How to get the most out of parents’ evenings
Parents' evenings are a fabulous opportunity for you to get more involved in your child's learning and find out how you, as a parent, can really make a difference to their achievement and outcomes at school.
I've been on both sides of the desk at parents' evenings – as a teacher, a student and most recently as a parent. In this podcast episode I'm going to explain how to get the most out of parents' evenings by breaking it down into three sections: before, during and after.
In order to help you get the most out of this process I've created a special sheet for you to download to record the conversations that you have before, during and after parents' evening. To receive your free copy just fill in your name and email below and I'll send it to your inbox.
Before a parents' evening
In order to get the most out of a parents' evening I recommend preparing for it in advance. So, a few days before the parents' evening is due to happen set aside an hour or so to spend with your child to do the following.
1. Look through their work with them
Get your child to show you what work they've been doing in class. This is so that you can familiarise yourself with the subject matter that they've been covering as well as to discuss with your child what's been going well and where they think they need to improve.
One of the most interesting and revealing things you can look at is the comments that your child's teachers are writing on their marked work. See what the teacher is pointing out as being good about your child's work but also see whether they've suggested anything that your child needs to work on or improve, or indeed set specific targets. This will give you a good idea about what will be raised in your meeting with each teacher.
2. Talk to your child
The process of going through your child's work with them will be very informative. However, I think it's also a really good idea to shut the books and look them in the eyes to talk about how they feel they are doing at school. Questions you might want to ask include:
- What do you think you're doing well? Do you think that your teachers will agree with you?
- What do you think you could improve on? Do you think that your teachers will agree with you?
- What can I do to help?
If your child is open and honest in this conversation you hopefully won't get any nasty surprises in the conversations with the teachers.
3. Set goals and targets with your child
In episode 21 of this podcast I interviewed Shola Alabi about how she has used goals to help to improve her children's academic performance as well as other areas of their lives.
As a result of your conversation with your child come up with a list of goals or targets that you can support them with over the coming half-term to help them to get closer to the grades that they'd like to achieve. Write these goals down and take them to the parents' evening to share with your child's teachers to see whether they would agree that these goals will be worthwhile, or whether they'd like to tweak or change them in anyway.
During a parents' evening
In your meeting with each teacher I suggest that you ask:
- What your child is doing particularly well in each subject
- What they specifically need to focus on to improve of the next 6-8 weeks
- Whether the teacher agrees with the goals and targets you and your child have set together for that subject
I have created a special parents' evening sheet for you to download that has a space for your to write down what your child is doing well and what they need to work on for each subject so that you can keep a clear record of the parents' evening to review when you get home.
After a parents' evening
Take the time to talk over the parents' evening with your child. Make sure you praise them for the things that they are doing well, but also discuss how you can support them to improve on the things that will help them to get better at each subject.
Finalise the goals that they are going to work on over the next six to eight weeks and write them down on the goals sheet that I have included with the parents' evening download sheet.
You might also like to look at my two blog posts on habits. One is about mini-habits and how they can help your child to move forwards in their learning. The other is about how to make habits stick. You can also find all this information in chapter 6 of my book, The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take.
What to do if a big problem is identified
Sometimes, very rarely, a big problem will come to light as a result of a parents' evening. It depends very much on what the problem is as to how you should deal with it. However, I think for most things the following steps would be best:
- Talk it over with your child (try not to let the conversation get too heated!).
- Phone or email school to make an appointment to speak to your child's tutor, head of year or head of house.
- Have that meeting and take it from there.
If you've realised that your child actually needs some more detailed support please feel free to check out my work with me page to see how I can help your child with their study skills. You can get my help in these ways:
- Buy a copy of my book to see my complete system for exam success. It covers everything from motivation to mindset and study schedules to revision techniqes. You can buy The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take. on Amazon.
- Sign-up to, or join the waiting list for, my study skills course for parents and students, The Exam Success Formula.
- Investigate my one-to-one coaching packages.
Alternatively, if you think they would benefit from having a subject tutor for one particularly subject listen to my podcast episode, Does your child need a private tutor?
Over to you
Has this blog post helped you to get the most out of a parents' evening? Do you have any further questions? Please put them in the comments below and I'll be sure to get back to you with a helpful reply.
Alternatively, you might like to get in touch with me on social media:
- Facebook group, exclusively for parents: Supportive Parents, Successful Students facebook group
- Lucy on twitter: @LucyCParsons
Or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for listening!
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