Teacher Sally Irwin offers parents tips to maximize the benefit of parent-teacher interviews and suggests effective ways to promote your child's development at school.
Here are Irwin's five main points for parents going to a parent-teacher interview.
Don't make the first parent-teacher interview a time to introduce yourself to the teacher. This should not be a first meeting. Make sure you have met and spoken to your child's teacher at the beginning of the school year so that you have already built up a rapport. Then you can use this time to start strategizing and forming solutions for your child.
It's important for you to go into the interview with a positive attitude. Stress not just what the student has been doing poorly on, but what he or she has accomplished as well. Find positive solutions and strategies for working with weaknesses in your child. If there is a situation where a teacher is not communicative, or you have the sense that they do not like your child, address this now and be up front. Remain calm; try to redirect any negativity and keep communicating.
3. No secrets
Ask if you can bring your child along to the parent-teacher interview. This way all three of you can discuss the elements that are affecting your child at school. If the teacher is not comfortable with your child attending, discuss your child's report card with your child.
4. Realistic goals
Make realistic goals with the teacher that will help your child with his or her academics. It is more useful to try and work on three things than try to change 10 habits. Ask how you as the parent can assist at home. It is not good enough to just "check homework." Ask the teacher for concrete examples of things you can do at home to help your child. It also helps to ask not only about academics but about how your child is doing socially, as this affects his or her school life as well.
5. Follow through
Just because you've gone to one parent-teacher interview or your child is doing well doesn't mean your duties as a parent are done. Keep coming to meetings. Stay involved with the school, volunteer and participate in school activities, keep in touch with your child's teacher and follow through with the goals that you and the teacher have set with the child.
How to get the whole picture
If you want to get an A+ during your next parent-teacher interview, consider asking some of the following questions, recommended by seasoned teachers, to help you discover how your child is really doing.
• On the basis of your experience, is my child operating at grade level in reading, writing, math, and so on?
• If not, is there something I have to worry about? Is it likely that she'll catch up when the spirit moves her?
• What are you doing in math, science, history and so on these days? What specific things do you think I might do to help my son better understand what you're working on?
• On the basis of your experience, what general learning problems (if any) does my child have? What can I do to help her work out these problems?
• How many tests, essays and projects is this grade based on?
• Is my child enjoying school?
• What are his most favourite and least favourite subjects? Why?
• What is my child like as a classmate?
• How many years have you taught and at what grades?
• Can you show me an example of work by another student that is closer to what you're looking for?
• What are your expectations of my child for the coming term?
• Is my child a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner? Does she know that?
• I work full time. Is there some way in which I can still help out in the classroom?
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