Parents Guide to Surviving Parents' Evening 

By Bethany Spencer on May, 4 2017
Estimated time to read: 5 minutes

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Parents’‭ ‬evening can be a stressful event for teachers and parents alike‭. ‬According to a survey of 2,000‭ ‬school parents in the UK‭, ‬55%‭ ‬felt they came away from parents’‭ ‬evening without a clear understanding of how their child was progressing‭. ‬However‭, ‬with a little preparation and a clear idea of what you want to get out of the event‭. ‬Parents’‭ ‬evenings are extremely valuable and you can maximise the effectiveness of the time you get with your child’s teachers‭. ‬Parents evening  survival guide

Before Parents’‭ ‬Evening‭

Decide who is going to go

In a survey by Leapfrog‭, ‬it was found that two thirds of parents have been unable to attend a meeting because of work commitments‭ - ‬and one in three fathers believe that going to a Parents’‭ Evening is a job for their partner‭. ‬If it’s possible‭, ‬both parents attending will show your child’s teacher that you are both actively involved‭, ‬and taking an interest‭, ‬in their education‭. ‬If one parent is going alone‭, ‬it can‭ ‬help to bring a friend or relative so you can discuss the feedback together‭. ‬

It is also important to decide whether or not your child will be attending‭. ‬There are conflicting theories on this‭, ‬with some schools now suggesting that bringing your child along can help them take more responsibility for their education‭. ‬While others claim it can also impede you being able to have a frank and honest conversation with your child’s teacher‭. ‬You as a parent know best whether or not your child should attend Parents’‭ ‬Evening‭, ‬speak to your child about this and together you can come to a decision that will work best for you both‭.‬

Speak to your child

It is important to get an idea of how your child feels they are performing before you speak to their teachers‭. ‬You might want to‭ ‬get their views‭, ‬subject-by-subject‭, ‬and find out if there’s anything they would like you to bring up to their teachers‭. ‬This will also be useful to gauge how accurate a picture your child has of their progress‭.‬

Prepare questions

More than three quarters of parents arrive at Parents’‭ ‬Evenings without having made any preparations about what information they want‭. ‬The above survey also found that the average time a parent gets to spend with a teacher at Parents’‭ ‬Evening is thirteen minutes‭. ‬This means that parents can leave a hurried meeting feeling bewildered‭, ‬so it is vital to prepare‭ ‬some questions to make the most out of the brief window you have‭. ‬

Ask about your child’s strengths and weaknesses‭: ‬The main message at Parents’‭ ‬Evenings are about attempting to establish or improve the parent-teacher-school partnership‭. ‬Asking about your child’s strengths and weaknesses‭, ‬what the school is doing to support them‭, ‬and how you can continue that at home‭, ‬are all important questions‭.‬

During Parents’‭ ‬Evening

Focus on your child

Parents’‭ ‬Evening is your chance to get a detailed understanding and breakdown of your child’s progress and behaviour in school‭. ‬Parents’‭ ‬Evening shouldn’t be used to discuss school policies‭. ‬If you have any issues or questions regarding the school’s general policies‭, ‬call the school office‭, ‬or talk to the headteacher at a different time‭. ‬Make sure your child‭, ‬rather than the school‭, ‬is the focus of your meeting.

Keep teachers in the loop

As much as the main focus of Parents’‭ ‬Evening is about finding out how your child is doing‭, ‬it is also a two way street‭. ‬Situations such as illness‭, ‬divorce or a new‭ ‬baby may affect your child’s school experience‭, ‬so inform your child’s teacher of such circumstances‭. ‬Teachers prefer to know about problems sooner rather than later‭, ‬so they have a proper understanding of each child’s individual situation‭. ‬

Take notes

Depending on the stage your child is at‭, ‬you could be meeting with several different teachers throughout the course of the evening‭. ‬It is all too easy to forget aspects of conversations‭, ‬and for some of the details to get mixed up or lost‭. ‬Therefore it’s always a good idea to take notes during each meeting so you can review what was covered afterwards‭. ‬

Try to see things from the teacher’s point of view‭ ‬

A one-on-one with your child’s teacher can feel intimidating‭, ‬but a lot of teachers‭, ‬also get nerves before parent-teacher consultations‭. ‬Keep in mind that you and the teacher are a partnership‭; ‬if you can have regular contact with the teacher and keep the same goals in mind‭, ‬then your meeting should strengthen your relationship‮–‬‭ ‬and that can only benefit your child‭.

‬It’s also worth bearing in mind that you may also be informed about areas where your child has room for improvement‭. ‬This may be hard to hear‭, ‬and some parents will have a knee-jerk reaction to become defensive in this situation‭, ‬but try to remember‭, ‬the teacher is not blaming you or your child‭. ‬Parents’‭ ‬Evenings are there give you honest‭, ‬constructive feedback‭. ‬Your child’s teacher is trying to identify ways to help your child get the most from their education‭.

Plan what you will do next

Before you leave each teacher‭, ‬find out how you can follow up on any conversations you’ve had‭. ‬Find out what steps the teacher feels you could make yourself‭, ‬and what you both hope to achieve before your next discussion‭.   ‬

After Parents’‭ ‬Evening‭ ‬‭ ‬

Discuss with your child

It’s important to give your child feedback about how the meetings went‭. ‬Try to make sure that you accentuate the positive aspects and praise that the teachers gave‭. ‬If there were areas for improvement or concern‭, ‬try to frame them in as constructive a way as‭ ‬possible‭. ‬If your child asked you to bring something up‭, ‬make sure to let them know the response‭. ‬This ensures that your child understands that you take their concerns seriously‭. ‬

Stay in touch with the teachers

If you’ve agreed on a course of action with a teacher‭, ‬make sure to get‭ (‬even if it’s brief‭) ‬a follow up chat with them at some point‭. ‬But bear in mind that teachers don’t get a lot of free time‭, ‬it might be best to call the school to arrange a suitable time for a phone call‭.‬

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