Usually a couple of times a year you (and often your child as well) will have the opportunity to meet with your child's teacher and talk about the progress your child is making. Here's what to expect from these meetings and some tips to get the most out of them.
- What is a parent-teacher meeting?
- Do I need to do anything before the meeting?
- What sort of questions might I ask?
- Should I talk to my child about what the teacher said?
- Can I talk to the teacher outside of a parent-teacher meeting?
This is a meeting between you and the teacher to talk about your child’s learning and progress. They might be called parent-teacher interviews, parent-teacher conferences or even learning conferences.
Many schools and kura organise them for early in the year and then after a mid-year school report has been sent home.
They might offer you a set time, invite you to contact them to arrange a time, or more and more schools are asking parents to book a time that suits online using a parent-teacher interview website. Some schools hold meetings before or after school, others run them in the evening.
More than one person can go to the meeting - you are welcome to take other members of your family or whānau. They are useful, positive meetings where as well as hearing from your child's teacher, you can ask questions and share your thoughts so that you and your teachers can become partners in your child's education.
In more and more schools, students attend the meetings as well. These meetings are often called three-way conferences. If you school doesn't do this, and you want your child to be at the meeting with you, check that it’s okay with the teacher.
Meetings are usually short, so it's worthwhile for you and your child to do some preparation and make some notes to make the most of the time:
- think about what you have noticed about your child's work - parents often notice things when they are helping their child with homework
- talk to your child about how they feel about school and anything that they are really enjoying, finding too easy or too difficult
- ask them if there's anything they want you to talk about with the teacher. If it's a three-way conference they can ask these questions
- read any recent school reports and write down any questions you have about them.
- Does my child participate (take part) well in class?
- Is my child progressing as expected?
- What do they do well?
- What do they need help with?
- What can I do to help?
- Does my child seem settled at school? How do they get along with others?
- Are there any areas for concern?
- What's the best way to contact you if I want to follow up on anything we've talked about?
Even if your child doesn't ask, they'll probably be keen to hear what you talked to the teacher about. Share the positive things that the teacher said and give them plenty of praise. Then talk about anything the teacher suggested you could do at home to help them.
If you didn't agree with something that the teacher said, it's better to stay positive about the teacher or the school in front of your child. If you have concerns about anything that was discussed, you should arrange a separate appointment with the school to talk about this further.
Can I talk to the teacher outside of a parent-teacher meeting?
Yes you can talk to the teacher anytime. In fact, you are in a partnership, and both want your child to do well, so you are encouraged to talk regularly with the school. Ask the teacher what the best way to contact them is.
You can follow up on things that were talked about at the parent-teacher meeting, or discuss an issue or topic in more depth.
You can often talk to the teacher in person for brief discussions without needing to make an appointment - just make sure you approach the teacher well outside of class times.
If you want to have more time for a longer conversation it's best to make an appointment so that you all have plenty of time to talk.
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