Parents’ evening. That time of year again. The time when you can speak one-on-one with your child’s teacher to gain an even better understanding of their school experience.
Not everyone can attend. But assuming you can, what sort of things should you be doing to make the most of this opportunity?
1) Ask to see your child’s school books
Schools are understandably cautious in allowing children to take their books home. The fear of losing all that learning evidence behind an immovable cupboard keeps even the coolest teachers up at night. As a result, apart from the odd piece here and there, you rarely get the opportunity to see your child’s school work up close.
This is your opportunity to delve into their books and see for yourself the quality of work your child is producing at school. You’ll probably find an amazing piece of work that you have not been made aware of yet! What sort of investigations have they been doing in maths? Are they taking pride in what they produce? Checking to see whether your child is using the squares in their maths book appropriately can help to indicate their overall level of engagement.
2) Is there a particular area of the curriculum your child needs help with?
This is an opportunity to find out if there is a particular area they could do with a boost in. This may particularly be the case with maths. In order to get that all important ‘fluency’ the national curriculum demands, there are a few areas your child needs to be comfortable with. If you don’t already know, ask about their use of times tables, the four operations, fractions, decimals and percentages.
Ensuring these areas are secure will make their mathematical life a lot easier.
3) Speak to your child’s teacher about your child’s general engagement
They may have produced amazing pieces of work, but what is their overall engagement like? It’s all about ensuring your child reaches their full potential to become a rounded individual. Education is about more than just learning and using their times tables, it includes emotional and cultural development too. Are they getting the most out of what school has to offer? You’ll probably already be aware if there are serious issues here, but check to see what the teacher thinks.
4) Check to see if there are activities you could be doing at home to further assist your child’s learning
You will have encouraged them to do their homework and participate in other activities the school recommends. However, class teachers may have other recommendations up their sleeve. For example, gaining an understanding of what is coming up next term may help your child to feel more prepared for the content. Schools often ‘pre-teach’ concepts, particularly in maths, to ensure that all children are on a level playing field when they come round to studying the concept in earnest. Check to see if you can help with this.
5) Let the teacher know about any changing circumstances at home that could impact your child’s engagement
It’s always helpful for the teacher to be aware of information that could impact on engagement in class. You may already be on top of this, but this is the perfect opportunity to inform them of something happening at home/ in the family that might be relevant. This will enable school staff to support your child appropriately if required.
6) Speak to the Headteacher about the school & any queries you have
The headteacher has a huge role to play in setting the culture of the school. Their leadership sets the tone through which everything else occurs. Therefore, having a good working relationship with them will help you understand more about school life and anything you can do to assist. Is there a maths week coming up? What sort of activities can you help prepare for?
7) Walk round the school building (if you are permitted to do so)
Walk round the school to get an idea of the building your child spends a lot of their time in. This will give you a feel for the place and bring back any old memories. It may also facilitate conversations with other parents, helping to establish relationships that contribute to the school community. Most schools have displays that help children to consolidate and celebrate their learning. Surveying a maths ‘working wall’ will give an indication of what the class has been covering in maths recently and demonstrate what teacher modelling has occurred.
Finally, you may as well take advantage of any refreshments the school has on offer. You’ll have to wait until the summer fayre before you can have more refreshments at school & you’ll probably have to pay for those!
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