You might remember your own parent-teacher conferences very fondly. In those days, teachers never minced their words when they “complained” to your parents about all your behavioural issues. More often than not, you walked away from the sessions knowing what was exactly in store for you when you got home – the cane, and hours of “reflection time” in your room.
These days, parent-teachers conferences are not such terrifying experiences, at least for you anyway, as you now sit in the parent chair. The aims of these sessions are the same – they are great opportunities for you to keep up-to-date with your child’s progress and review their performance in school if you have not been doing so regularly. The difference between parent-teacher meetings then and now is in the demeanour of the teachers, who are (we’d like to believe) kinder and much more inclined to discuss how you can work together for your child’s progress rather than make you feel like your child’s misbehaviours are a reflection of your poor parenting.
To make the most out of your time there, here are some things you might want to ask:
- Has my child been submitting his homework regularly?
You might have checked regularly to ensure that your child has been doing his homework, but the teacher might tell you that his homework are not submitted on time, or that he has been telling the teacher that he has forgotten to do some assignments. This might mean that he is not jotting down his to-do list properly, and has missed out on homework not because he is lazy or wilful, but because he is disorganised.
- How has he been doing in class?
Don’t be surprised to hear that your well-behaved child is noisy and disruptive in class, or vice versa. Children (as do adults), act differently in social situations and the best person to give you feedback on this is the teacher. We have heard of parents who simply refuse to believe that their child misbehaves as he is an absolute angel at home. Being in denial helps no one, least of all your child. Speak to his teacher privately to discuss this further if you have to.
- In your opinion, which subject does he need more help in? How can I help?
You might be very inclined to send your child for tuition classes in every single subject but that is not possible, and can even be unhealthy. Discussing with his teachers on this matter might give you more clarity on which subject to prioritise, and what you can do at home.
- How are his interactions with his peers?
Peer interactions promote skills such as emotional regulation, impulse control, perspective thinking and linguistic development among many other things, and can be predictive of adult behaviour in the future. It is thus important that your child develop pro-social interactions with other peers at an early age, and that negative or alarming behaviour is intervened. If his teacher is telling you that he is frequently taking his classmates’ pencils and not returning them until he is made to do so, then you might want to discuss at length with the teacher about what can be done to rectify this behaviour. What is equally alarming is if your child is said to be withdrawn in class and does not have much interactions with his classmates. His teachers are always on the lookout for bullying behaviour, and worrying behaviour displayed by your child, whether he is playing the role of perpetrator or victim, need to be addressed by you and the school.
- How is his attitude towards teachers and other figures of authority?
You would want to know if he is rebellious against figures of authority as this could mean a host of problems later on in life if he does not learn to respect authority. It is especially important to check especially if he has been defiant and rude at home, and has extended this to other domains in his life.
- What do you think my child’s strengths and weaknesses are?
It might be natural for you to want to dwell on the weaknesses and try to help your child improve on them but it is important to also affirm your child’s strengths. Try different ways to help your child develop his weaknesses and strengths. Weakness in Math does not mean an additional two more hours of Math assessment book practices everyday. See if you can find games or apps that can help your child. Check out what you need to know about the new Math syllabus here.
What are some of your experiences at parent-teacher meetings? Share them with us in the comments below!