As a parent, I get excited about that 15-minute slot allotted to have a one-on-one time with my child’s teacher. I look forward to hearing about my child’s progress and struggles and strengths through more than what I see on my child’s homework worksheets. Sometimes a parent-teacher interview goes great, but sometimes I walk away thinking I just heard a script that is being repeated for every student in my child’s class.
Starting the interview with specific questions gives you the opportunity to focus on what is important regarding your child. Areas of study covered or assessment scores can be done quickly and even in other communications. Addressing the following questions will give both you and the teacher a better understanding of your child throughout the year.
Here are five questions you can ask to help you get the most from those minutes with your child’s teacher:
1. “What do you see as an area of strength for my child?” This question focuses the discussion on your child specifically while still giving the teacher the opportunity to evaluate all subjects. Sometimes parents find this answer surprising as kids can show different abilities in the classroom than at home. Fostering a love of learning can help bring these hidden strengths out in the home as well as at school.
2. “If you could pick one area to focus on improving for my child, what would it be?” Sometimes it is difficult to think about all areas of learning at once. Focusing on one area at a time for improvement helps define the priorities within the classroom. It also gives something concrete to work on with your child at home.
It is great to update this question with the teacher throughout the year. Sending an email or utilizing school communication apps is a great way to check in regarding your child’s progress as well as give the teacher the opportunity to shift the focus to something new as your child improves.
3. “How does my child contribute to the class atmosphere?” This may seem like an unusual question, but it can provide a lot of information. Different personalities shine in different ways independently, but when you blend 20 or more of unique personalities together in a classroom, new things about your child can be revealed.
Asking this question will give you an idea of how much your child may contribute to class discussions or how they may be a great helper for another student. Maybe you’ll discover that your child is great at following directions and modelling good behavior for other students or even that they provide a funny idea to give everyone a laugh.
Asking this question also gives you insight on how your child’s personality comes through in an academic environment. This is especially useful to understand as kids approach junior high and how issues like popularity could impact their learning experience.
4. “Who does my child work well with?” Giving the teacher the opportunity to look at the social element of learning is just as important as the academics. This can be a good barometer of how your child is doing socially as well as give you some insight. Understanding who your child is able to work well with at school compared to the friend that is fun - but may actually be a distraction when it comes to school work - will help everyone create a more successful learning environment for your child.
5. “Do you have any concerns about my child?” This question can never be asked too much. Sometimes we are so busy getting through the list of assessments, reading levels, and academic achievements that we can miss the bigger picture.
Giving teachers and you the time to pause and consider any areas of concern emotionally, socially, or developmentally addresses the whole child in their learning environment.
Rebecca is a former teacher who is passionate about authenticity, faith, and family. She writes regularly at myinkdance.com, has been featured on sites such as The Washington Post and Scary Mommy, and her books are available on Amazon.
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