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Making the most of parent and teacher meetings

by David Goodwin, Principal of  Britannica International School Shanghai

How to discuss your child’s progress with their teacher

Making the most of parent and teacher meetings

Parent-teacher meetings can all too often end up with parents having no clear idea of how their children are doing at school. Careful pre-planning by both the teachers and the parents needs to be executed to ensure that maximum use of the allocated time in each parent-teacher discussion is made. 

Teachers at Britannica are required to have exercise books, assessment records, examples of pupils work and text books being used, all at hand to support any discussion with a parent and pre-empt any specific questions that they may have about their child’s progress. In addition, the small class sizes and personalised approach to learning means that staff at the school can talk informatively about each child’s pastoral and holistic development. 

Parents need to plan questions to ask before they go to a meeting with teachers. As well as questions specifically about what their child is achieving, what their strengths and what their weaknesses are, the parent should be asking how they can support their child at home. Good education is a collaborative arrangement between home and school and it is important that the parents and teachers are agreed and understand how they can best support each other in supporting the child. 

Parent-teacher meeting schedules are often tight with regards to time; being late for a meeting will often mean that discussions are rushed or stressful.  It is also advised that parents do not waste the precious meeting time by asking for information that they could readily find out by other means – the curriculum studied, calendar events, school policies etc, which can often be easily found on the school’s website or through other school literature. Instead, parents should focus their questions specifically on their child and their child’s achievements and their child’s needs. 

For discussions that need longer time, for example if the child is having a particular problem, then good schools will always be happy to make additional appointments for parents. Parents should never be afraid to ask for one of these, if they are left at the end of the parent-teacher conversation needing more information or greater clarity on the way forward.