We’ve spoken to parents to find out what they think about parents’ evenings. Here’s what they said.
It’s the final half term of the school year which means exams, Sports Day, the slow slide into the school holidays and parents’ evenings. We asked our parent community for their parents’ evenings bugbears as well as what’s really good about meeting teachers.
Getting the conversation started
If you’re faced with a teacher who stares at you and hopes you’ll do all the talking, it’s not necessarily a bad sign. A quiet teacher doesn’t necessarily translate as a bad teacher, it just means they’re probably more comfortable talking to your kids than you. One parent said:
‘If your child is enjoying their lessons with them, it’s better to have a good teacher than a good parents’ evening performer.’
Our tip for this situation? Have a question up your sleeve to get the conversation started. ‘Does my child need support in any area?’ is a good one.
Teachers and targets
Some teachers are as much in the dark as the parents about new targets and exams.
‘Mine are at secondary and understanding the levels does my head in! Plus it’s all so target focused it’s hard to have a discussion about holistic progress.’
We advise that, while this can be unsettling, it’s also a good opportunity to talk more broadly about your child beyond academic performance.
Are my kids happy at school?
Many of you want to hear more about your child’s social integration and happiness as much as grades.
‘I want to hear about my son’s well-being more than anything, and couldn’t give a fudge about his academic prowess or lack of it. I want to know he’s happy and supported!’
Another parent wrote:
‘My key questions are: is he happy? Does he have friends? What can I be doing at home to support what you’re doing at school? Anything else is a bonus!’
You’ll know what your priorities are when talking to your child’s teacher, but chances are, if they are happy and well supported at school, they will be making good progress academically.
Catch up with teaching staff
‘Parents’ evenings are the only times I get to hear directly from the teachers and get an overall summary of how my sons are doing and I go with them as I want them to hear what the teacher thinks about them as an individual and not collectively as a class’, wrote one parent. She added ‘I just wish it could be more frequent but also understand teachers are busy enough at school as it is!’
Your time with your child’s teachers is limited, so make sure you plan ahead which teachers you will be seeing, and any specific questions you’ll want to talk to them about.
And finally, a teacher’s view
Of course, teachers are often parents themselves.
‘When I was a teacher, I’d get very nervous before parents evenings but always enjoyed them, as it was a time to celebrate children’s achievement and get extra insight into how to help those who were struggling. I was completely wiped out afterwards though. A day of teaching plus three hours talking is a very tiring day.’
Maybe parents’ evenings should only ever be on a Thursday, so teachers only have one day to do before the weekend — and a chance to recover!
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