Parent-teacher meetings provide a tremendous opportunity for you. Use the time wisely to gather practical information about your child’s performance and behaviour to enhance their learning experience.
* Pre-plan questions and write them down in a notebook
* Record the teacher’s responses
* Check each question off when answered
* Always ask for examples when words such as ‘better than the last term’, ‘much improved’, ‘having
difficulty’, ‘poor social skills’ – I think you get the idea.
* Be courteous to your child’s teacher. S/he is your advocate within the education system.
Your listening skills are a powerful tool to glean information. Ask questions for clarifications. If you are getting lost with all the information, consider asking for examples to gain clarification. A simple statement will alert the speaker that you are carefully listening and slow down. Let's remember that you are one of many, many parents that the teacher will speak to that day. Parent-teacher meetings are challenging and taxing for both the teacher and you, the parent.
The following provides a selection of questions that your child’s teacher will probably cover. There may not be enough time allotted to answer all questions, therefore, consider prioritising them. Ask the teacher if you can email unanswered questions or can a future meeting convenient to both parties be arranged.
1. What are my child’s strengths?
This is positive information to be celebrated with your child. Ask for specific examples. Of course, insights that the teacher provides are insights about both your child and also insights about the teacher. Responses to this question will indicate many things such as:
o How well do they know your child?
o How easily can they provide examples of praisable behaviours.
2. What are your areas of concern regarding my child?
This information may reflect some of your concerns. This is a good time to exchange insights and strategies that can be useful both at home and at school. You could explore following four points:
o How does my child interact with you?
The teacher’s response provides initial insight into their relationship with your child.
o Does my child follow instructions?
Does your child listen to the teacher and follow instructions? Does she put work away when asked?
Does she follow in a line or other rules as requested?
o How do you administer discipline?
The consistency of disciplinary tactics between teacher and parent helps the child learn consequences and
avoids a child believing she can act differently with different authority figures.
o Does my child complete assigned work?
Does your child finish which she starts?
Further details include:
If she is asked to complete a project, does she finish it or become bored easily?
What is her attention span?
Can your child follow complex instructions (two or more steps...first this, then that)?
Note: Perhaps, your child needs additional explanation or prefers a particular teaching style. These discussions can help identify techniques to create success in both the classroom and home.
Your insights into your child’s behaviour, particularly strategies that work, will be helpful to share with the teacher.
4. What are my child’s strongest subjects?
Responses can provide you with insights that may lead to further questions. For example: Why is my child strong in art but not reading? Why math but not creative writing?
o What is my child’s performance in comparison to same year students?
5. What skills should my child master by the school year end?
While every child is different, there are essential skills and developmental milestones within each age
group. Use the key stages outlined on a previous report card as reference.
If you are confused by Key Stages, you are not alone. Ask us about them, and we can explain them in a future blog.
6. What is my child’s dominant learning style?
This question will grab every teacher’s attention. Remember to note if a specific learning modality is mentioned such as auditory (hearing), visual (seeing) or kinestheticPay particular attention to which learning modalities* are suggested (auditory/hearing, visual/seeing, kinesthetic/moving tactile/touching).
6. Describe my child’s social interaction in the classroom and how she handles social conflict.
o Does my child share with others?
o Does my child take turns?
The answer to this question helps parents to learn their child's basic social skills with same-age friends, particularly if the the child has no siblings for the parent to compare learning gains wtih.
o Does my child find a work partner in class/ in sports easily?
o Does my child work well within a small group contributing (giving and receiving information)?
o How does my child handle disappointment and stress? For example: Does she become upset when they
get the answer wrong.
*LEARNING STYLES/ MODALITIES
Most students learn using all four modalities to understand their surrounding environment and learn from it. Commonly some modalities are more dominant and others weaker.
Examples: When the student is
o particularly good at remembering instructions said to him but has difficulty reading directions and following
through is an indication of an auditory learner.
o learns best when written instructions or explanations are provided is an indication of a visual learner.
o learns best when active on the sports field is an indication of a kinesthetic learner when making
something such as building a structure but does not excel in reading or listening for information this is an indication of a visual learner.
Learning modalities is a complex area to understand. Many people experience several dominant modalities rather than just one. Some experience a lovely integration of all. If you are concerned about your child's learning style, tell your child's teacher. Do they also have similar questions and concerns? If so, consider requesting an educational assessment.
Knowing how your child prefers to learn and to process information is essential. This information will help you to understand what are the best strategies to boost their learning style and learning potential both at school and at home.
In traditional classrooms, it is typical for information to be delivered verbally. A child will respond differently depending on their auditory skills to understand, assimilate and remember new information. Verbal delivery of information becomes the more typical style of teaching the older the student is. Visual, kinesthetic and tactile modalities also play critical roles in adolescent lives. Congratulation your child's teacher, if your child’s school experience incorporates all four learning styles.