Parent-teacher interviews are an opportunity to find out more about their child’s academic, emotional and social development at school. However, many parents – and teachers – find them a daunting experience. Both parties may feel nervous about meeting each other, and parents and carers often feel unsure about how to approach the meeting and the right questions to ask.
The importance of parent-teacher interviews
Attending your school’s parent-teacher interviews shows your child and their teacher that you’re interested in your child’s learning and their overall experience at school. These meetings are a chance for to learn more about your child’s progress at school and help your child’s teachers to understand your child. They’re also a great opportunity to:
- Get to know your child’s teachers and open the lines of communication
- Gain insight into class interactions and your child’s strengths and weaknesses
- Learn more about the school’s programs and learning methods
- Discuss with teachers how you can both best support your child
- Get on top of any issues early to prevent them from growing into more significant problems
- Build a stronger relationship with your child’s school
A bit of pre-planning will help you get the most value from parent-teacher interviews. Before you meet with your child’s teachers, think about any specific areas you’d like to discuss or concerns you might have about your child’s progress. Asking targeted questions is key to a successful parent-teacher interview; consider the following questions when preparing for your interview.
Top questions to ask at parent-teacher interviews
1. How is my child doing at school?
Even if you’ve already received your child’s report, speaking with their teachers will give you a better sense of their progress and any areas of concern, and empower you to work with teachers and the school to support your child’s learning.
2. What are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
Understanding your child’s strengths and weaknesses means you’re better placed to support them. Ask teachers to speak to their talents and areas for development and discuss how you may be able to help with any weaknesses identified.
3. Is my child engaged? Do they contribute to class discussions?
While every student has subjects they enjoy more than others, it’s important that they’re engaged in all classes as this will affect the effectiveness of their learning. Ask teachers about your child’s effort level, whether they contribute to class discussions and enjoy the subject.
4. How does my child interact with other students?
Social skills play a vital role in children’s emotional health and wellbeing, so it’s a good idea to ask teachers about how your child interacts with others. Check that your child gets along with classmates and is happy in their social environment.
5. How does my child’s performance compare with previous years?
Understanding how your child is performing compared with previous assessment periods is crucial to understanding where they’re at with their learning and whether any further support is needed.
6. Does my child need any learning support?
If your child needs special support to get the most out of their time at school, the teacher will explain the options available. You may need to meet with the school counsellor or psychologist to explore this further.
7. What can I do at home to support my child’s education?
Your child’s education is a partnership – ask teachers what you can do at home to support their learning. This could be anything from helping your child with their homework to reading with them at bedtime. Even if your child is doing well in a subject, taking an interest in what they’re focusing on will encourage them to further their learning.
After your parent-teacher interview
Make sure you’ve asked everything you want to ask and you understand any advice teachers have provided. Take notes if you need to. If you didn’t have time for all your questions, you might want to schedule a second interview or follow up with a phone call or email.
Parent-teacher interviews are an invaluable opportunity to gain an insight into your child’s education, communicate with their teachers and develop a better understanding of how you can support your child’s learning. Some preparation before your interview will allow you to get the most out of this important meeting.