Tips for parent-teacher meetings

10 February 2016

Tips for parent-teacher meetings

by Michael Grose

The first formal meeting with your child’s teacher at the start of the year is a chance for you to introduce yourself and get the partnership ball rolling with your child’s teacher to benefit your child. This meeting is likely to be tightly scheduled so be ready to make the most of this time you have with teachers.

These essential tips will make sure you maximise this valuable opportunity

List important points before you go

Spend five minutes prior to the meeting listing two or three questions, or jotting down any information about your child that you’d like the teacher to know. This simple preparation will ensure that you don’t forget to pass on must-know information to the teachers.

Attend with a partner or friend

If you are nervous about the meeting then consider attending with your partner or a friend. It’s easy to miss key points when you are on your own and it’s difficult to relay information accurately to a partner. Two sets of ears are generally better than one.

Make a good impression – be friendly and positive

Make a good impression on your child’s teacher by adopting a friendly, positive demeanour. Greet them with a warm smile and a culturally-appropriate greeting and be mindful that they may be a little nervous themselves.

Be lead by your child’s teacher

You may have plenty of things to say but sit back and let your child’s teacher steer the meeting. Many information gathering parent-teacher meetings have gone off track because over-enthusiastic parents have railroaded them.

Take notes and clarify information you don’t understand

Take a notepad with you so you can make a note of important points. Be prepared to clarify any information your teacher passes on that you don’t understand. It’s counter-productive to leave with more questions than when you arrived.

Be prepared to discuss your goals for the year

Think about your aspirations for your child for the coming year. If you are not asked directly be prepared to share the goals you have for your child this year before you leave.

These goals and aspirations may be:

  • academic (“I’d love him to improve his spelling”)
  • social (“She’s struggled making friends in the past so this year I’m hoping she makes two or three good friends.”)
  • related to their behaviour (“I’m really working on teaching her to rein in her temper. I’m hoping you can help her with that this year.”)

Help your child’s teacher build their family knowledge

Be prepared to pass on essential family details such as your family circumstances (single parent family, step family etc.); your child’s birth position; your preferred contact details and work arrangements. This information will help the teacher form a more rounded picture of your child.

Be prepared to give an assessment about how your child has settled in

Be ready to give a brief assessment about how you think your child has settled in at school this year. Don’t expect your child’s teacher to provide an assessment of early progress more than “he or she seems to have settled in well”. An accurate assessment of your child’s progress comes later in the year.

Pass on what they need to know

Don’t leave the meeting without telling teachers important information about your child’s health, family circumstances or behaviour that’s likely to impact significantly on your child’s well-being or learning during the year. Don’t leave it to June to tell a teacher that you think your child may have some mental health issues. Such concerns need to be raised at the start of the year so your child’s teacher can factor this in to their teaching.

Follow-up with a thank you phone call or email

Cement your relationship by being one of the few parents that follow-up parent-teacher meetings with phone call or emails of gratitude for the way the meeting was conducted or even the interest the teacher showed in you and your child.

In closing

Research supports the fact that a strong parent-teacher partnership is one of the main keys to your child’s success at school. This meeting hopefully will be the start of a fruitful and happy relationship with your child’s teacher over the coming year.

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Michael Grose

Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s an award-winning speaker and the author of 12 books for parents including Spoonfed Generation, and the bestselling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It. Michael is a former teacher with 15 years experience, and has 30 years experience in parenting education. He also holds a Master of Educational Studies from Monash University specialising in parenting education.