Does the idea of a parent-teacher meeting worry you? It shouldn’t. This handy checklist will help you know exactly what to expect at the next one.You and your child’s school have something in common: You both want your child to learn and do well. What better way to assess that than the periodic parent teacher meeting arranged by the school?
As the Dussera holidays are round the corner, every school will conduct parent teacher meetings (often referred to as the PTM). Being in this field for so many years now, I generally observe parents getting stressed and nervous about the PTM. If the focus remains on what is best for the child, then all should end well. Like all conversations, parent teacher meetings are best when both sides talk and listen. These meetings promote open discussion and keep parents informed of their child’s progress.
As a parent, you’ll likely find out how well your child adapts to social situations, to the class itself and how well he/she completes projects or assignments. Parent-teacher conferences are a valuable assessment tool for parents. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher.
When parents and teachers talk to each other, each person can share important information about your child’s talents and needs. Each person can also learn something new about how to help your child. This tip sheet suggests ways that you can make the most of parent-teacher conferences so that everyone wins, especially your child.
Here are some tips for Parents
1. Know about the PTM & be thereMost schools in India have their 1st term parent teacher meetings in the month of October or November. These dates are announced either at the beginning of the year or at least one month ahead. We know parents are busy, but it is important to carve out time to invest in your child’s education and ensure success at school. Please mark your calendar and be there for the PTM. Make sure both the parents attend the PTM.
2. Talk with your childAsk your child what his/her strongest and weakest subjects are, and which subjects he/she likes most and least. Ask your child if he/she would like you to speak about anything in particular with the teacher. Make sure that your child understands that you and the teacher are meeting to help him, so that he doesn’t worry about the conference.
3. Prepare a list of notesMake a list of topics that you want to discuss with the teacher and that you think the teacher should know, such as your concerns about the school, the child’s home life, any major changes in your family, habits, hobbies, part-time jobs, religious holidays, or anything that is worrying your child. Be sure to ask for input from your spouse or other adults that are caring for your child as well.
4. Prepare a list of questions like belowHow is my child doing socially? Do not stick just to academics. This one question actually asks a lot of questions. By asking the teacher this you can find out a lot of things. Knowing if your child is doing okay socially is so important. Social development helps form who we become and you want to make sure your child develops proper social behaviour.
5. What do you feel are my child’s strengths and weaknesses?This is another important question that asks more than one. You will find out where your child’s strengths are academically and what they enjoy to do. These are two very different things. The teacher may say your child excels in science and loves reading and art. This can help you encourage your child both academically and in creativity. By knowing what your child’s weaknesses are you can help at home to strengthen their abilities in that subject.
6. How is My Child Doing Emotionally?It’s also important to ask about your child’s emotional health at school. For example, is your child generally happy?
7. In what Areas Does My Child Need Improvement?Your child’s teacher sees him from a different perspective than you do. Ask the teacher what personal weaknesses your child needs to work on, and listen to the response with an open mind.
8. Is My Child Doing His /Her Best?No matter where your child ranks in relation to grade-level, one important analysis of his performance is whether he’s putting forth his best effort. Does the teacher get the sense that your child is slacking off or not focusing?
9. Is my child participating in class discussions and activities?This question will answer many questions about the child’s confidence, presence of mind and self esteem.
10. Does My Child Need Extra Help in Any Areas?Your child’s teacher can tell you if your child is falling behind in a skill or a subject. Armed with that information, you can create a plan with your child to work harder in that area, before it gets too late.
11. What Can We Do to Provide That Extra Help?Work with your child’s teacher to create a plan to help your child progress well in school. There may be specific things that you can do at home to help; the teacher might give you some ideas.
Stay calm during the conference. Respectful communication will be the most effective way to work together with your child’s teacher. Getting angry or upset during the conference will make it very difficult to have a positive conversation.
Ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand . Listen carefully to what the teacher says. If you don’t understand something that the teacher talks about (such as an educational term or an explanation of a school policy), don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is important for you to understand what your child’s teacher is telling you.
Ask the most important questions early in the conference ,as you may run out of time, especially if other parents are waiting to have their conference after yours. You can always schedule another meeting with the teacher to cover any points you didn’t cover.
Respectfully discuss differences of opinion . If you disagree with the teacher, respectfully explain why you disagree. If you don’t let the teacher know about your differences of opinion, the teacher may think that you agree and will move on to the next topic. Discussing your differences with the teacher may help both of you find a more effective way to help your child.
Create an action plan . Ask your child’s teacher for specific suggestions of ways that you can help your child at home with homework, reading, organization, routines, behavioral issues, etc. Make sure you understand the teacher’s suggestions, and ask for clarification if you don’t.
This list of suggestions will become the action plan. Establish a way to keep track of the child’s progress, as well as the best way to stay in touch with your child’s teacher — through phone calls, emails, notes, or meetings. Review the action plan with the teacher as you end the conference to make sure that you both have the same expectations.
Stay in touch with the teacher.
I am also providing here a checklist that you can carry for the PTM based on the questions and tips mentioned here. Download PTM Checklist