The beginner's guide to parent-teacher meetings

Parent teacher meeting
There’s a lot you can do to make sure you get the most out of meeting with your child’s teacher. Here’s TheSchoolRun’s guide to handling your first parents’ evening.

Parents' evenings take place so you can find out how your child is doing at school, the teacher can discover more about your child and you can talk about upcoming activities the class will be doing.

 “The first parents’ evening is very helpful for the teacher,” says Janet Tang, a Reception year teacher. “I like to know what the child is like in the morning before coming into school, what they’re like at home and what activities they like to do.” So it’s handy for teachers, as well as parents.

Getting the most from your meeting

Your child’s teacher will be pushed for time. You’ll have around ten minutes, which can pass surprisingly quickly. So it’s a good idea to have some questions prepared beforehand. Write down your questions if you think you might forget them on the evening.
 
Questions to ask at Reception year stage could include how your child interacts with other children and the teacher, how confident they are, what they enjoy doing and what they’re reluctant to do at school.

Viewing your child’s work

Some schools, though not all, will have examples of your child’s work either with them or on display in the classroom. If your child's work is not available for you to look at, make another appointment to pop in and see what they have produced.
 
“I expect to see [my daughter’s] work, get an idea of her personal progress… and hear what she is involved in and how she behaves in class and out,” says TheSchoolRun forum member Pollylolly. “I like the teacher to be honest with me and not beat around the bush. If there is an area of difficulty I cannot help if I don’t know about it.”

More than just academic

Teachers should be able to tell you how your child is progressing, not only in their school work, but also in their relationships with their classmates says TheSchoolRun member, Fredd: “My son is now in year 2. So far parents' evenings have been a chance to look through his books, then the teacher runs through her checklist of what he is supposed to be able to do at that stage and tells me which ones he can do. Then there is chance to discuss any problems in class, how he is dealing with his peers and any areas he is struggling in.”

Not what you expected?

“Some parents come away from parents’ evenings having expected more,” says Janet Tang, “but the first parents’ evening isn’t really about your child’s educational ability. It’s more about how they are socially and what they can do for themselves. Some parents want to hear that their child is a brilliant reader, but that sort of thing is discussed when their child is a bit older.”
 
If you’re disappointed with your meeting at parents’ evening, why not arrange to see your child’s teacher a second time? Similarly, if there’s an important issue you want to address, parents’ evening is probably not the right time to do it. Time restrictions mean that you may not be able to go into the detail you would like. So arrange a separate meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss major concerns. 

Read more advice about parent-teacher meetings, including parents' tips to help you get the most out of your time with the teacher and 8 questions you must ask at parents' evening.