8 questions you must ask your child's teacher

Teacher working with children
No one understands your child's academic development better than their teacher. Lucy Dimbylow explains how to get the best out of parent-teacher meetings by asking these eight questions.

1. Which activities most engage my child in her learning?

“Parents often say they wish they could be a fly on the wall in class,” says teacher and early years consultant Kay Mathieson. “Asking this question gives a snapshot of what your child looks like when she’s motivated, and what makes her tick.”

2. What approaches have resulted in my child making the most progress?

“This question lets you see how the teacher tailors her methods to your individual child, and also highlights the positives in your child’s learning and development,” explains Kay. “And if a particular approach, such as using the computer, is working well in one area of learning, you can apply it to other areas that your child may find more difficult.”

3. What can we do at home to help?

“You are your child’s first educator, and the things you do at home are vital to support her learning,” says teacher Becky Young. “This might be as simple as reading every night or helping with homework, but your input will build upon what she’s learning at school.”

4. How do you reward my child’s good behaviour?

“Different children need different incentives to perform well, and a good teacher should realise that and adapt her system of rewards to the individual child,” explains Kay. “This is also useful for you as a parent: if a particular reward is working well at school, it could work at home, too.”

5. How easily does my child make and maintain friendships?

“Being happy at school is essential,” says Becky. “If your child has issues with her peers, she won’t take in as much as she should. It’s also important to find out who she plays with, so you can nurture friendships out of school.”

6. What has been my child’s greatest success this term?

“Often, children don’t communicate much about what happens at school,” says Kay, “Asking the teacher about your child’s achievements means you can give her some positive feedback, which will bolster her self-esteem and open the gates of communication.”

7. What’s the biggest challenge coming up for my child?

“Whether it’s SATs, an issue with another pupil, or simply paying more attention in class, asking the teacher what she expects to challenge your child allows you to be prepared if she struggles,” Kay explains. “You can also ask the teacher what you can do to help.”

8. How can we keep in touch about my child’s progress?

“A 10-minute parent-teacher consultation isn’t enough to keep you abreast of what’s happening at school, particularly if there are concerns about your child, so ask the teacher how you can keep each other informed, whether that’s with a weekly chat after school or with email updates,” says Kay. “This fosters a commitment on both sides to helping your child achieve their best.”

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