It’s back-to-school time! That means it’s time for new backpacks, new classmates, new teachers… and parent-teacher interviews! You will get the most out of this meeting if you approach it as an opportunity to build a partnership with your child’s teacher — one that lasts all school year long.
Here we have collected some expert advice on effective questions to ask at your parent-teacher interview:
Information About Your Child
Start the conversation by talking about the most important topic: your child.
May I Tell You About My Child?
No one knows your child better than you do, so it’s your job to help your child’s teacher learn more. Provide your child’s teacher with more information on what motivates your child, likes and dislikes, special skills, strengths and weaknesses.
May I Tell You About What’s Going on at Home?
Situations like illness, divorce or a new baby may affect your child’s school experience, so inform your child’s teacher of such circumstances.
How Is My Child Doing Socially?
How the child interacts and functions socially in the classroom is a topic that should be addressed at parents’ evening, so inquire about their peer relations.
How Is My Child Doing Emotionally?
It’s also important to ask about your child’s emotional health at school. For example, is your child generally happy?
In What Areas Does My Child Need Improvement?
Your child’s teacher sees them from a different perspective than you do. Ask the teacher what personal weaknesses your child needs to work on, and listen to the response with an open mind.
What Do You Think My Child Is Particularly Good at?
Find out about the good stuff, too. Ask about personal strengths that will extend beyond school.
Now move onto more school-specific questions.
Is My Child’s Performance on Track?
At parents’ evening, you should expect to see examples of your child’s work. Ask how this compares to Key Stage level expectations, but don’t try to compare your child to other students. Each child is different and has different strengths and learning abilities.
What Do These Assessment Results Really Mean?
When it comes to standardised testing and other assessment results, you shouldn’t feel bad about asking ‘What does this really mean?’. Increasingly, assessments are given for school-level progress-monitoring purposes, and it’s best not to get too worked up about precisely interpreting every detail.
Is My Child Doing Their Best?
No matter where your child ranks in relation to the class average, one important analysis of their performance is whether they’re putting forth their best effort. Does the teacher get the sense that your child is being lazy or not focusing?
Does My Child Need Extra Help in Any Areas?
Your child’s teacher can tell you if your child is falling behind in a skill or a subject. Armed with that information, you can create a plan with your child to work harder in that area, before it gets too late.
What Can We Do to Provide That Extra Help?
Work together with your child’s teacher to create a plan to help your child progress. There may be specific things that you can do at home to help, such as hiring a tutor or helping with homework.
If your child has special needs, ask need-specific questions.
Have You Read the IEP?
All students who receive special education or related services must have an Individualised Education Program in place, which outlines the goals for that child’s schooling and how those goals are to be achieved. It’s important therefore to ask and make sure the teacher is fully briefed on your child’s IEP.
What Accommodations Are Being Made for My Child?
Inquire early in the school year about how the IEP is being carried out.
What Is the School’s Process for Dealing With Special Needs?
If your child doesn’t yet have an IEP, ask about the timeline and what the review and assessment process involves. After discussing this with your child’s teacher, ask in writing to initiate that process, so you’re not put off.
If your child is having problems in school or with the teacher, address them head-on.
May I Share a Concern?
If you’re worried about a situation at school, you should bring it up with the teacher. Teachers usually appreciate when parents bring an issue to their attention, as long as it’s done with respect.
Can You Fill Me in on This Situation?
When your child has complaints about what’s going on at school, you should ask for clarification from the teacher. If you’ve only been hearing your child’s side of the story, there is often more to it.
Can You Tell Me About Your Teaching Method?
If you have an issue with the teaching method your child’s teacher employs, ask them for more information to help you understand it and how it helps your child. You could also ask what they can and will do if the method does not work with your child specifically.
Do You Have Any Advice?
If your child is going through an issue with something, it is a good idea to ask their teacher for input. After all, they’ve probably worked with dozens or hundreds of students, and may have some useful advice.
End the evening with these useful queries.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Help?
You could ask if there’s anything you can do to help support the teacher in the classroom. There might be supplies you can purchase, prep work you can do at home or other ways you can assist in the classroom.
How Can I Contact You?
It’s good to know how to get in touch with your child’s teacher, so find out whether he or she prefers emails, phone calls or written notes.
Get ready for parent-teacher interviews by making a list of the questions you want to ask. A prepared parent with a positive attitude and an open mind is on the right track for creating a successful, year-long partnership with their child’s teacher.