Although often dreaded by parents and students, parent-teacher interviews give you a rare insight into how your child is doing school. Unfortunately, most parents go into these meetings unprepared and often don’t ask the right questions, which could help them to shed light on the performance of the child.
If you’re keen on following the progress of your child in school, it is about time you paid more attention to these interview meetings.
What are Parent-Teacher Interviews?
Through the course of your child’s education in primary and high school, you will be invited to your fair share of parent-teacher interviews, which are also called short meetings.
The meeting often takes place once or twice a year, and contrary to what most parents believe, being invited to this meeting doesn’t always mean there’s a problem. Instead, these meetings are a great opportunity for you to explore your child’s progress in school and also understand their challenges.
Consider these interviews as one of the many talks you’re going to have with your child’s teachers in a bid to stay involved in their academic life.
Granted, these interviews can be challenging for parents, especially if you’re meeting the teachers for the first time. But rest assured that teachers are just as nervous as you are when sitting for these meetings.
However, you shouldn’t see the teachers as adversaries. Instead, you should try to work with them, and together, you can make a formidable front that provides your child with the support they need to achieve academic excellence.
Why Should You Go To Parent-Teacher Interviews?
Most parents don’t get the essence of going to parent-teacher interviews. Others believe the meetings often address something wrong at school, usually a disciplinary case. On the contrary, these interviews are a great way to find out more about how your child has been doing in school.
The meetings are essential, especially if you have teenagers who prefer not to talk about what is happening at school. Teachers spend a significant amount of time with the children and can easily observe how your child behaves and develops. During the interview, the teachers can share what they have seen. These meetings can also help you in various ways, including;
- Meet and get to know the teachers behind your child’s success
- In case there are challenges, discuss with the teachers how you can support the child
- Build relations with the child’s school
- Help the teachers get to know your child better.
Should You Bring the Child With You?
Although these are called parent-teacher interviews, it is highly recommended to bring your child along, especially if they are in secondary school. For younger students, you can use your judgment.
For some schools, it is the expectation that students should attend, while in others, they make it optional. Bringing older students along is often beneficial, although they are often nervous at first. They feel better being a part of the conversation, and it instils a sense of responsibility for their learning.
How to Prepare for the Interview
Most parents are overwhelmed by the idea of meeting the teachers who come prepared with assessment results and a list of classroom concerns. For parents, it feels like walking into an ambush. But you also have some preparation of your own to do.
Start by reading your child’s school report carefully. If possible, note down some of the points you would like to discuss with the teacher. You can also compile a list of questions to ask. Take the list with you to help you stay on track.
What Questions Should You Ask?
While you prepare questions of your own, you should also be prepared to answer some from the teacher. Most teachers will most likely ask questions related to “Do you know what we’ve been doing in class?” This is the teacher’s way of trying to understand how engaged you are with your child’s academics.
When it’s your turn, you can ask any questions you have. If you don’t have any, here are a few that can help you cover as much ground as possible.
- How is my child doing in a specific class or subject?
- What is my child most interested in, and what are his strengths?
- Are there any areas my child struggles with, or do you have any concerns with?
- Is there anything I can do to support my child’s learning at home?
- How does my child participate or respond in the class environment?
- Does my child get along well with other students? Who do they work best with?
- Are there any available support services for my child at this school? If so, what are they?
It’s important to organise your questions to keep the conversation on track. They will also make sure you have a meaningful conversion around your child’s academic progress.
Parent-Teacher Interview Tips
It’s normal to feel nervous when attending a parent-teacher interview. In most cases, you don’t know what to expect. However, these few tips will help break the ice and ensure you get as much progress as possible from the meeting.
First, you need to keep the conversation open and friendly. Starting with positive communication with the teacher shows respect and appreciation for what the teacher is doing.
Avoid being defensive at all costs, even when you disagree with feedback about your child. Listen carefully and attentively and respond thoughtfully.
If you don’t understand anything, you can ask the teacher to explain or clarify some for if you don’t understand what is being said.
If you have any concerns, try to be specific but avoid blame. Combine your requests with understanding by mentioning something positive at the same time. This alleviates the feeling of blame and defensiveness and ensures that you both express yourselves freely for the benefit of the child.
Most parents consider parent-teacher interviews as more of a stare-down that is mainly dominated by the teacher. However, this shouldn’t be the case. It should be more of a discussion between the two and possibly your child to address how best to support your child academically. It helps to do a little homework and know what to ask the teacher or highlight any potential concerns that you might have.