concern?
Not just academically but also behaviourally or emotionally.
3. What are the upcoming focus areas of the curriculum and how best can we support my child?
Clear goals make it easier for parents to work with teachers to help children achieve to the utmost of their ability.
Parents may also find it helpful to ask questions about specific aspects of their child’s schooling such as homework, discipline measures and school expectations around behaviour, uniform and punctuality.
This is an occasion for parents to forge a strong partnership with teachers and, where needed, formulate a plan to improve their child’s learning outcomes.
“The key to a successful interview is to make sure that you are prepared, listen to advice and finish with an agreed way forward,” The Scots College counsels. “While parents are occasionally not happy with the progress of their children, the importance of parent-teacher-student interviews cannot be underestimated, especially in kick starting a change in attitude or direction.”
The NSW Department of Education urges parents to make it a positive experience by highlighting children’s accomplishments and ensuring that they are on-board with any agreed academic or behavioural strategies: “It’s important to discuss the meeting with your child and really congratulate them on their strengths. If the teacher made suggestions of things you could do at home, discuss these with your child and commit to following through with them.”
Each child is different and parents will have varying concerns. Some parents may feel that attending the parent teacher interview is unnecessary as their child is doing quite well and there are no issues to raise with the school.
But parent teacher interviews aren’t only about addressing problems, they’re also about celebrating a child’s achievements and engagement in the school community.
As the NSW Department of Education warns: “If you don’t go to parent teacher interviews, you’re also missing out on the chance to hear really positive things about your child that they may not tell you themselves. It’s equally rewarding for teachers to share good news with a parent.”
No matter what a child’s situation, the parent teacher interview is a critical communications channel between school and family. Make the most of it to optimise your child’s chances of success.
Three essential questions to ask at parent teacher interviews – Trinity Grammar School, March 5, 2016
How to get the most out of parent teacher interviews – The Scots College, February 4, 2016
Parent teacher interviews – NSW Department of Education Schools A-Z website