Most schools have parents evening twice a year. One at the beginning of the academic year (October) when the teacher is just getting to know your child and one at the end (July) when it is often too late to address any concerns. So it is important that you go well prepared. I always go with a pen and paper so that I can jot down notes and inevitably lose the notes! So now, if it’s a lot to write down, then I ask the teacher to email me a set of targets for my child. It should be easy to do for the teacher and I always go back to those notes to refresh my memory. This way we work together and at the end of the year/term I can review the progress made myself.
You don’t have to ask all 10 questions, just pick the ones relevant to you.
Here are some questions to ask:
Is my child happy at school? Isn’t it lovely when you see your child looks forward to school. Happy children make happy learners, so it’s important that if your child isn’t happy, that you find out why. Maybe the teacher isn’t aware? Maybe you aren’t aware?
What is my child’s attitude to learning? I think children fall into 3 categories of learning. First the reluctant learner, who will do anything to avoid doing the work. Second the child who works well, but isn’t really working to their potential. Thirdly the high achiever/the workaholic who gives 101% in lessons and homework. Which category does your child fit into?
Can he/she make friends easily? The social skills learnt at school are just as important as the academic achievement. If your child is shy, or hasn’t been able to make long-lasting friendships, then do the school have strategies in place to help your child with these difficulties?
Does he/she contribute to class discussions? How important is it that your child puts their hand up when they know the answer? What does this say about your child? If they know the answer but do not volunteer, is it a fear of being wrong? Is it lack of confidence?
What does my child enjoy doing? Does my child prefer practical subjects (eg P.E, art, Design Tech), sciences (eg maths, science, geography) or humanities (history, English)?
What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses? Ask the teacher to give you specific examples. In english it could be that your child doesn’t write enough or is slow and in maths it could be something like not understanding division.
How can I help at home? You might be helping with homework already, but if you want to support the work done at school, then ask the teacher to suggest activities for you. I always recommend that children read daily before going to bed. This should not be the school reading book. It’s easy for parents to implement and easy for the children to do as there are fewer distractions at bedtime.
Is he/she at the right/expected level for his/her age group? If your child is on the SEN register, then ask to see their IEP (Individual Education Plan). If you are worried about your child having learning difficulties then bring this up as well. If your child is getting extra support at school then ask for details so that you know exactly what is being done to help your child.
For older children ask about any outstanding work and when school exams are. Many schools have parent information evenings for year 11 students to inform parents about the exams, the different types of assessments and revision classes. A lot of Luton schools this year are open for an extra lesson at the end of the school day for the year 11’s. They use this time to catch up on missed work and to revise for the GCSE’s.
How much homework should my child be getting? So many parents I speak to say that their child does not get homework. All schools should have a homework policy and will set homework. Check on the school website if in doubt. But parent’s evening is the ideal opportunity to ask about this. My son started the first week of school saying that he had 10 pieces of homework to do that week. I only saw him do 2 pieces so when I questioned him, he said that he had done the rest at school. I looked in his homework diary (which I have to sign every week) and a lot of the homeworks were to read up on the lessons work or to make notes on class work. So his idea of “reading up” was to flick through the pages of his books. I flagged this in the homework diary and asked his teacher to explain that “reading up” requires more effort.
The purpose of parent’s evening is to get a clear picture of your child at school. You should aim to form a working partnership with your child’s teachers. Keep communication open and regular and don’t just rely on parent’s evening to express your views. If something is bothering you, talk to the teacher, write a note, send an email but DO NOT ignore it.
If you’ve already been to parent’s evening and realise that your child could do with some extra help in English or Maths, then give us a call. 01582 402225.