Education Eye: Parents – max out the benefit and minimise your pain

Catherine Stoker
Catherine Stoker

Parents’ evenings can be uplifting and challenging experiences in equal measure. It’s important to plan your time carefully to ensure maximum benefit with least pain.

Speak to your child about challenges they may be experiencing before you go. Using their last school report is a useful reference for discussion.

If time is limited, focus on key areas such as maths, science and English.

If your child is arranging your schedule, make sure they book appointments with all teachers and not just ones who will be full of praise. It’s appealing to hear about areas of triumph; however it’s just as important to find out where they may be struggling and discuss what support is needed.

Prioritise time with their tutor, head of year or houseparent.

They have a good overview of progress in all academic areas, as well as socially and across the value-added curriculum.

They will make suggestions as to the important teachers for you to see and what you might discuss with them.

If no booking system is in place, queues can be long. If two parents can attend, perhaps divide to conquer.

Take notes for reference afterwards.

If parents are no longer together, make an effort to put differences aside in support of your child’s educational benefit.

If this is not possible, ask the school if separate appointments are an option.

Appointments are short so put time to best use.

If your child is struggling, ask the key reasons why and how you might support at home, as well as what the school might be doing to assist. If you don’t finish your conversation with a teacher, make arrangements to meet another day.

Spend time with your child afterwards. Give praise for areas where they’re doing well.

Discuss areas that are not going so well and strategies to remedy this, as well as encouraging them to ask for help when needed.

Goal setting is a useful exercise to measure success of strategies agreed to address areas of difficulty.